Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

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By unanimous votes, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted wide-ranging amendments to the county’s Comprehensive Plan for both Bailey’s Crossroads and downtown Annandale last week. Both areas are designated revitalization districts in the county, and both share common characteristics of vibrant and diverse commercial and retail businesses along major roadways, surrounded by residential developments of single family detached homes, townhouses, and multi-family units.

The Bailey’s Crossroads Comprehensive Plan Amendment should stimulate revitalization in the Central Business Center, located east of the Route 7/Columbia Pike interchange. The Plan Amendment also takes advantage of the proposed Pike Transit streetcar route between Skyline and Pentagon City. More mixed use development, easier pedestrian, bicycle, and transit-rider access, and increased open space, including a possible arts center, are among the features of the new plan. To be compatible with existing stable neighborhoods, the densest development will be focused in the area near the future streetcar stop along South Jefferson Street on the north side of Leesburg Pike. This urban-style downtown will incorporate mixed-use buildings with ground-floor retail, a tree-lined grid of streets, and a greenway that will connect the north and south sides of Leesburg Pike.

In downtown Annandale, the plan moves away from traditional planning techniques in favor of a form-based approach that emphasizes the form and function of future development, while providing flexibility with respect to specific land uses and intensities. Arlington County already uses form-based approaches in redeveloping older areas nearby, with recognized success. The Annandale plan maintains the overall 7.11 million square foot development potential under the existing Comprehensive Plan language. Little River Turnpike would become a boulevard, utilizing the current service drive rights-of-way to provide for transportation improvements and amenities. A tree-lined boulevard would continue to carry vehicular traffic, while providing safe passage for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Both plans were under discussion in the community for some time. The Bailey’s Crossroads proposal is an outgrowth of an Urban Land Institute (ULI) study done late in 2006; the Annandale Plan began in similar fashion. Multiple meetings with citizen advisory groups, revitalization committees, and well-attended public open houses that led to the final language were conducted during a two-year period. The development horizon for both areas runs to future decades. Many current business leases still have several years to run, allowing property owners plenty of time to prepare for redevelopment opportunities, and how to finance them.

Mason District Park’s free summer concert series, Spotlight by Starlight, welcomes the talented local group, Mariachi Los Amigos, tomorrow night. Sunday night’s show will feature the wildly popular satirical political revue, The Capitol Steps. Both shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Come early and bring a picnic to enjoy along with the show.

 


Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at [email protected]