Revitalization is a term heard often in public community discussions, but sometimes not easily understood. Revitalization often is gradual, as the improvements to economic vitality, appearance, and function evolve and mature over time. Community support and the ability to finance projects are two important aspects of successful revitalization.
Mason District is home to two of the seven designated revitalization areas in Fairfax County – Annandale and Bailey’s Crossroads/Seven Corners. The latter includes many Falls Church postal addresses and is the focus of this discussion. While some interest in revitalization was stimulated with the construction of the cloverleaf interchange that grade-separated Leesburg Pike and Columbia Pike, the controversial Crossroads Center development in the early 1990s brought greater attention to the county’s programs to encourage revitalization. Since then, there have been many new and exciting revitalization projects, from Skyline to Seven Corners. Major investments and developments since 1996 include Seven Skyline Place, a $100 million mid-rise Class A office building; Baileys Crossing, a 400 unit market rate apartment complex; and a multi-million, multi-story tower at Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads, which doubled the number of units available for senior citizens. I was able to secure the demolition of the old Alward Garage in my first year in office, got the property rezoned, and new retail businesses installed. Babies R Us replaced a long-vacant lot at the crossroads, and new restaurants moved nearby. The Nassif Building was stripped to its studs and completely rebuilt to security standards for Department of Defense contractors; Bailey’s Crossroads Shopping Center (Trader Joe’s/Panera Bread/Pier I/ BestBuy) was renovated and expanded; and Radley Acura elected to remain in Bailey’s Crossroads, obtaining and renovating several blighted properties to accommodate more dealership services. The Arlington County Federal Credit Union, unable to find suitable space to build in Arlington, constructed its new headquarters in Bailey’s!
Moving west along Route 7, the Bailey’s Crossroads Post Office in the Culmore Shopping Center was expanded and renovated, another long-term investment for the community. The former Caldor Discount Store at Seven Corners was replaced by Sears Roebuck; Home Depot and Shoppers Food Warehouse chose Seven Corners Shopping Center for their new stores – new building and new investment in the past decade or so. Chipotle and Red Robin restaurants are recent additions, complementing the Dogfish Ale House as choices to dine. A transit hub is under construction at Seven Corners, and connects to the pedestrian bridge built in 2009 across Route 50. Through changes to the County’s Comprehensive Plan, blighted properties – the Hillwood Motel, Seven Corners Auto Body, and an abandoned auto dealership – were removed and replaced with a modern bank and Public Storage that resembles an office building. A small medical office complex is currently under construction nearby. At Willston, a new TD Bank, a new Safeway, and a Target store that replaced the old Montgomery Ward round out the list of major investments.
These projects represent more than simply new or updated structures. They are major investments in the community, reviving economic opportunity inside the Beltway, and providing jobs, jobs, jobs! Our community, working together with business interests, developers, and Fairfax County requirements, has much to celebrate in revitalization – and we are doing much more!
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at [email protected]