F.C. Set to Settle With Atlantic Realty, Sale Opens New Downtown Hopes

Council Votes Monday On Comprehensive Deal to Move Ahead

Since 2008, when the economy dipped into the Great Recession, great plans by Atlantic Realty and the City of Falls Church to develop an ambitious $315 million City Center project in the City’s downtown fell into a dead standstill.

Mired in the recession, Atlantic Realty had acquired the George Mason Square property that houses, among other things, the Ireland’s Four Provinces restaurant and the deal that had won approval of the Falls Church City Council at the time included moving the Bowl America, building a hotel, a public parking garage, ample residential and Harris Teeter grocery as its anchor.

So it was of no mean importance that this Monday, that era of freeze officially ended. The Council indicated in a public setting for the first time that it has reached a deal with Atlantic Realty on how to move forward with Atlantic Realty’s new vision, slightly downsized, for an all-commercial development in the 100 block of W. Broad that could bring over half a million in net new revenues to the City’s coffers.

The deal, which will be officially voted on by the Council Monday, was hammered out behind closed doors with a number of closed session Council meetings over the last year.

It involves a resolution of all existing real and potential litigation actions between the City and Atlantic Realty — being the final step to free the Rushmark Property plan to build a mixed use project in the 300 block of W. Broad to include a Harris Teeter – and the City’s willingness to sell to Atlantic Realty the 5,000-square feet property it purchased when the City Center plan was still on at 201 W. Broad (now a tailor shop).

That narrowly below-market acquisition by Atlantic Realty will prime its pump to acquire other properties in that block to come up with an impressive all-commercial plan, it was noted at Monday night’s Falls Church City Council work session.

So, with two birds killed by one stone, so to speak, it is “game on” for the Route 7 and 29 “crossroads” in downtown Falls Church once again. Moreover, this news comes only days after the Spectrum Group unveiled its ambitious development plans nine blocks away for the northeastern corner of the intersection of W. Broad and N. West St.

Other aspects of the deal with Atlantic Realty (A-R) and the City that the City Council mulled Monday night include A-R’s sale of a small triangle of land across S. Maple, next to the Burke and Herbert Bank, to the City; A-R’s willingness, immediately, to permit 30 public parking spaces on evenings and weekends on the ground floor of its Ireland’s Four Provinces property; and more permanent public parking if the A-R’s new development plans pan out.

The deal to sell 201 W. Broad for $300,000 to A-R is predicated on A-R’s fulfilling its development promise for at least 80,000 square feet of all commercial (with ground floor retail) in the 100 block of W. Broad within seven years. If that promise is not met, the price of 201 W. Broad will rise an additional $235,000.

The Council will formally vote on all of these components of the comprehensive settlement with Atlantic Realty this coming Monday. With A-R in its own negotiations for the acquisition of the bank property sandwiched between the 201 W. Broad parcel and the George Mason Square, the successful culmination of that should result in A-R emerging soon with some more specifics about what its new project will involve.