Local Commentary

Editorial: Time for F.C. to Get Spruced Up

Anyone who had friends or relatives over to their home for the holidays knows what this is all about. Making ready means getting to work cleaning and polishing up the digs in ways often ignored most of the rest of the time. Whether or not your party was a success or your guests were sufficiently grateful, you could say that it was worth all the trouble if for no other reason than you got your place cleaned up.

Well, in the immediate coming years, the City of Falls Church is going to be playing host to some important new guests. The City is on the verge of hitting the proverbial “tipping point,” or “critical mass,” that will make every square foot of developable land in its commercial corridors attractive, at least theoretically, to all kinds of fresh new large-scale projects, the kind that City residents will find appealing and the right kind of fit for the unique character of the City.

However, if this is going to happen in the wake of the new Rushmark (Harris-Teeter) and Reserve at Tinner Hill mixed-use projects, for example, the City is going to have to do its part to foof up some of its unsightly streets and sidewalks.

Frankly, the area between the two big projects that will begin construction this year is a mess. Walking the area between the two is dangerous because the sidewalks are so uneven and broken up, and the area is a magnet to litter than general shabbiness.

Now, it is precisely that area which is most likely to attract new projects, but if that will happen, the City has to get busy right away doing a cost-effective basic clean up and landscaping effort, putting in some new sidewalks, benches, greenery and other amenities that can make it look like a million bucks for very little.

Some are talking of setting up a “business improvement district” (BID) to raise money from businesses in the area to pay for improvements in their own neighborhood. However, this is not something that the private sector should have to foot the bill for. It is the City, overall, which will stand to benefit from the tax revenues that new businesses will bring to any of its areas, so it is the City that should pay for it.

It is hard to imagine that the particular array of small businesses in the area between the two new large-scale projects, for example, have the resources to do any significant cleanup there.

Another area where the City should not wait to make cosmetic but meaningful sidewalk and landscape improvements is the half-block between the State Theatre on N. Washington St., and the intersection of Broad and Washington.

We’ve been sawing this fiddle so often over the years we’re weary of it. But it involves expending the least for gaining the most to spread the audiences at the State to restaurants and retailers a half-block away.