News

Demolition to Begin Early March To Make Way for Harris Teeter

It’s only one month away now, the day every structure will be demolished at the site of the upcoming “flagship” Harris Teeter grocery and 285 rental apartments on six levels above it. That means the old post office, that means the old Anthony’s Restaurant.

Rushmark Properties Developer Patrick Kearney told the monthly luncheon of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce Tuesday that Monday, March 3 is the target date for the wrecking ball. Many Falls Church residents, recalling their many happy years of patronizing the old Anthony’s, will undoubtedly be present to pay respects, even as a new Anthony’s begins to rise a mile away at Rt. 50 at Annandale Road.

The demolition date is contingent on getting the building permits that have been filed for at City Hall, but according to Kearney, there’s no reason to think there will be any delays with them.

All the news was good coming from Kearney and his colleague Stefan Gassner, including the fact that VDOT OK’d their request for a left-turn option into the project for travelers going west on W. Broad St.

Happier than demolition day will be the groundbreaking ceremony tentatively set for the end of March. That’s when City Council members, Planning Commissioners and many other dignitaries will don the old hard hats and pick up a shovel to ceremonially toss a wad of dirt and some kind of a ribbon gets cut.

The information everyone wanted to know Tuesday centered on when they could first walk with a shopping cart into a completed Harris Teeter to shop. That date, said Kearney, will be the spring of 2016, or two years off.

As for the apartments above the store, renters will begin to move into them in the Fall of 2015, in a year and a half. There will be a mix of apartment types among the 285 total units. Eleven percent will be studio apartments (580 square feet on average), 56 percent will be one bedroom units (750 square feet) and 33 percent will be two bedroom units (1,170 square feet). The price range is estimated to be between $1,800 a month for a two-bedroom and $1,500 for a studio.

Kearney acknowledged that the appearance of one-room studio apartments is new for Falls Church, even as the Spectrum project being proposed for W. Broad at N. West will also have the studio apartment option. There will be 18 formally-designated “affordable dwelling units” (ADUs) that will be proportional in type to the project overall.

“Our units will attract people from all over Northern Virginia, and also from City residents looking to downsize as their children leave home,” Kearney said.

Kearney, himself, is very familiar with the area, having grown up in Arlington and going to church at Falls Church’s St. James Catholic Church. Rushmark’s offices are in the Fairview Park area of greater Falls Church.

Considering the residential unit mix to appeal to a younger demographic, he noted there will be bike parking and electric car plug-in stations on the site and, oh yes, a dog wash station, as well.

Dog wash station? Does that mean pets will be allowed in the units?

Yes, indeed, they’re encouraged, Kearney said, and the reason is that research shows people with pets are less likely to move, and more likely to make a long-term commitment to their dwellings. Pet lovers know how traumatic it is for pets when they have to move.

As a “flagship” store, the Harris Teeter is slated to be about 15 percent larger than the one currently on Harrison Street in Arlington. Owned by the parent company Kroger, one of the three largest grocery chains in the U.S., the Harris Teeter in Falls Church is slated at this point to be open “24/7.”

One surprise the developers want to unveil at the groundbreaking in late March will be the unveiling of a name for the project. Kearney said that, already, consultants have been retained to explore options.

At Tuesday’s lunch, he was advised to watch out for choosing the name of an historic figure from Falls Church to make sure that person wasn’t a slave holder.