Bob Young is the man behind many recent changes to the City of Falls Church landscape. As principal of the Young Group for real estate development, management and consulting, the former McLean resident has seen several commercial and residential projects come to fruition in The Little City.
The building at 800 W. Broad St., whose Art Nouveau-styled floral exterior has earned it the name The Flower Building? That’s his. Washington Commons on the 300 block of S. Washington Street, whose column-like tulips seem to echo that distinct Flower Building facade? That’s his, too. The office building on the 100 block of N. Virginia Avenue, The Read Building on the 400 block of W. Broad Street, and the Washington Market on the 400 block of S. Washington Street? His, his, and his.
But his latest project in the City is on a much smaller scale, and more personal. Young is building a home in The Little City.
Young decided about three years ago that he would make the move to Falls Church. His decision was twofold: he likes the City and its people, and he has a lot invested in the City. It has taken him some time to prepare his home in McLean for sale and to find a lot on which to build. Buying an existing home, he found, wouldn’t be a viable option.
“Most of the houses of the quality I’d be looking for would be way too big,” Young said.
He found a lot in the Poplar Heights area of the City, where he is building a 3,000-square foot home that he describes as a one-bedroom rambler with a second floor to provide two bedrooms and two bathrooms for guests. Its exterior will be in a traditional Arts and Crafts style, built of wood and stone – and with a red door, he adds. The interior, though, will be a combination of two ornate early 20th-century styles: Art Deco and, in the same vein as his Flower Building, Art Nouveau.
“I’m personally pretty sensitive to how the building environment gets formed, and I don’t think an Art Nouveau house would fit into the building environment very well,” Young said. “But Arts and Crafts will.”
In addition to his experience as a real estate developer, Young is a licensed general contractor and he built about 100 homes earlier in his career. This combined knowledge has impacted his homebuilding experience. He said his know-how has helped him to discover what he wants and needs from a home but most importantly taught him the value of picking a good contractor. Young selected local contractor Eric Williams for the project.
For the most part, Young has found the City to be helpful in his homebuilding process.
“The City staff does a very good job of being responsive and reviewing plans in a very timely manner,” Young said, but he makes an exception to his statement with regard to stormwater management.
Limits are set on the amount of impervious surfaces a building project can have – structures like the home itself, garages, and driveways that cover the ground and prevent it from absorbing rainfall.
Such measures are put in place because covering water-absorbing land could result in a greater water quantity on the ground, and thus flooding, and poorer water quality. Young’s current site plan falls below the 35 percent impermeable coverage limit that the City adheres to, but he’d like to make changes to the plan (like increasing the size of his swimming pool) that would increase the land coverage on his property considering that he also includes in his plans measures to mitigate the impact of rainfall.
Rainfall mitigating measures could include the use of cisterns or rain gardens to hold and absorb rainwater. Young says such mitigating factors, which he uses in his other properties, are weighed more heavily in commercial building than in residential building.
“The City encourages all of those things, but gives absolutely no credit,” Young said. “The only way you’re going to get people to do those things in any serious way is to give them credit for it.”
While plans for the site may change depending on the outcome of hearings on the stormwater management issue, the early stages of construction have commenced. Plans to start framing the home on Monday were delayed due to the snow storm that hit the area, but Young says that the home should be completed by mid to late summer if all goes according to plan.
Young is looking forward to moving into his Falls Church home. He’ll not only be close to his office in The Flower Building and his investment properties, but also mere blocks from his son’s family – including his two grandchildren. He also plans to enjoy the City’s grocery store and restaurant offerings, and those that are soon to come.
“I’m looking forward to being a full, 100 percent citizen of the City of Falls Church,” Young said.