Behold, in the final analysis late Tuesday night, a narrow four-vote majority on the Falls Church City Council voted Falls Church a heart right in the middle of its downtown. The Kensington of Falls Church by Nova-Habitat project for a five-story, 83 unit assisted living facility with retail on the ground floor and classy architectural design was approved, if barely, by a 4-3 vote of the Council.
It seemed ironic that some on the Council thought the idea of an assisted living project right downtown, where the drive-through Burger King now sits, was a good idea, just in the wrong location. People have been saying that about senior housing projects proposed for downtown Falls Church for over a decade, and in every prior case pushed by the City’s Housing Corporation, Councils for just that reason have killed plan after plan to give seniors respectable homes for their later years in the center of vibrancy and community.
Behind the dauntless efforts of Housing Corporation director Carol Jackson, plans for a senior housing facility were dashed after being drawn up, and more than once. A plan for use City-owned land next to the State Theatre, another to use a portion of the West End Park, and, finally, in what caused Jackson and the corporation to throw in the towel, for another unsuccessful major push for a site on S. Washington St.
It was the sentiment that older people should be stuck in attics, away from where anything important or vital is going on; that was at least in part the unspoken prejudice governing the earlier decisions.
Tuesday night, however, Kensington developer Ed Novak took that sentiment head on, arguing that senior citizens have a right to an opportunity to enjoy the vibrancy of a community they helped to build, and that being able to walk to restaurants and parks nearby is a priceless benefit for them that can’t be calculated in dollars.
Yes, Virginia, with sentiments like that being associated with such a project, we can begin to see that what the Council bought with its approval of the Kensington Tuesday night was a heart.
The richness and wisdom that older citizens can bring to a community can often outweigh the mindless spending and partying of a millennial demographic gripped by materialism and the demand for instant gratification. So what if Falls Church is an “aging community,” it is smarter and better for it, and believe me, as the millennials tack on a few years, if they have any brains at all, they will prefer a community where they can access the experience and insights that come with age to help them in their life journeys, the raising of their children, and so forth.
This newspaper could not be prouder to be serving a community that values heart so much that it is not afraid to put a senior assisted living project right downtown. It speaks volumes to the values of this Little City that make it a special place, indeed.