A standing room only crowd of concerned Falls Church citizens jammed a meeting room at the F.C. Community Center Thursday night to hear a briefing from the developers on the proposed “Mason Row” project at the intersection of W. Broad and N. West Streets that, if approved and built, would bring by far the highest net revenue yield to the City of any single project of its type. While the crowd was restless as the meeting got underway, and citizens spoke out of turn to both ask questions and to levy criticisms of the massive project, about midway through, when one citizens who identified himself as living only a few doors from where the project would go exclaimed that he “loved the idea,” and a barely-restrained applause from more than a few other people shifted the mood in the room perceptibly. Those who’d been most critical to that point suddenly realized that not all the room was “with them,” and others were then emboldened to speak up in favor of the project, as well.
The initial endorsement came from a citizen who said he’s not exactly a “millennial,” but not that far removed. Indeed, the project has been developed by the Spectrum Group to maximize its appeal to a younger demographic, known as the millennial generation, with smaller apartments and an appeal to the proximity of the site to the W&OD Bike Trail. Suddenly in the room Thursday, the younger citizens, including those with younger children, began piping up for the project, which in addition to an extended stay hotel may draw a multi-screen movie theater operation, even though it was clear that the majority of the room was more in the demographic of older baby boomers.
Among those present were Mayor David Tarter, City Manager Wyatt Shields and City Council members Phil Duncan, Karen Oliver, Marybeth Connelly and Dan Sze.