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Mason Row Developers to Introduce Revisions in Broad & West Plan

FALLS CHURCH City Manager Wyatt Shields (second from right) laid out the latest proposal from the Spectrum Group to a meeting of the EconoDevelopment Committee of the F.C.City Council Monday Night. (Photo: News Press)
FALLS CHURCH City Manager Wyatt Shields (second from right) laid out the latest proposal from the Spectrum Group to a meeting of the Economic Development Committee of the F.C.City Council Monday Night. (Photo: News Press)

The ambitious plans for the development of Falls Church land at the intersection of W. Broad and N. West Streets have undergone another major revision, F.C. City Manager Wyatt Shields told the City Council’s Economic Development Committee Monday night. The new plans are a combination of ongoing efforts to address concerns of citizens in the area and, in this latest development, of the acquisition of yet another parcel of land to add to the mix.

The new addition is the red brick building on W. Broad just west of the St. James School. It means that the development project now covers the entire area west of St. James to the Broad/West intersection. The terms of the latest deal is that at least two of the tenants of the old brick building be relocated in the new project, and that has led its developers to plan an office building right at the corner of Broad and West to accommodate the businesses and to also increase the ratio of commercial to residential in the site overall.

The new plan will be formally submitted to the City in early December, and the developers, the Spectrum Group, is slating a town hall meeting on Dec. 15 to lay out all its new elements to the public.

The new projects retains most of the elements of the old, including a 140-unit hotel, a movie theatre component, and 320 residential apartments. There are no condos in this plan, but a four-story parking garage is included allowing for 989 parking spaces overall. There will be 35,000 square feet of office space and 58,900 square feet of retail.

The four-floor parking garage would be located where the earlier version added condos, but while it will face onto Park Avenue, there will be not access to it from Park.

This latest plan would come back to the City Council for consideration of a final approval in early January.

Other new features of the latest plan include limiting the height to 85 feet, within the height allowed by current zoning, a market square area that is slightly larger than before and a swimming pool for apartment residents on top of the parking garage.

The apartments will on balance be smaller than before, meaning that some of the two-bedroom units will be cut out leaving a higher component of one-bedroom units.

Under this plan, the theatre component, considered an important draw for the retail elements of the project, will require some financial aid from the City, such as a “tax increment financing” deal that might involve a surcharge on tickets of 10 percent that gets exchanged for the tax benefit.

However, it was discussed Monday that there may be way to craft that element to remove the City’s role as a financial go-between.

No representative of the Spectrum Group was present at Monday’s committee meeting, as the report came from City Manager Shields with some contributions from Rick Goff of the City’s Economic Development Office.

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