Rumors and online noise and excitement was generated last week when an asphalt paving company was observed working on the parking lot of the busy 7-Eleven store by the intersection of W. Broad and N. West Streets.
As the location is one of those that is slated to be vacated to make way for the 4.3-acre Mason Row project, the paving effort caused some buzz in town speculating about whether or not the parent company of 7-Eleven, the Seven and I Holdings Company of Irving, Texas, would fight to hold onto its current site, sending the Mason Row plans into disarray.
Unconfirmed reports are that the company has an option to extend its lease on the location, owned by John Shreve, another five years, with an option to stay another five years after that.
But officials at City Hall told the News-Press Tuesday that the paving effort was simply part of the negotiating process, and that Mill Creek Residential, which is handling the negotiations for the control of the property, is “on top of it.”
Wednesday, Amirali Nasserian of Mill Creek told the News-Press in an exclusive interview that “if we had any doubts about moving ahead with this project, I would not be driving to Falls Church tonight.” The Mason Row team is scheduled to appear before the Falls Church Architectural Advisory Board with its site plan.
He suggested the paving of the 7-Eleven lot was simply required as a condition of the existing lease with Shreve.
Indeed, according to News-Press reports, a condition of the extension of the lease was the maintenance of the property, and the lot, which also serves Mike’s Deli at Lazy Sundae next door, was clearly in significant disrepair. Shaping up the lot to qualify for the option to extend the lease may have been required simply to prevent an immediate void of the lease.
The paving effort, which made for quite a scene at the location last week, underscored the many moving parts there have been, and will continue to be, in the effort to press ahead with the large-scale Mason Row project that promises a hotel, a multiplex movie theater, residential rental units, an open town plaza and substantial retail, including at least two restaurants.
So far, none of the small businesses that are on the land that is being assembled for the project have been forced to close, and their relocation efforts have been impressive, with Bikenetic, Mike’s Deli and most recently, the Panjshir restaurant are in the process of all landing on their feet in other nearby locations in Falls Church.
What’s not clear is what the 7-Eleven at that location will do, however. Unconfirmed reports are that its parent company has been in talks with the owners of the vacated custom cabinetry store diagonally across the Broad and West intersection from its current location.
With over 53,000 locations worldwide already, and plans to add at least another 1,000 in the U.S. in the next year, according to its website, the U.S. 7-Eleven’s parent company, which grew out of the bankruptcy of the Southland Corporation in the early 1990s, may or may not be seeking anything more than the holding onto its current location for as long as it can before making way for Mason Row.
The 7-Eleven location in question is one of three in the 2.2 square miles of the City of Falls Church, the other two being on S. Washington St. (Route 29). All three have been in operation as “24/7” businesses for over 30 years at their current locations here.
According to sources at City Hall, the Mason Row developers have been pursuing this project since 2011 and have moved forward, winning unanimous approval from the City Council for its special exceptions a year ago and subsequent expenditures of very substantial sums for the submission of its site plan, which happened in November, with confidence that all the elements required for it have or are about to be secured. That includes options for the movie theater company and the hotelier.
That suggests that the paving was simply to avert an immediate termination of the existing lease. But whatever the case may be, patrons are now finding it a lot smoother to drive up to the 7-Eleven and Mike’s Deli.