Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

prenny-fcnpBailey’s Crossroads has experienced many positive changes during the past quarter century, and continues to serve a diverse and dynamic population. The old Alward’s garage, perhaps the closest thing to a Superfund cleanup site, was removed and redeveloped in 1997, followed closely by the removal of the Alward’s garbage site on Seminary Road. The Arlington County Federal Credit Union built its headquarters in Bailey’s; the Bailey’s Crossroads Shopping Center was renovated with Trader Joe’s, Best Buy, Panera, and Pier One as new tenants; a Target store replaced the out-of-date Skyline Mall; and at least two new townhouse communities were built. The result is multi-millions of dollars in new investment and improved property values.

An article in The Washington Post last month focused, negatively I thought, on challenges for redevelopment and revitalization of the Bailey’s Crossroads area. Truly balanced reporting also should reference the positives for which there are several examples that have the potential to kick start further redevelopment. While the loss of the proposed streetcar line was a setback, investors continue to work on redevelopment plans.

Earlier this spring, the Weissberg Corporation submitted revised plans to rezone more than seven acres for a project that will include 355 units of market rate housing, and later could include a new office building. The project would be the start of a Bailey’s Crossroads Town Center, including a new street connection from Columbia Pike to Seminary Road, possibly obviating the need for the current peculiar approach from the cloverleaf.

An “e-loft” plan already approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors would transform a long-vacant office building into 157 “live-work” units. Similar concepts have been successful in other jurisdictions, but this is the first one in Fairfax County, and repurposes an existing building (that already has a parking deck) into an environmentally friendly facility that has the potential to attract new residents – and new energy and ideas – to the area.

The Post article said that the demise of the streetcar “derailed” revival of the Skyline office complex, but the new ownership of the eight-building complex is in a position to take advantage of its proximity to the Pentagon (10 minutes) and Washington, D.C. Skyline was built to Metro densities in the early 1970s, before a proposed Metro line was removed from the regional map. Location mattered then, and location matters now. That advantage, along with the ongoing work of the community and Fairfax County staff, will help revitalize and redevelop Bailey’s Crossroads as a thriving, vibrant, and urbanizing place to be!

Memorial Day will be observed this Monday, May 29. Originally called Decoration Day, to honor Union soldiers who died in the Civil War, Memorial Day now honors all who served in the United States armed forces. Midst the picnics and pool parties that celebrate the beginning of summer, we all should take a moment to reflect on the freedoms for which so many soldiers died, so that we could continue to enjoy our traditional American pursuits, no matter creed, color, or national origin.


 Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov.