4th Version Lowers, Recedes Broad-Washington Proposal

A BIRD’S-EYE VIEW of the scope of the proposed Washington and Broad project, reaching from N. Washington along E. Broad to Lawton St. (Photo: Broad & Washington Site Plan)

There is not a Whole Foods Market in this plan, but there are a lot of amenities to make it pedestrian- and arts-friendly for downtown Falls Church.

On Monday night, the Falls Church-based Insight Property Group presented its latest plan to the Falls Church City Council for their proposed massive, 2.68 acre redevelopment of the property encompassing the Robertson Building and Applebee’s at the northeast corner of N. Washington and E. Broad.

The new plan, which requires Council approval for two special exceptions for height and residential in a commercially zoned parcel, has been repositioned away from Lawton Street to its rear and will include a $3.5 million contribution for the establishment of a permanent home for the regionally acclaimed Creative Cauldron arts and education non-profit.

The plan would also proposed to provide Falls Church with its first significant Class A office building complex (Class A referring to the newest and highest quality buildings in the market) opened up internally to be more linked to surrounding businesses, including one that helps the block earn the title of “a performing arts section” of the Little City anchored by the State Theatre.

“The fact that this will be in downtown Falls Church will be our anchor,” Rick Hauser of Insight told the Council Monday. “We will do all we can to animate and make powerful” this iconic intersection, he said. “We will put feet on the ground with public gathering places, generating a force of energy, activity and animation” around that corner, he said.

A statement in the developer’s formal submission said the goal of the plan is to “develop an enduring building that celebrates, showcases and supports the local cultural and community activities that make the City of Falls Church a vibrant, engaging and special place to live.”

The impact of the project on the City is expected to generate a net of $417,000 to $963,000 annually to the tax coffers of the City, said F.C. Economic Development specialist Rick Goff, compared to $64,000 that is derived from the location at present.

Changes from the earlier plans include the removal of 46,050 square feet of grocery store, an addition from 33,400 to 66,700 square feet of office square footage, a decline from 303 to 289 residential units, an increase in retail from 20,550 to 26,300 square feet.

Heights are dropped from 65-to-76 feet to 45-to-65 feet on the Lawton Street side, from 76-to-91 feet to 65-to-89 feet on the Broad Street side and from 78-to-91 feet on the N. Washington Street side to 74-to-89 feet.

The plan includes 5,000 square feet of community theater space for Creative Cauldron as a permanent home.

The developer contends that it “complements existing uses in the core entertainment area, including the State Theater, Clare and Don’s Beach Shack and Argia’s while showcasing, supporting and promoting local cultural activities,” it “creates interior and exterior gathering spaces that feel ‘like home’ and are warm and welcoming, and facilitate a sense of community engagement with serendipitous interactions,” it “develops an enduring building that respects the history of Falls Church with timeless, sophisticated spaces that age gracefully,” and architecture that is “a disciplined blend of time-tested solutions with a contemporary flair designed to evoke a timeless feeling and not a ‘look.’”

It will attract ground floor restaurants along arcade, street retail, and an office entrance and residential entrance that provide “an urban, walkable, pedestrian friendly street edge.”

There will be structured parking for all uses, mostly below grade and screened by retail or landscaping and the residential units will be augmented by a pool, courtyards, fitness area and indoor and outdoor gathering places, with “appropriate buffering and screening for adjacent residential property.”
The plan is due to come to the City Council for a first reading this Monday, with a final approval set for early October.