Two major chain retailers have announced plans in the last two days to move to within blocks of each other in downtown City of Falls Church.
Wednesday, Target formally announced plans to open a 26,000-square foot, small-format store on the now-vacant ground floor of the new Lincoln at Tinner Hill mixed-use development project on S. Washington, projected to open next March. It was also reported Tuesday that just up the street at the Tower Square Shopping Center, the German-based discount grocery chain Aldi has signed a lease for a 19,000-square foot store, replacing the Halalco supermarket and other stores there now.
The news comes as a major boost to potential new revenues to the City, and not a moment too soon as the prospect of paying for a new high school and renovations at City Hall and the library loom. City Hall’s economic development office, in addition to helping work out the details of the new additions, will be calculating how much the City can expect to gain in terms of new tax revenues to help pay for these needs.
City Councilman Phil Duncan, chair of the Council’s Economic Development committee, hailed the news, saying that Target “will be a highly popular addition to the City’s commercial mix, a national retailer that’s within strolling distance of thousands of City residents as well as our neighbors in nearby county neighborhoods. The Target-Aldi announcements come at a really great time that helps us make the case to citizens that we are not relying on the residential tax alone to pay for a new high school, City Hall and library improvements.”
As for Target, in a press statement issued Wednesday, the new location “will be the company’s fifth small-location store in the greater Washington, D.C. area, joining the Rosslyn, College Park, Bethesda and Ballston (projected to open in 2021) locations.” Larger Target stores are already functioning at Seven Corners and the Mosaic District on either side of the new Falls Church location. The new store will fill the vacuum left at the Lincoln at Tinner Hill when The Fresh Market, originally inked to move in there, back out of their deal.
“Target is focused on expanding small-format stores in dense urban and suburban neighborhoods, as well as on college campuses,” the corporate statement noted. “With small-format stores, Target provides assortments tailored to meet the needs of local customers, a quick-trip shopping experience with a curated assortment mix, including a grocery selection with a focus on wellness offerings, including fresh produce, grab-and-go items, snacks and meal solutions.”
The store is coming into a neighborhood already dominated since its opening a year ago by a new Harris-Teeter 24-hour supermarket and to be shared soon with Aldi, a smaller grocery option coming in, part of a 900-store expansion of the company’s brand into the U.S. It will be the 14th location in Northern Virginia. The Falls Church store is scheduled to open in early 2019, according to the McLean-based Rappaport company that brokered the deal (they’re also involved in the Target deal and the Harris Teeter deal in Falls Church before that).
Aldi, the name being short for “Albrecht Discount,” is owned by a company in Essen, Germany, that controls thousands of outlets in Europe, and also owns Trader Joe’s in the U.S.
The store will go into the space now occupied by the Halalco Market, plus spaces next to that that include a Russian food store, Troika Gastronom, that will relocate to the other end of the shopping center into a currently-vacant space next to an ABC store.
As for Target, there are already 36 small-format stores open around the U.S. and 130 slated to be opened by the end of 2019. In addition to groceries, the store here promises to offer home decor and accessories, beauty, health and personal care products, apparel and accessories for men, women and children, electronic and entertainment items, a selection of toys and sporting goods and a CVS pharmacy and order pickup, as well as Target’s own pickup service, offering convenience and security of buying online and picking up at the store, usually within one hour of the ordering.
Duncan touted the Target announcement as enhancing the “SoBro” (South of Broad) section of the Little City, adjacent to Pizzeria Orso, the Happy Tart and Elevation Burger.” Other new additions in the immediate area include Falls Church Distillers, which is on the verge of opening directly across from the future Target location, and a relocated Panjshir Restaurant into the Lily Building (100 E. Fairfax) that will also feature a new brew pub.
These are all slated to be augmented by a three-phase multi-modal project on S. Washington at Hillwood that will begin with utility line undergrounding this summer to become a transit plaza with bus shelters, benches and bike racks augmented by brick pavers, street lighting, new signage, rain gardens and landscaping.
Duncan noted that the coming developments there cast the new Pearson Square Apartments “in a more positive light,” given that the project’s conversion from condos to rental apartments disappointed City residents a half-dozen years ago. But by replacing “scruffy old warehouses and old auto uses,” and in conjunction with the Lincoln at Tinner Hill and other new developments, including new ones that will want to be next to the Target once it opens, “we are creating a vibe on S. Washington that will continue to bring proper amenities to that neighborhood, among other things bringing more people into contact with the City’s rich civil rights history symbolized by the Tinner Hill arch located there now.”
All this “validates the City as a highly sought-after place to do business,” Rick Goff, director of Economic Development for the City, said in a statement from City Hall Wednesday. “Our office has put in a lot of time behind the scenes with marketing, recruitment and relationship cultivation. The persistence is paying off.”
Falls Church Mayor David Tarter is quoted in a statement saying, “This is a big win and perfect fit for the City’s vibrant, diverse community of families, young professionals and active adults.”