Mill Creek Residential, in charge of the development of the 4.3-acre Founder’s Row project at the intersection of N. West and W. Broad Streets, has submitted new paperwork to City Hall in Falls Church, with a goal of getting its long-delayed project moving forward, the City’s Planning Director Paul Stoddard reported to the F.C. Planning Commission Monday night.
According to Stoddard, the group is on the verge of closing a deal with a motion picture theater company for the site’s promised theater complex, and as soon as that happens, it will seek to move its plans forward at City Hall with scheduled work sessions and further action.
City Economic Development chief Jim Snyder told the News-Press Tuesday that Mill Creek is hoping it can begin development on the site by mid-August, a process that would begin with the demolition of existing structures on the property.
However, the ability to move ahead will be contingent on a significant change to the special exception that the F.C. Council had approved unanimously more than two years ago (in January 2016).
That deals with the biggest cause of the delay, the inability of the developers to secure a hotel for the building on the northeast corner of the W. Broad and N. West St. site. That is not going to change, according to Snyder, so the developers will seek a change to the special exception to permit the building to provide for age-restricted senior apartment housing instead of a hotel.
In learning of this plan at Monday’s Planning Commission meeting, commissioners were perplexed at the Mill Creek plan that would involve, as Stoddard explained it, a site plan with the hotel included as before, then follow that with a formal request for the Council to approve a revision that would remove the hotel.
Why seek site plan approval for something everyone knows will need to be modified, asked commissioner Melissa Teates.
There is nothing formally scheduled for a Planning Commission (which needs to OK the site plan) or City Council (which would need to approve a change to the special exception approval of the overall project). But Snyder said that the setting of dates to begin moving ahead will be forthcoming within the next days.
He said the age-restricted senior housing alternative to a hotel will be attractive, because of the many amenities that will be available to the residents from other components of the site, slated to offer restaurants, the movie theater complex, an array of other retailers and walkable open spaces.