Local Commentary

Editorial: ‘Boom’ Goes The Little City!

One of the popular words of greeting for those attending the Falls Church City Public Schools’ annual convocation this Tuesday was, “Happy New Year!”

Indeed, the rhythmic heartbeat of the City of Falls Church is set to a calendar that begins right after Labor Day each year, when the official start of the school year commences. Along with it, everything that was paused over the summer (on the assumption that everyone was out of town on exotic vacations) gears up. Be careful to check your calendars for the next two months, because they’re going to be choked with events of all types, all creatures great and small.

As Falls Church Mayor David Tarter also notes in his annual exclusive mayor’s interview with the News-Press, this coming fall marks a period of the continued intensive growth of the City of Falls Church’s economic, educational and civic infrastructure. The past 12 months saw a remarkably smooth and productive progression to where we stand today that included the completion of the renovation and expansion of City Hall, the onset of construction of an all-new state-of-the-art George Mason High School, the ongoing construction of the 4.3-acre Founders Row mixed-use project, the biggest in the City’s history, and the smooth progress toward the construction of another project, more than twice the Founders Row size, at the City’s west end that will commence once the new high school is completed and the existing one demolished.

In the midst of all this, there have been improvements that citizens here may be even more keenly aware of, including a lot of less pricey sidewalk, parking and crosswalk, improvements that make the City more pedestrian-friendly, safe and walkable. A lot more of those sorts of things are also in the works for the next year.

An overriding reality facing the City and the entire region is the so-called Amazon effect, not of the burning rainforests in Brazil, but of the giant domestic commercial mega-giant that chose Northern Virginia for what will now become the lion’s share of its second major headquarters just down the road in neighboring Arlington. The prospective impact of that move, including major decisions by Virginia Tech and a host of feeder industries, has been a major shock to the system of an already fast-growing, high-tech region, and the expected skyrocketing of real estate values is being seen now, even years in advance of Amazon’s actual arrival.

(Comes the news this week that a nine-story building just down the road in Ballston sold for 30 percent above its sale price of just two years ago.)

In the face of all these heady developments, it is heartening that the City schools is placing a strong emphasis on reaching the marginalized population, and we hope the City Council follow suit with some serious progress on affordable housing this fall.