Local Commentary

Editorial: F.C. as Regional ‘Wingman’

In a development that should be a major boon to the City of Falls Church’s economic growth potentials, 10 Northern Virginia governments came together to agree upon a memorandum of understanding to form a new Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance (NOVA-EDA) needed as a vehicle to capture some funding from Richmond, but most importantly, to work in tandem to attract more major new development for the region. Rather than having the jurisdictions — the counties of Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun, Prince William and Fauquier and the independent cities of Falls Church, Alexandria, Fairfax, Manassas and Manassas Park — competing against each other in pursuit of new developments, they will now collaborate, with the point man for Falls Church being its Director of Economic Development Jim Snyder.

While the wisdom of such a move is self-evident, in our view, for all its participants, it will achieve a number of important things for Falls Church, as the smallest of the included jurisdictions, in particular. That is, rather than being lost among the taller trees of its surrounding jurisdictions, Falls Church will now be at the table for all efforts at attracting quality new economic projects, and will be able to tout its advantages, as a piece of the regional puzzle. Such advantages include its central location, “small town” quality of life, top-shelf schools, proximity to higher education facilities and major transportation and transit corridors, equidistance between two major airports, and amenities such as a high number of fine restaurants, the unique Eden Center experience, quiet and friendly neighborhoods and one of the nation’s finest local community newspapers carrier-delivered to every household that gives anyone wanting to do business in the local Falls Church market an enormous communication and advertising advantage.

We hope this combination of high-attractive factors will continue to drive new business to Falls Church even without the benefit of the new alliance, but it will help that the City will be seen as a “wingman” to its bigger Fairfax and Arlington sisters, in particular, providing specialized amenities to provide, for example, a quality of life for a quality workforce serving the wider region.

Based on this, it is evident that the City needs to focus on two areas where improvements are in dire need: Class A office space and affordable housing.

There is no Class A office space now, and none due until the Little City Commons project is completed in 2024. This represents a terrible lack, a potentially critical lost opportunity, something the City should move quickly to correct.

The second factor is also crucial for the economic vitality of the City, though it is usually thought of as unrelated to economic growth and as limited to some obligatory “do-gooder” category. Nope. Amazon and other things coming mean for Falls Church terrific returns from “workforce” affordable housing developments of the type desperately needed across the entire U.S.