Local Commentary

Editorial: ‘Eastern Seaboard’s Most Valuable Parcel’

The sequence of seemingly painless unanimous 7-0 votes by the Falls Church City Council late Monday night came without bells and whistles but were no less consequential. Taken together they marked the end of an amazing process that has birthed by far the biggest development in the history of the Little City’s 2.2 square miles and promises to make it among the richest in America.

Going back aways, the City’s leaders were able to convert a cumbersome asset, its ownership since the 1930s of a 120-mile-long water system that its Fairfax County neighbor coveted, into a 9.75-acre chunk of real estate that it has deftly transformed into what it sold for a not-so-small fortune and promises to generate no less than $5 million in tax revenues, annually, to the City coffers.

Those numbers could easily rise as two components adjacent to the 9.75 acres — one occupied by Virginia Tech and the other being WMATA’s West Falls Church Metrorail station site — move aggressively to develop in tandem with the F.C. site and deliver to the region one of its premiere mixed-use assemblages, transit-oriented and filled with housing, including senior and affordable units, a hotel and consumer-friendly amenities of a variety of types. Beyond all this are the prospects for the ways in which assembled Beyer Automotive and Federal Realty properties next to it will be folded in.

As this moves ahead now with dispatch, the total ballgame will outstrip slower and more discombobulated developments in the nearby Tysons region, jumping to the head of the line in terms of establishing a premiere place to live, work and play for Falls Church area folks, existing and to be. It will massively enhance the property values of existing single family homeowners here, to boot, as it will make Falls Church, in conjunction with its having one of the finest public school systems in America, a highly preferred place to reside.

So, Monday’s key votes set in motion the development that will arise on top of the recently demolished old George Mason High, sitting adjacent to a brand new state of the art high school, that will be the envy of the region, the nation and the whole wide world. The top drawer developers brought on to oversee its development only help to assure us this will be the outcome. We can’t wait to see it rise up on the rubble of the old high school.

There’s a long history to Falls Church’s efforts to achieve the best outcome from that parcel of land, long before it was actually annexed into the City limits, that was underscored by those who, as this paper loudly touted since its earliest years, called the undeveloped real estate “one of the potentially most valuable parcels on the eastern seaboard.”
The News-Press has called attention to that prediction repeatedly over its 30 years in business, so we’re really happy it’s actually coming to pass.