After a decade since the project was first proposed, the first 20 residents began moving in this Monday to the massive 4.3 acre Founders Row development project at the intersection of W. Broad and N. West Street in the City of Falls Church.
The additional traffic signal light at N. West and Park has also been installed and drivers will need to get used to it, including the elimination of an automatic pass through on West. Concerns for bikers and pedestrians on the W&OD Trail there will also require getting adjusted to. The new four-way stop lights will be blinking until Monday, Oct. 1, it was reported at Monday’s City Council meeting.
Joe Muffler, Managing Director of Mill Creek Residential, said that leasing has done well so far with 20 residential leases having been signed and residents starting to move in. There are currently 60 units with certificates of occupancy but more are expected to open up in the coming months as construction continues.
The apartment complex, Modera by Mill Creek, has one amenity space open as well as three floors completed in the multi-family building.
Eventually, there will be five stories with a total of 322 apartments ranging in size from studios to two bedrooms. There will also be a separate age-restricted community for those age 55 or older with 72 units.
According to their website, amenities in the luxury complex will include, “a resident clubhouse with connected business center, library, game room, kitchen and bar, two 24-hour club-quality fitness studios, pet spa, hotel-inspired pool, outdoor social area featuring grills and fire pits, self-serve package lockers, coffee bar and controlled-access garage parking.”
In addition to residential spaces opening up, leases are being signed for retail tenants. Five retail tenants have agreed to terms and leases are expected to be executed in the next 30 days and announcements on who those retailers are can be expected shortly thereafter. While the tenants have not yet been announced, Muffler informed City Council that all five will be food and beverage establishments.
Negotiations are also in the works with a few other retail establishments, also in the food and beverage realm.
The Covid pandemic brought on considerable problems for the project. “We were approved and closed and started construction on this deal in November 2018, so three years ago just about,” said Muffler, “We had 50 percent of the retail leased and after the pandemic we had z of it leased. The groups we were working with either went bankrupt or had a complete inability financially to occupy the space. So we really had to start over from square one on the retail scene.”
The retail space is expected to be anchored by a movie theater and Muffler told the City Council that the theatre remains a priority. He stated that they are near a term sheet with one interested party but that three other groups have expressed interest as things begin to reopen and people start seeing movies in person again.
Muffler hopes to see the project finished in the next four to six months with more residents moving in and retailers beginning to open their doors.
“I think it’s important to know that these things follow a prescriptive timeline,” said Muffler. “Retail is an extended timeline which is why it’s such a shame that 2020 was awash because otherwise we’d be sitting here pretty with a handful of retailers already under construction but the reality is that we were essentially delayed a year in our ability to get that retail process started. We’re excited about who we have, we wish they were opening up sooner but when they do open it’ll be a very fun day.”
Muffler also said that he appreciates how understanding folks have been before and during construction and that while he knows everyone is anxious to see what’s coming, he hopes the completed project will exceed everyone’s expectations as it has his own.
Many announcements are expected to come over the course of the next six months with more details on the retailers and the apartment complex.