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The Movies Are Coming to F.C.’s Founders Row

The Mill Creek Residential Trust, developers of the new Founder’s Row mixed use development at the intersection of W. Broad and N. West Streets in the center of the City of Falls Church, announced through a new filing with the City that it is “in the final stages of securing a lease with Paragon Theaters,” noting that “Paragon will operate a seven-screen movie theater, including an IMAX-similar screen with a total capacity of approximately 600 seats.”

This is one less screen and approximately 150 fewer seats than previously agreed to in the voluntary concessions previously agreed to by the City, so this necessitates a revised application that was considered by the City Council last Monday night.

The plan is for Paragon to follow the multi-screen models it now operates in Delray Beach and Naples, Florida, Cary, North Carolina and Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Joe Muffler, the point person for Mill Creek in dealings with the City, told the City Council this Monday that Paragon “is a very good operator with a very good product.”

The timetable at this point is to have the lease buttoned up by September 30, building permits granted by December 31 and the complex to be open to the public by the end of 2023 at the latest.
The new terms with the City being considered now include subsidies to help the theater get off the ground that would come entirely from ticket and meals sales related to the project and not a dime from the public.

Roughly, revenues from ticket sales taxes up to $360,000 and meals taxes up to $150,000 would be applied to the subsidy. $3.6 million will be held in escrow and 16 certificates of occupancy for residential rental units will be held back pending the successful execution of the deal.

It is estimated that upon completion there will be 350,000 customers of the theaters annually.
The revenues that will accrue from this to the City includes what will be yielded in meals taxes from the eight restaurants now set to operate in the Founders Row project.

Restaurants set to go soon include Elle Bird, Chasin’ Tails, Roll Play Grill and Nue. Another four, Kyu Ramen, Kyo Matcha, Club Pilates and 4Ever Young, are committed to coming in later.

The Covid pandemic killed an earlier deal that Mill Creek, operating as Founders Row Holdings LLC, struck with a movie operator that went out of business because of the pandemic.

Muffler quipped that he thanked Tom Cruise for his blockbuster “Top Gun” hit this summer that returned millions to movie theaters.

The Council formally adopted two resolutions unanimously to move the process along pending final approvals at its Sept. 12 meeting. They involve changing the 2015 approved concessions to accommodate the needs of the new operators.

With Mayor David Tarter and Council member David Snyder absent, it marked the first meeting chaired by Vice Mayor Letty Hardi.