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‘Adapted Use Projects’ Underway

Not to be overlooked because of all the giant cranes working around the Little City these days, working on major projects at the West End and the downtown intersection, there are plenty of smaller adapted reuse projects at sites in the City’s downtown strip aimed at keeping things interesting. Most of them were discussed at yesterday’s meeting of the City Council’s Economic Development Committee meeting at City Hall, and all are scheduled to produce significant if modest changes to the retail landscape in the coming months.

There is the long-anticipated revamp and reopening of the hotel space at 421 W. Broad, the location with the big “Meeting House” sign painted on the fresh coat of handsome gray paint that has transformed the combination hotel and florist previously there. A city official was raving about the attractiveness on the inside of the new buildout that is supposed to be a combination of cafe (“Dolce Ciabatta”), bakery, hotel (40 rooms or so), and beer garden and set to open next month. During warm weather, the plan is to have the Solace restaurant across the street operate an outdoor beer garden there.

There is the redo by the Young Group of the bank building barely a block away that will open this fall as a refreshing drive-through Smoothie King with outdoor dining and a fitness operation (“Fyzical”) upstairs. It’s about ready to go.

Announcing its imminent closing is Liberty Barbecue, to be reborn soon as The Falls restaurant, on the 300 block of W. Broad. The owners, who also operate the popular Northside Social, are telling patrons, “Over the past year, we decided that we wanted to expand and refine what we’ve offered at Liberty Barbecue. This includes a refreshed interior space and broader food and beverage offerings, with an emphasis on regionally sourced seasonal ingredients and fresh baked goods, prepared with care.”

The Troika market that was in the Tower Square shopping center is relocating to a small space adjacent to the Cuates Grill on the ground floor of The Broadway in the 400 block of West Broad, part of what once was The Locker Room there.

Finally, the property that is the site of the former Stratford Motel in the 200 block of W. Broad that is now boarded up is the subject of negotiations on interim uses that might at least make it more attractive.

Diedre Johnson of the Federal Realty group that has recently renovated what is now called the “Birch and Broad” strip shopping center in the 1100 block of W. Broad, told the group that the key to the future success of retail in Falls Church has to do with the creation of a “critical mass” of people in the area who will patronize the businesses, although she did not have a formula for that. She said the key to the success of that has to do with creating “a diversity of housing types” for residents, including low income options to address the needs of “back of the house” workers in the businesses involved.