Vienna Hires Consultant to Craft Economic Development Strategy

The Town of Vienna has hired the real estate consulting firm Streetsense to conduct a market study and formulate an economic development strategy that the town can use to support and attract businesses.

The Vienna Town Council approved the $100,000 contract last night (Monday). Half of the funding comes from Fairfax County through an Economic Development Support Fund grant.

For the market study, Streetsense will be responsible for analyzing Vienna’s commercial market and proposing policies, programs, and strategies that could improve its competitiveness and address challenges, such as vacancy rates.

The study will be used to create the economic development strategy, which “will provide a roadmap to guide business recovery, better support existing businesses, and bring in complementary new businesses,” the town says in a news release.

“Streetsense has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to retail and other businesses,” Vienna Economic Development Manager Natalie Monkou said. “We’re confident that not only does the Streetsense team have the skill set to complete the market study and strategy development, but that they also understand the need for inclusivity and have the capability to assist the Town in reaching out to Vienna’s diverse businesses and business stakeholders.”

Streetsense was chosen for the project out of 13 teams that responded to a request for proposals that Vienna issued in October. Five finalists were then chosen for interviews by a four-person selection committee that consisted of three town staff members and an economic development professional from the Town of Herndon.

Streetsense will partner with fellow consultant RCLCO Real Estate Advisors to conduct the market study, a process that will include a kick-off meeting, site visits, a survey of consumers and businesses, and conversations with stakeholders.

In its proposal to the Town of Vienna, Streetsense says its analysis will focus on the physical environment of the town’s commercial areas, local economic conditions, demographic and market data, and the town’s administrative capacity and resources.

The need to develop a clear economic development strategy has emerged as a priority for the Town of Vienna after its attempt to encourage redevelopment and mixed-use projects by establishing a Maple Avenue Commercial zone floundered.

The town hired Monkou as its first economic development manager in November 2019, and it is currently working to update its zoning code with Code Create Vienna, a process that is expected to be completed towards the end of this year.

Streetsense says that Vienna is at a “critical juncture” in its evolution, particularly in light of the economic challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Town is in need of a forward-thinking, clear, and actionable roadmap to guide business recovery and resilience efforts, as well as key investment decisions in the coming years,” the consulting firm said in its proposal.

According to the Town of Vienna, the market study and economic development strategy are both expected to be finished this summer.

Staff Photo by Jay Westcott

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