Outdoor gathering spaces are all the rage at Birch & Broad, the shopping center formerly known as Falls Plaza.
Property owner Federal Realty Investment Trust cut a ribbon last Friday (Dec. 17) to mark the completion of its nine-month-long effort to renovate the 144,000 square-foot strip mall at 1200 W. Broad Street in Falls Church.
In addition to getting a new name, Birch & Broad overhauled its building facades, replaced the existing signage, and reconfigured some parking to add spaces designed for curbside pickup, though not all of the designated spots had been marked as of Friday.
The centerpiece of the refurbished shopping center is a patio in front of Present Nails salon and Tasty Dumpling that features a gas-lit fireplace and picnic table-style seating.
“We’re really, really happy with the way it turned out,” Federal Realty Vice President of Development Jay Brinson said. “We think the investment that we made in public spaces and gathering spaces is exactly where retail’s going.”
Construction on the renovation began in April. Supply-chain issues held up the delivery of some materials, requiring substitutions, but otherwise, contractor LF Jenning was able to generally adhere to the project’s expected timeline and budget, according to Brinson.
While plans in the works prior to the pandemic, Federal Realty hopes the emphasis on outdoor seating areas, redesigned parking, and other changes will make its half-century-old shopping center more attractive during and after COVID-19 to both tenants and community members.
The real estate company announced last month that it had landed three new tenants. All of them are on track to open by early next summer, led by Crumbl Cookies in March, according to Federal Realty Vice President of Asset Management Deirdre Johnson.
Interior construction work for a fourth upcoming tenant, Taco Rock, could be heard during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Johnson estimates that the fast-casual restaurant and bar is about 60 days away from opening.
Once those spaces are filled, the shopping center will be fully occupied except for one 5,000 square-foot basement space that Federal Realty anticipates being turned into a children’s gym, Johnson says, though no deal is in place yet.
Other changes at Birch & Broad focused on sustainability, including the full adoption of LED lighting, the use of native plants for landscaping, and a handful of electric vehicle charging stations.
The Volta charging stations came courtesy of that company’s partnership with Giant Food, whose anchor store at the shopping center underwent a remodel concurrently with the overall renovation.
“They’ve been rolling that out nationally in cooperation with Federal Realty and several other property owners,” Brinson said of the EV charging stations. “…We’re going to be looking to do more and more of those in the near-future.”
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