Developers are all set to bring a new commercial area resembling the Mosaic District to the City of Falls Church.
The City Council unanimously approved Little City Commons, a proposed mixed-use development south of the West Falls Church Metro station, on Monday (July 8).
Back in May, the City Council approved the signing of a comprehensive agreement with EYA, PN Hoffman and Regency Centers for their planned 1.3 million-square-foot development of nearly 10 acres at the George Mason High School (7124 Leesburg Pike).
The first phase of the Little City Commons development will include:
- roughly 150 condominiums, 425 multifamily units and 200 senior housing units
- 140,000 square feet of office space
- 123,400 square feet of retail
- 40,000 square feet for a grocery store
- 85,000 square feet for a hotel
The development will also include a major public open space called The Commons, according to the press release.
“Working with the City of Falls Church and the community in a collaborative effort, we have made significant progress over the last six months to make this transformative project a reality,” Evan Goldman, the executive vice president of acquisition and development for EYA, said in a press release.
Next up, Goldman said that the developers will begin work on obtaining site plan exceptions and approvals prior to construction, which is slated to start in 2021 after work on the new George Mason High School next door is finished.
The development of Little City Commons will defray costs for the new George Mason High School, which is set to start construction this summer, according to the press release.
Chinchillas, hedgehogs, turtles, hermit crabs and tortoises are one step closer to legalized pet status in the City of Falls Church.
The city is considering adding the animals to the list of allowed pets about five months after Fairfax County legalized pet hedgehogs, chinchillas and hermit crabs.
Similar to debate on the county level earlier this year, a Falls Church City Council meeting last Monday (June 10) focused mostly on the hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals that require space, exercise and room temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure they do not start hibernating, according to the Hedgehog Welfare Society. Along with cats, dogs, frogs, hamsters and many other animals, hedgehogs can spread salmonella, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
While Arlington County decided in 2017 to allow chinchillas and hedgehogs, hermit crabs are still illegal there.
Isabel D., a junior at George Mason High School and one of several students to testify in support of legalizing the animals, told the City Council that Arlington and Fairfax counties went through an extensive review process before deciding to allow more exotic animals as pets.
“I think you already know that many of our residents have these pets currently,” she said. “That is not because people want to disobey the law. It is because, unless they actually read the city code, they would have no way of suspecting that a pet like a turtle or a hedgehog or hermit crab would be outlawed in our city. They are cute and just as harmless as the pets that are allowed.”
Currently, the city allows dogs, cats, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, ferrets, birds, goldfish and aquarium fish, nonpoisonous snakes, rabbits, mice and rats as pets.
Councilmembers Phil Duncan and Ross Litkenhous both fessed up to unwittingly owning hermit crabs illegally.
While Duncan said that his current ownership of two hermit crabs is a conflict of interest, he said that residents might have anxiety about bringing illegal pets to the vet, possibly jeopardizing the health of the pet and human.
“The city attorney said I can vote on this because I have no financial interest, I’m not a trader,” Duncan said. In response to the audience laughing, he added, “I’m serious about this. This is the kind of stuff you stay up at night worrying about. This can and will be used against you in a campaign, I can tell you.”
Meanwhile, Litkenhous said, “I didn’t know you can’t have hermit crabs. We’ve probably violated that law three to four times over at my house.”
While sharing why he is “fully in support of this resolution,” Litkenhous tackled concerns about health and safety often surrounding the hedgehog pet debate.
“I have birthed live cows with my bare hands before, and I can tell you I have never once in my life ever gotten sick or known anyone who has gotten sick by handling these types of animals,” he said.
In response to concerns that exotic animals legalized as pets face more monetization and abuse, Litkenhous said all kinds of animals are at some type of risk.
Ultimately, he argued that animals shouldn’t be banned as pets for good owners who would treat them humanely.
Councilmember David Snyder also expressed support for continuing consideration of the proposed change.
“The existing law allows the keeping of rats, but [not] hedgehogs and chinchillas — really?” Snyder questioned. While Rebecca Keenan, the animal warden for the city’s police department, responded that rats are allowed since snake owners often feed them live rats, Snyder said that “a lot” of residents want the City Council to legalize the exotic animals as pets.
The Falls Church City Council recently voted to move forward a series of developments that would transform the area south of the West Falls Church Metro station into a new commercial center and gateway into the city.
The council unanimously approved the signing of a comprehensive agreement with EYA, PN Hoffman and Regency Centers for their planned development of nearly 10 acres at the George Mason High School, the Falls Church News-Press reported.
The current George Mason High School is set to be demolished and replaced with a new commercial area like the Mosaic District in Merrifield.
The approval of the comprehensive agreement now allows the Falls Church City Schools to solidify plans for the construction of a new high school next to the current one, the Falls Church News-Press noted.
The council decided to delay a final vote to July 8 on the specific exception entitlement after the development faced last-minute changes, which included removing the structured parking lot near the new high school and reverting back to a surface lot for school use, according to the Falls Church News-Press.
Rendering via City of Falls Church
FCPS Isolation Practices Questioned — “For years, Fairfax County Public Schools reported to the federal government that not a single student was physically restrained or trapped in an isolating space. But documents obtained by WAMU reveal hundreds of cases where children, some as young as 6 years old, were restrained or put in seclusion multiple times. In some cases, a single child was confined to a room almost 100 times in a school year.” [WAMU]
Falls Church Budget Proposal — “Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields proposed a Fiscal Year 2020 (FY2020) budget of $99.3 million, which provides for a 2.4 percent ($958,408) increase in general government operating expenditures and a 2.5 percent ($1,044,231) increase in local funding for public schools, as requested by the School Board.” [City of Falls Church]
Local Students Emerge As State Chess Champs — “Students from four Fairfax County public schools won team championships in all four K-12 divisions at the Virginia Scholastic Chess Championships held recently in Charlottesville… The K-3 team from Spring Hill Elementary School won the team title in its age group.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]
McLean Teacher’s Wedding Gets NYT Write-up — Sara Rhodin, a history teacher at the private, all-girls Madeira School in McLean, had her recent nuptials to former Obama speechwriter Tyler Lechtenberg written up in the New York Times’ wedding section. [New York Times]
Tysons Reporter Event Calendar — Tysons Reporter has launched its Tysons, McLean, Vienna and Falls Church event calendar. The calendar has been pre-populated with events from around the region to start, but expect to see more local events being added every week. You can submit events to the calendar here.
(Updated March 21) — Today, the area south of the West Falls Church Metro station is split between an aging high school and a parking deck, but a series of developments could completely transform the area into a new commercial center.
At least one of the developments hinge on a new George Mason High School being rebuilt just to the northwest of its current location, facing the former school site which is planned to be demolished and turned into a new commercial area like the Mosaic District in Merrifield.
Just months before construction is scheduled to break ground on June 14, details of the school are still being adjusted. At a town hall on Feb. 24, staff working on the project ran through some of the changes and outlined the timeline for the site.
“Where we were is not where we are now,” said Derk Jeffrey, principal architect for the project. “We’re in a much stronger place to meet the needs of the school.”
Staff at the meeting said the rooms and walls are all set for the project’s design, and at this point, most of the tinkering includes just minor adjustments.
The project was reviewed at an architectural advisory board meeting last night (Wednesday) and is scheduled to be reviewed by the Planning Commission in April/May with approval from the city planned for June. Falls Church City Public Schools Superintendent Peter Noonan said construction is planned to start as soon as school is out.
If approved, the construction on the project is scheduled to begin immediately with the new school projected to open in January 2021. Once the new school is completed, work is planned to start on a sprawling new West Falls Church Economic Development Project led by developers EYA, PN Hoffman and Regency Centers.
The project is described as a gateway to the city with a focus on pedestrian-oriented streets.
Plans for the site include:
- 390,000 square feet of office space
- 126,400 square feet of retail
- 288 units of multi-family apartments
- 245 condominium units
- 150-200 senior housing units
- 40 affordable housing units
The plans also call for nearly an acre of open space in an area called Little City Commons, a gathering place and venue for community events.
A hotel with conference space is also planned for the site.
On Feb. 28, the project received preliminary approval from the Falls Church City Council but will come back for a final vote in May.
Meanwhile, details are still scarce on the plans to redevelop the parking lots at the West Falls Church station with potentially 700 residential units, 150,000 square feet of office space and 50,000 square feet of retail.
A Virginia Tech academic facility at the site is also in the early stages of redevelopment into 205,000 square feet of academic space, along with a 100,000-square-foot lab and 300,000 square feet of residential space.
Police Looking for Missing Local Man — Fairfax County Police are asking for the public’s help finding a missing, endangered 21-year-old man who was last seen January 31 on the 3100 block of Monticello Drive in Falls Church. [Twitter]
Part of Development Project Offered for Sale — “A piece of the planned 2.5-million-square-foot Arbor Row mixed-use development in Tysons is being offered for sale as its owners seek to capitalize on the momentum growing through other recently completed or planned projects in the area.” [Washington Business Journal, Bisnow]
West Falls Church Development Modified — The Falls Church City Council is set to vote on a series of five modifications to a plan for the private development of a 10.3 acre city-owned property near the West Falls Church Metro station. Among the changes are “an increase in residential density allowing an additional 50,000 square feet in senior housing and an additional 100,000 square feet in residential density of either condominiums or studio and one bedroom apartments.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Pair Arrested for Mall Theft, Assault on Officer — Two women from Laurel, Maryland were arrested last week and charged with stealing items from the Superdry store at Tysons Corner Center. One of the women is charged with assault on law enforcement after allegedly trying to fight the arresting officers. [FCPD]
Gannett Rejects Takeover Offer — Tysons-based newspaper chain Gannett has rejected an unsolicited takeover proposal, made by a hedge fund-owned company best known for slashing costs and jobs. [USA Today, BusinessWire]
Free Soup at Barnes and Noble — The Tysons Corner Center Barnes and Noble store is offering free soup with the purchase of a sandwich this month. [Instagram]