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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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The owner of the Pan Am Shopping Center wants to overhaul the aging strip mall, potentially turning it into the latest effort to bring mixed-use development to the Vienna Metro station area.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors directed county staff yesterday (Tuesday) to evaluate a possible change to the comprehensive plan guidance for the shopping center at the southeast corner of Nutley Street and Route 29.

Property owner Federal Realty has expressed interest in working with the surrounding community on a redevelopment concept for Pan Am, according to Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik, who introduced the request for a review.

“This motion is intended to allow the planning process to be a platform for the property owner to work with staff and community stakeholders to consider how evolving the center to a more mixed-use environment could enhance the retail experience, ensure the long-term viability of the commercial center, and advance County objectives,” Palchik said in the board matter.

According to county land records, the Pan Am Shopping Center was built in 1979, and Federal Realty bought the 1 million square-foot parcel for over $21 million in 1993.

The center still boasts Safeway as an anchor, along with CVS, Microcenter, and Michael’s as major tenants, but it has seen a few notable departures over the past couple of years.

The former Baja Fresh space has been vacant since the restaurant closed in January 2019, and a standalone building that had been occupied by a Capital One bank and McDonald’s since the shopping center opened is now empty after the fast-food chain left earlier this year.

Most recently, the Chinese eatery Lo’s Restaurant closed permanently last week after switching to delivery-only service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While specific details likely won’t take shape for a while, Federal Realty says its goal with the redevelopment is to turn the Pan Am Shopping Center into “an amenitized and vibrant neighborhood.”

“We are constantly looking at ways to evolve our properties to best meet the needs of the communities that they serve,” Ramsey Meiser, Federal Realty’s senior vice president of development said. “Pan Am’s convenient location and close proximity to the Vienna Metro Station provides an opportunity to create an environment that  brings residential living to an already successful retail mix. We look forward to working with Supervisor Palchik, County staff and the community to make this vision a reality.”

Palchik says she expects any redevelopment to consider the area’s transportation capacity and potential impacts on existing neighborhoods, along with opportunities to provide more bicycle and pedestrian amenities and open space.

“Additionally the provision of housing would need to serve a variety of income levels,” she told Tysons Reporter by email. “It is my further expectation that the planning process will need to have robust community engagement.”

According to Palchik’s office, the comprehensive plan review doesn’t have a specific timeline yet, but Federal Realty is expected to begin the community engagement process before submitting a formal rezoning application.

The news of a possible Pan Am Shopping Center redevelopment comes as the Fairfax County Planning Commission is scheduled to vote tonight (Wednesday) on a proposal for five residential buildings with 35,000 square feet of commercial uses in the MetroWest neighborhood to the north.

If the plan is approved, developer Pulte Homes says it will finally be able to introduce retail around the Vienna Metro station, where attempts at mixed-use development have long floundered.

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The Falls Church shopping center Birch & Broad is nearing the end of an extensive renovation project (courtesy Federal Realty)

After making its Virginia debut in the Town of Vienna last year, Crumbl Cookies will add a second location in the Tysons area, this time at Birch & Broad (1200 W. Broad Street) in Falls Church.

Slated to open in March, the gourmet cookie shop will fill a 1,597 square-foot space in between Jersey Mike’s Subs and Domino’s Pizza at the shopping center formerly known as Falls Plaza, property owner Federal Realty announced yesterday (Wednesday).

The chain is also planning to open a Reston location in January.

“We’re looking forward to sharing Crumbl’s specialty cookies with the Falls Church community once we open at Birch & Broad,” franchise co-owner Brigg Bunker said. “…Crumbl will be the perfect place to stop in and grab dessert after a meal or for a sweet treat on the go.”

The shopping center will also add Taco Rock, Bolay Fresh Bold Kitchen, and Aqua-Tots Swim Schools in the coming months, while finishing a renovation project that began in April, according to a press release.

“As we approach the completion of the renovation, we are thrilled to welcome the addition of three more notable merchants advancing Birch & Broad to almost full occupancy,” Federal Realty Vice President of Asset Management Deirdre Johnson said.

Taco Rock

Taco Rock announced in June that it had closed a deal to build a 2,815-square-foot taqueria and tequila bar at Birch & Broad.

At that time, the Rosslyn-based restaurant expected its new venue to be ready in October, but beverage manager Ana Barrera tells Tysons Reporter that they now hope to open in December.

“We were anticipating on opening the first week of December,” Barrera said by email. “Unfortunately, since the supply chain for equipment is so backed up, we are moving our opening date to the last week of December if all goes smoothly…We look forward to opening our doors sooner rather than later!”

Bolay Fresh Bold Kitchen

Created by CEO Chris Gannon and his father, Outback Steakhouse founder Tim Gannon, Bolay is a fast-casual concept that sells salad, rice, and noodle bowls with an emphasis on healthy ingredients.

The Falls Church location will be Bolay’s first outside its native home of Florida. The 2,972 square-foot space is expected to open across the street from Birch & Broad’s CVS Pharmacy next summer.

“We’re in a growth phase and this will be a really exciting opening for us” Chris Gannon said. “Guests can expect fine dining food at the speed and cost of fast casual.”

Aqua-Tots Swim Schools

Aqua-Tots will open a 7,287 square-foot space adjacent to Staples next year.

Despite its name, the franchise provides swimming lessons and services to all ages. Its Northern Virginia presence currently consists of sites in Centreville, South Riding, and Leesburg.

“This is a moment of major expansion for the franchise, and we are excited to invite local families to register their little ones for world-class swimming lessons,” Andrew George, owner of the Falls Church site, said. “There are a lot of kids in the Falls Church area, and we can’t wait to get them in the water.”

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The culinary scene at Cedar Park Shopping Center is about to heat up, with three new restaurants planning to open this winter, even after one tenant recently bowed out of the Vienna strip mall.

Crepes & Karak Cafe (280 Cedar Lane SE) shuttered on Aug. 30 after more than four years at the shopping center. A sign posted to the door indicates that the eatery will be moving to a new location but does not mention where that might be.

“We want to make sure that we have enough kitchen space to provide our services,” the sign says. “Thank you for your support and understanding.”

Crepes & Karak did not return requests for comment by publication time.

When Cedar Park celebrated the completion of an extensive renovation in November, Crepes & Karak owner Ashraf Hamid told Tysons Reporter that he hoped the shopping center’s new look would attract more customers and foot traffic after his business saw a 60% drop in sales following its two-week shutdown for the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

Meanwhile, Cedar Park’s revitalization could soon kick into a near gear, as property owner First Washington Realty has leased more than 6,000 square feet of space combined to a trio of restaurants.

Sushi Koji

Sushi Koji (262H Cedar Lane) has been a decade in the making for husband-and-wife owners Hyung Joon Lee and Grace Park.

Though he’s Korean, Lee has spent years training and working as a chef at Japanese restaurants in the D.C. area, including Sushi Taro in D.C., where he learned from owner-chef Nobu Yamazaki. He has also won National Sushi Society competitions and other awards in both the U.S. and Japan, according to Park.

However, this is the couple’s first attempt at starting their own restaurant.

“Hyung Joon has always wanted to make good quality food and is excited that he is able to do so by opening his own restaurant,” Park told Tysons Reporter. “He will constantly develop and change the menu using fresh ingredients for every season.”

In addition to sushi, the menu’s primary focus will be on ramen, which will feature fresh noodles made from scratch. Dishes will use shio koji, the fermented seasoning that gives the restaurant its name.

Park, who is decorating and working with professional designers to set up the restaurant, says they started looking for possible locations in August. The Town of Vienna stood out for its budding foodie culture, but actually landing the vacant, 1,500 square-foot site in Cedar Park took some luck.

“It actually is kind of competitive,” Park said of finding retail space in the town. “We were surprised we were able to open the restaurant in Vienna, so we’re very excited about that.”

Fairfax County issued electrical and plumbing/gas permits to Sushi Koji on Sept. 9. Lee and Park hope to open the restaurant in early December. Read More

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Ulta Beauty is moving into the former Performance Bike Shop space in Tysons’ Pike 7 Plaza

Ulta Beauty will be the next addition to Pike 7 Plaza in Tysons, property owner Federal Realty Investment Trust announced yesterday (Wednesday).

Purportedly the nation’s largest beauty retailer, Ulta Beauty will open its new location in the shopping center at 8350 Leesburg Pike in the spring of 2022. Over 25,000 products from more than 600 brands will be available for purchase in the new 10,000 square-foot space, according to a press release.

The company sells cosmetics, fragrances, skin care and hair products, and other beauty-related items.

“We are thrilled to welcome Ulta Beauty to Pike 7 providing the Tysons community and surrounding neighborhoods with an unparalleled and comprehensive beauty experience in one convenient location,” Federal Realty Vice President of Asset Management Deirdre Johnson said. “Ulta has revolutionized the beauty experience by inspiring confidence and encouraging inclusivity with self-care options for everyone.”

Ulta Beauty will replace the old Performance Bicycle Shop, two doors down from Staples.

This will be Ulta Beauty’s fourth Fairfax County location. According to its website, the Illinois-headquartered company currently has stores in Fair City Mall, Fair Lakes, and Bailey’s Crossroads.

Federal Realty recently submitted a rezoning application to Fairfax County seeking to build a drive-through restaurant in the Pike 7 Plaza parking lot. The proposal is still under review by the county’s planning and development department.

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The McDonald’s at the Pan Am Shopping Center just outside of Vienna has closed.

Located at 3091 Nutley Street, the fast-food chain shared a standalone building in the shopping center with what used to be a Capital One Bank, though that space at 3095 Nutley has been vacated as well.

Neither McDonald’s nor Federal Realty, which owns the Pan Am Shopping Center, returned a request for comment on exactly when the location shuttered and what led to the closure.

Both 3091 and 3095 Nutley Street are now listed as available for leasing on Federal Realty’s webpage for the shopping center.

McDonald’s announced in July 2020 that it was permanently closing 200 stores, most of them in Walmarts. The move focused on “low-volume restaurants” and was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The existing office building at 1953 Gallows Road (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 3 p.m. on 6/29/2021) A developer is looking to transform a site with an eight-story, 88-foot-tall concrete office building into a three-building residential development called Flats at Tysons Corner.

The existing building at 1953 Gallows Road in Tysons would be replaced with a multifamily residential building with 225 to 260 units. The new structure would be 50 to 75 feet high and include a courtyard in its center, according to a development plan filed Tuesday (June 22) with Fairfax County.

Other proposed changes include converting parking lots into space for two 60-foot high multifamily buildings — one with 36 units and the other for 50 units, including 14 workforce dwelling units total — and also creating two publicly accessible parks with amenities such as lawn furniture, ping pong tables, and more.

The existing office building, built in 1983, would remain during the first phase of the project, which would focus on the parking lot area, and then be demolished in the second phase, per the development plan from Pulte Homes.

Approximately 2,628 square feet of space in the property’s northeastern corner will be set aside during the project’s first phase to accommodate a planned extension of Boone Boulevard in accordance with the county’s Tysons Comprehensive Plan, according to a statement of justification submitted by the law firm DLA Piper, which is representing Pulte.

The development will also contain a new service road that will be constructed as a future public street to connect Gallows Road to Boone Boulevard, with the potential to eventually be extended to Leesburg Pike.

In the statement of justification, DLA Piper says the proposed redevelopment will help “rejuvenate” the site by introducing residential uses to an area dominated by commercial and office buildings:

The redevelopment of this site as proposed presents a timely opportunity to rejuvenate the under-utilized, asphalt-covered site and transform it in the vision contemplated by the Comprehensive Plan for Tysons Urban Center with additional meaningful open space, the introduction of residential units to the quadrant, enhanced environmental features, critical multimodal transportation infrastructure, and a stepdown transition in density from the core of Tysons near Route 7 to the outer edges across Gallows Road. If this opportunity is missed because adjacent sites are not ready to redevelop, the Property will likely remain a sea of parking…for another 15-20 years, rather than serving as a catalyst and setting the stage for an exciting transformation of this quadrant.

PulteGroup, which is based in Atlanta, did not immediately return Tysons Reporter’s questions about the project, including its timeline. It’s the third largest homebuilder nationwide.

The Meridian Group, which owns the existing office building, says it has a contract with Pulte to sell part of the surface parking lot for the proposed development, but there are no immediate plans to get rid of the building.

“The developer plans are just designed to give them flexibility for the distant future,” a Meridian spokesperson told Tysons Reporter. “Perhaps in 20 years, they might want to demolish the building. But they have no plans to do so. The building will remain untouched and is not part of the rezoning.”

It isn’t yet clear when the project could go before the county planning commission. Upcoming meetings through July 28 didn’t list the application on board agendas, and the county’s online Land Development System showed no hearing information.

Nearby at Fairfax Square, the mall is seeking to upgrade signs. If PulteGroup’s proposal moves forward, the more than 5-acre residential complex would wrap around that shopping and dining center.

Photo via Google Maps

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McLean’s Chesterbrook Shopping Center has changed hands for the first time since the early 1980s.

After managing the property for almost two decades, Federal Realty Investment Trust has now acquired the 89,625 square-foot shopping center at 6244 Old Dominion Drive for $32.1 million, the real estate brokerage firm KLNB announced on Friday (May 7).

The entire transaction took less than four months to complete, according to a press release from KLNB, which represented the previous owner, Chesterbrook One LLC.

“Chesterbrook Center is well positioned for significant growth and perfectly aligns with our Northern Virginia strategy,” Barry Carty, Federal Realty’s senior vice president of East Coast acquisitions, said. “We were thrilled to work with KLNB on this sale and look forward to building on the previous owners’ decades of work to grow Chesterbrook into a destination center for the community.”

According to KLNB, the Chesterbrook Shopping Center had been owned by the same family since the early 1980s and has been anchored by Safeway since 1965.

Other tenants include Starbucks, Walgreens, Bank of America, BB&T Bank, Mylo’s Grill, New Star Asian Bistro, and the dog daycare and boarding facility Playful Pack, which officially opened yesterday (Monday).

Federal Realty has served as the center’s operations and leasing manager since 2002, which will allow for a “seamless transition” in ownership, Federal Realty Corporate Communications Manager Brenda Pomar says.

“With its close proximity to Tysons, Arlington and Washington D.C. along with the impactful amount of daily vehicular traffic on Old Dominion and the strong demographics surrounding the property, Federal is excited to explore opportunities for Chesterbrook,” Pomar said.

Old Dominion Drive gets about 18,000 vehicles per day, according to KLNB.

Federal Realty’s leasing brochure for Chesterbrook states that 137,751 people live within a three-mile radius of the shopping center, and the area’s median household income is $172,080.

The plans for the property going forward are not yet clear, but Federal Realty Vice President of Asset Management Deirdre Johnson says the acquisition supports the property manager’s overall strategy for Virginia, which is fueled by the area’s “strong job growth, desirable demographics, high barriers to entry, and business-friendly climate.”

Federal Realty’s other Tysons-area properties include Tysons Station, Pike 7 Plaza, and the Pan Am Shopping Center on Nutley Street in Vienna, along with Falls Plaza, Graham Park Plaza, and Idylwood Plaza in Falls Church.

Federal Realty sold a portion of Graham Park Plaza last year to the developer EYA, which is replacing the vacant retail space with townhouses. The company is also rebranding Falls Plaza as Birch & Broad as part of a renovation project that’s expected to finish later this year.

“Chesterbrook presents many opportunities to create a unique and special community destination,” Johnson said. “We are currently exploring options and look forward to announcing future plans.”

Photo courtesy KLNB

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Construction work on an extensive renovation of Falls Plaza Shopping Center will begin in mid-April, property owner Federal Realty Investment Trust announced yesterday (Wednesday).

The 144,000 square-foot shopping center at 1200 W. Broad Street in Falls Church will get a new look with overhauled building façades, new signage and decorative lighting, enhanced landscaping, and expanded outdoor seating areas.

As part of the renovation project, Falls Plaza will be rebranded as Birch & Broad to reflect its location at the intersection of Birch and Broad streets and “align with the Modern Farmhouse aesthetics featured in the renovation,” according to Federal Realty’s press release.

“This transformation underscores Federal’s long-term commitment to our properties, merchants, and the communities in which we operate,” Federal Realty Vice President of Development Jay Brinson said.  “The new public gathering spaces and expanding café seating areas combined with the new architecture and placemaking upgrades will make Birch and Broad a place that truly captures the essence of community, a quality for which the City of Falls Church is recognized.”

The renovation will also occur concurrently with an interior remodel of the Giant Food that anchors the shopping center.

According to Giant Food Director of Strategic Planning and Execution Gary Budd, the remodel will enable the grocery store to “significantly upgrade” its fresh and prepared food departments. Added offerings will include a new gourmet cheese case and a fresh pizza program.

The store’s layout and decor will also be revamped to make navigation simpler for shoppers.

“The remodeled Giant is an exciting step in our mission to continue to offer improvements and unique selections across the areas we serve,” Budd said.

Other existing retailers at Falls Plaza include Conte’s Bike Shop, CVS Pharmacy, Plaka Grill, Starbucks, Jersey Mike’s and Road Runner Sports.

Federal Realty anticipates that the shopping center renovation will be finished later this year, prior to the winter holiday season.

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The Falls Plaza Shopping Center in Falls Church is about to get a new look.

Property owner Federal Realty Investment Trust announced today (Thursday) that the 144,000 square-foot shopping center will undergo renovations intended to update its physical appearance and enhance amenities next year.

“Federal is a long-term holder of real estate and has been part of the Falls Church community for over 50 years,” Federal Realty Vice President of Asset Management Deirdre M. Johnson said. “The new amenities and conveniences coming to Falls Plaza…reflect the evolving needs of the community that we serve.”

Scheduled to start in the spring of 2021 and conclude prior to Thanksgiving, the redesign will include new building façades that fuse “a modern farmhouse design with industrial elements” as well as new decorative lighting and signage, according to a Federal Realty press release.

The project will also introduce parking spaces for curbside pick-ups, expand the sidewalks with outdoor dining and gathering space, augment the plaza’s landscaping, and add a fireplace.

Federal Realty first acquired ownership of Falls Plaza in 1967. Anchored by Giant Food, the center features a Staples, Conte’s Bike Shop, CVS Pharmacy, Starbucks, and a variety of other retail, dining, and services venues.

Most recently, Falls Plaza added the restaurants Plaka Grill, Tasty Dumplings, and Jersey Mike’s.

“We are appreciative of the continued support that both the city residents and officials have provided us over the past 50 years, and we look forward to the next 50,” Johnson said.

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