Flis said redevelopment should be seen in the context of future trends:
- The county population is expected to increase by 35 percent by 2030.
- People are more interested in seeing “authenticity and local brands” rather than national chains.
- Shoppers are turning away from malls and prefer to shop in an urban, pedestrian-friendly setting where there’s “a sense of experience” with outdoor cafes and entertainment.
Before the transportation amendment was adopted, the county’s comprehensive plan called for Little River Turnpike (Route 236) to be widened to six lanes, with the service roads retained, and an overpass at Ravensworth Road.
The new plan does away with the overpass and calls for Little River to be transformed into a “context-sensitive” six-lane boulevard with wide sidewalks and bike lanes instead of service roads. That means Little River would need to be expanded by about 11 feet on either side, Southworth says. He acknowledges the space is tight between Ravensworth Road and Backlick Road, which means some businesses might have to be relocated.
Not everyone favors that option. Vicki Burman, executive director of the Annandale Chamber, says some members of the community advisory committee that worked on transportation options believe widening 235 would be divisive and preferred an alternative plan rejected by the planning commission: making Little River, John Marr Drive, and McWhorter place one-way streets, which would direct traffic in a circular route through Annandale.
The plan also calls for extending Tom Davis to Poplar Street, which means some buildings might have to come down on Columbia Pike, such as the Annandale fire station or the building that houses Annandale Christian Community for Action (ACCA), which was the former site of Annandale Elementary School.
Typically, governmental approval for development is based on quantitative numbers on density, focusing on the number of units and square feet. The form-based approach does away with that, Flis says, allowing “significant flexibility for future growth in Annandale.”