|Apartment building planned for this site.|
Both projects are being developed by J. Webb Properties, the Annandale-based company that owns the land at both sites.
For the bowling alley site, “we’re looking at something that would add to the streetscape and be a class A or class B-type multifamily project,” said John Formello, president of the Webb company. “We know it’s in part of the county looking for growth, so we hope the county will be amenable.”
Plans are sketchy, but he expects the project will have 250 to 300 rental units. It could range anywhere from four stories to a highrise with 10 or 12. “We’re still in the process of trying to figure out what works best on that site,” he said. The Annandale revitalization plan approved in 2010 as an amendment to Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan allows projects with higher density than normally allowed if developers add certain amenities.
The building might include some retail space—possibly a restaurant—on the first floor, “but it wouldn’t be the kind of mixed-use development some people are talking about where the entire first floor would be retail,” Formello said. “There is plenty of retail across the street and parking would be limited.” The project would probably include a parking structure, but he is not sure if it would be above ground or below ground.
Formello optimistically predicts an 18 to 24-month timetable to get through the planning, rezoning, and permitting processes before construction could start.
Old plans revived
Webb had the bowling alley property under contract a few years ago calling for another developer to build a mixed-use project, but that sale fell through when the real estate market collapsed in 2008. At that time, the property, just under four acres, was rezoned to accommodate a mixed-use development with retail and office use and a small number of residential units. This time, Webb will do the redeveloping itself.
“I think it will be a very attractive building that maybe can kickstart some growth in the Annandale area,” Formello said. “That area is due for some improvements and revitalization.”
He expects the building will have a contemporary design, with apartments marketed to the middle and upper-middle-class renter. Units would probably be on the small size—900 to 1,000 square feet—with the majority of them one-bedroom units, although there might some studios and two-bedrooms. He expects the building will attract “people who want to be close to Tysons but don’t want to pay Tysons prices.”
“It would be a step above some of the apartments there now. We think there is a market for that in Annandale,” he said.
The company would like to see the bowling alley continue to operate in that space until construction starts. “We want to keep them there as long as it makes sense,” Formello said. It would be up to the bowling alley’s parent company, AMF to decide whether to relocate in Annandale. AMF has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and the company approved a restructuring plan with its creditors in November, so it’s possible the bowling alley will close anyway.
J. Webb Properties is a privately held company founded in 1982 by John Webb and was later operated by his son, Michael Webb. After Mike Webb died in 2011, Formello, his son-in-law, was named president.
Webb also owns several other properties in Annandale. The company is the lead partner in a group that owns the Little River Shopping Center with the Safeway, owns the land occupied by the Parliaments housing development, and owns the Heritage shopping center with the H Mart grocery store.
Renovation of the storefronts at the Heritage shopping center is nearly complete. A new apartment building is proposed for the three-and-a-half acre-site at the back of the property on Rectory Lane, which is occupied by a gas station and a 7-11. Currently zoned for community retail, it would have to be rezoned for multifamily housing.
Heritage project proposed
That building would most likely be four stories and would have 200 to 250 units, probably aimed at middle or upper-middle class households, Formello said. That project would be residential only, since it’s adjacent to a retail center. “There haven’t been any new apartments in Annandale for 40 or 50 years. We think a new apartment building there, given its location, could do really well,” he said. Both that project and the bowling alley redevelopment would proceed at the same time.
Formello hasn’t yet formally presented his plans to the Annandale revitalization committee, Chamber of Commerce, community groups, or county officials, although he did have a discussion on the Heritage project with Braddock Supervisor John Cook. He acknowledged there could be a lengthy community outreach process, and there would likely be lots of discussion about the impact on school overcrowding, traffic congestion, and other issues, but doesn’t foresee any many obstacles.
“We have a very favorable market for multifamily now,” he said. “We have a favorable interest rate environment and positive economic factors we feel can drive this development.” Also, he noted, all it could take is one big new project to spur more reinvestment in central Annandale.