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Monday, July 1, 2013

Seven Corners Task Force puts together outline for redevelopment

Seven Corners Task Force members during the charrette.
Seven Corners could be vastly improved with a town center on the site of the Willston shopping centers and Willston Multicultural Center along Route 50. That’s one of the key outcomes from a marathon “charrette” session held by the Seven Corners Land Use and Transportation Task Force.

The Seven Corners task force has been meeting monthly over the past few months, studying development possibilities for the Seven Corners area and hearing presentations from Fairfax County staff and other experts on the area’s demographics, real estate, transportation, economic conditions, recreational resources, and quality of life issues.

Task force members spent the afternoon and evening of June 27 in a charrette, an intense planning session involving multiple stakeholders, in an attempt to put everything together from those previous sessions. The task force was split into three groups, with each one concentrating on what type of development would work in a specific sub-area of the Seven Corners revitalization district.

Heading westbound on Leesburg Pike in Seven Corners.
The group that worked on the Willston area, bordered by Route 50, the City of Falls Church, and Arlington County, recommended replacing the current commercial development with a town center to include a plaza, civic center, performing arts center, some retail, small “pocket parks,” and plenty of public art. They suggested mixed-use buildings with up to six stories that combine multifamily housing, offices, and retail.

They also proposed an overpass over Route 50 and a traffic circle. And they suggested a new  regional park be established, with athletic fields, that would be connected to Upton Hill Regional Park in Arlington.

When that plan was presented to the whole task force, several people said the area needs to have a larger population base, including people with higher incomes, to support additional retail.

Joanne Fiebe, a planner with the Fairfax County Office of Community Revitalization (OCR), said there would be room for a new elementary school in that area, although the task force didn’t spend much time discussing schools during the charrette. All the other elementary schools in the vicinity are either overcrowded or are projected to be over capacity in a few years.

The group looking at the area occupied by the Seven Corners shopping center, between Routes 50 and 7, called for mixed-used buildings with retail at street level and residential units on the upper floors. Townhouses, for sale not rent, could be part of the mix. They suggested an office tower would work on the spot closest to the intersection of routes 7 and 50, although it isn’t financially feasible now. That group also suggested getting rid of the service lanes on Route 7 and putting a streetcar line along the middle lane.

The third group looked at the land on the other side of Route 7—currently occupied by Sears and several office buildings. They suggested five or six-story buildings closest to Route 7 with three-story townhouses behind them, and a park between Sears and the existing single-family houses.

“This could end up being even better than Merrifield. If the town center happens, it will transform the whole area,” said task force co-chair John Thillman.

Task force member David Corini, vice president of investments at Regency Centers, which owns the Willston I and II shopping centers, said he is open to the idea of developing a town center.

The OCR staff will refine the proposals developed in the charrette and present a report at the task force’s September meeting for further review. The next meeting of the task force, scheduled for July 11, will focus on transportation.


  1. Zzzzz, boring! Mixed use/town centers are getting to be a little overdone in NOVA.
    The school is a great idea since it is so desperately needed.
    Improving the existing medical arts buildings would be great -- so very convenient to have doctors, dentists, physical therapy nearby.
    Not seeing how adding so much residential really improves or benefits 7 Corners since traffic is an utter nightmare as it stands.

  2. Traffic is the biggest problem. I avoid Seven Corners unless I have to go through there. Remove the through traffic and leave the local roads to service the local businesses.

    I would like to see an underpass on Route 7. A tunnel from Koons Nissan (Rt. 7 & Roosevelt) to the Sears (Rt. 7 & Juniper Lane) would remove most of the the through trafffic. City of Falls Church would probably oppose since it would make it easier for outsiders to enter their fair city.

    Also, would be good if Rt. 50 could be widened to three lanes all the way from Graham Rd. to Seven Corners intersection.

  3. "Zzzzz, boring! Mixed use/town centers are getting to be a little overdone in NOVA."

    while single use shopping centers and office parks are what, scarce? Whats the ratio of mixed use to single use developments in NoVa - like 1 to 1000?

    guess what - mixed use, walkable developments support each other.