|Unique and CubeSmart to be redeveloped.|
The 138,000-square foot property acquired by RPI includes the part of the shopping center occupied by the Unique thrift store and CubeSmart Self Storage (the old Levitz Furniture building). The previous owner is listed as Fairfax Plaza LLC.
RPAI plans to develop a mixed-use project on that site, which it says will be “integrated with Merrifield I and serve as a complement to the adjacent Mosaic District.” Merrifield I, which RPAI purchased in January 2015 for $56.5 million, consists of the two mixed use residential/retail buildings on Gallows Road on either side of Strawberry Lane.
What will most likely be built on the site are apartments with ground floor retail and a plaza or other open space, says Mike Wing, the land specialist in Providence Supervisor Linda Smyth’s office.
“Though we have not finalized the redevelopment plan for Merrifield II,” RPAI CEO Shane Garrison said, “the compelling demographics, adjacency, trade area, and structure of existing leases provides us the opportunity to leverage our robust, local operating platform and knowledge to redevelop and densify the property over the next several years.” RPAI, a real estate investment trust based in Oak Brook, Ill., owns 201 shopping centers.
The rest of Fairfax Plaza, the part occupied by Great Wall Supermarket, Gold’s Gym, Five Guys, and other stores, is owned by Edens, which also owns the bulk of the Mosaic District.
The Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan envisions mixed use development and transportation improvements on the Fairfax Plaza site as part of a broad plan for revitalizing Merrifield. Eventually, the whole site will become part of the Mosaic District.
The Comprehensive Plan won’t need to be amended, but Edens and RPAI would have to coordinate development plans and submit rezoning applications, which would take “many months” to review, Wing says. Nothing has been submitted to the county yet.
The plan calls for a new road cutting through the site where Five Guys is located that would connect District Avenue in the Mosaic District to Gallows Road at the existing traffic light. Another new street would run parallel to Gallows Road connecting to Strawberry Lane.
More development is also planned in the Mosaic District next to the Angelika Film Center and townhouses. That spot has already been rezoned, allowing multifamily housing with ground-floor retail. It won’t happen right away, as “developers don’t want to depress the market with too much coming on line at once,” Wing says.
Additional mixed-use redevelopment is also projected for Merilee Drive on the other side of Lee Highway on the site of the Alliance Center office condos. According to Wing, Merrifield (including Inova and Fairview Park) is the third-largest employment center in Fairfax County, after Tysons and Dulles.