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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Federal Realty plans to bring apartments to Graham Park Plaza

The plan for revitalizing Graham Park Plaza. Arlington Boulevard is across the top. The white box at the bottom right is Giant.
The Mason District Land Use Committee tentatively endorsed a comprehensive plan amendment Sept. 27 to facilitate the redevelopment of Graham Park Plaza, pending a favorable report by Fairfax County planning staff.

Federal Realty Investment Trust, the owner of the shopping center on Arlington Boulevard (formerly known as Loehmann’s Plaza) wants to demolish the western half of the property and build a mixed-use project consisting of a seven-story building with 250 apartment units and retail on the first floor.

Bernard Suchicital, a planner with the Fairfax County Department of Planning Zoning, told the MDLUC “we’re not opposed to a change of use” for the property. He said the planning staff would like to see the project retain community-serving retail, be compatible with the surrounding residential neighborhood, be of appropriate scale, and be accessible to pedestrians.

A staff report on the project is scheduled to be published Oct. 6. The Fairfax County Planning Commission hearing on the plan amendment is set for Oct. 20, and a Board of Supervisors hearing would be Dec. 6. The Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors would then hold hearings on rezoning in 2017.

The project could generate anywhere from 19 to 64 school-age children, Suchicital said, depending on its actual design. If it were built within five years, it would not have a negative impact on the elementary school serving that area, as Westlawn is under capacity. But it would lead to overcrowding at Luther Jackson Middle School and Falls Church High School.

An analysis by the Fairfax County Department of Transportation found the new development would generate a small increase in vehicle trips in the morning and a small decrease in afternoon trips.

David Gill, an attorney with McGuire Woods who is representing Federal Realty, told the MDLUC the company wants to redevelop Graham Park Plaza because “there are number of challenges at that site.”

Stein Mart, which moved into the spot that became vacant when Loehmann’s went bankrupt, wants to move to a more profitable location, he said. LA Fitness closed over a year ago, and the Bova furniture store and CVS are not expected to renew their leases.

The 1960s-era shopping center is obsolete, as it is centered on the automobile and is not welcoming to pedestrians, said Allison Williams, development manager at Federal Realty. The retail spaces are too deep and have low ceilings, which makes them hard to lease.

Giant has a long-term lease – it doesn’t expire until the 2060s – and controls about a third of the property, so that area won’t be developed. Williams said.

Federal Realty would eliminate about 60,000-80,000 square feet of retail. The apartments would range from studios to units with two bedrooms plus a den. The plans call for a parking garage and a gather space that Williams calls an “outdoor living room” with benches, art, and landscaping; and an active, pedestrian-friendly environment.

At the MDLUC meeting, several nearby residents brought up concerns about traffic congestion on Graham Road and the service road along Arlington Boulevard. More details about access, the project design, and other issues will be addressed during the rezoning process.

15 comments:

  1. as long as they don't touch celebrity delly. love that place.

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    1. They do want to keep it.

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    2. The deli is a MUST SAVE.

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  2. Seems like good use of the space. Should add bike lockers & bike lanes too. There's a glut of retail in the area as many shop online. Too bad there's little affordable housing but presumably there will be some section 8 apartments in the new building. Love the "outdoor living room" concept.

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  3. Federal Realty is the same group that manages the Harris Teeter shopping center at Lincolnia and Columbia Pike. They seem to have trouble keeping the retailed space filled and it sits vacant . How will they attract and keep the retail filled at this development?

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  4. I think the idea of redevelopment is great but who are we fooling. Only 19 to 64 school age children with 250 apartments in the Mason District. Only a small increase of traffic in morning and a decrease in the afternoon. I am not drinking the Kool-Aid.

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  5. Bye-bye Bollywood. :(

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  6. More traffic on Route 50; when will it stop?

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  7. How many people who can afford a newly constructed apartment are willing to live with kids in an apartment, in that area (City of Falls Church with better schools is different).

    As for afternoon traffic, I guess its residential vs retail. Someday though the bus service should be improved.

    Pam B - WABA has proposed a bike trail (much of which would involve simply linking up existing service lanes) for Rte 50.

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    1. Riding a bike on Rt. 50, even with a bike lane, is essentially risking your life. Fairfax County is asinine in suggesting that it can paint a bike lane on high volume secondary roads and all is safe and good. The suggestion for a bike lane on Little River is even more egregious; it is essentially a highway in spots.

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  8. Get rid of those rental townhouses across the street

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  9. What will they do about the already terrible traffic problem accessing Rt. 50? They have to build a ramp or something.

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  10. This shopping center has been declining for years and that it is time to refresh the location with modern structures. Opposing this development simply because of the traffic situation on 50 is silly to say the least. Are we saying that since other people drive through our neighborhood, therefore we should have a dilapidated shopping center so that these other people can drive through our neighborhood a little bit faster and give them one less reason to stop by? How many of us want to live near a blight area? I certainly don't.
    Also, while we're at it, I think that it is quite disappointing that the county isn't encouraging the redevelopment of Monticello Garden along with this project. This part of Fairfax Co looks like its stuck in the 60s. Redevelopment is long overdue.

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    1. Please. Come on over to Bailey's Crossroads and Seven Corners. Monticello Gardens has five star accommodations in comparison to Olde Salem Village.

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  11. Loehmann's Plaza was was built around 1968 and 1970 in two phases. Federal Realty needs to start from scratch and tear down the oldest buildings from the first phase which are the ones closest to the Giant Food. I like what they are trying to do to revive the shopping center, but unfortunately, a lot of inherent problems with the layout and traffic patterns do not get resolved. It will make a lot of money for them but still tricky to get in and out of the property during the rush hours.

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