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Monday, July 8, 2013

Central plaza proposed as a 'quick fix' to encourage Annandale redevelopment

Annandale banners designed by students at Westwood College.
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of interest in a major redevelopment project in Annandale, at least for the time being, so Jeffrey Levine, an architect/urban planner with Levine Design Studio, came up with an idea for creating a town center plaza in the heart of Annandale using “urban design quick fixes.”

Levine believes this effort could be a catalyst for future redevelopment.

Tollhouse Park

According to Levine, the historical center of Annandale would be the natural place for a town center, so he chose the intersection of Little River Turnpike, chartered by the Virginia General Assembly in 1796;  Columbia Pike, a turnpike approved by an Act of Congress in 1810; and Annandale Road.

The proposal calls for a visually defined circle at that intersection identified by a colored surface on the road, minor modifications to Tollhouse Park, more trees, additional benches, banners, and public art. The project is described in further detail in the July issue of Endeavor, the magazine published by the Annandale Chamber of Commerce.

No buildings would be demolished, but the facades of new buildings would be designed to reinforce the curve of the plaza. Traffic patterns wouldn’t be changed either, but the project calls for improved crosswalks and better coordinated traffic lights.

Levine presented the idea to students in the School of Design at Westwood College in Annandale, and they worked on the visual concept and marketing as a class project.

“This is just an idea. “We’re just trying to elicit reactions from people. We’re giving people something to think about,” Levine said.

The proposed town plaza.
In 2011, Levine chaired an effort launched by the Annandale Chamber of Commerce, to create the “Annandale Demonstration Project,” a prototype of a potential mixed-use development on Little River Turnpike. That project was aimed at encouraging redevelopment by showing what could be accomplished if small landowners consolidate their properties to provide a big enough lot for a large project combining housing and retail.

In 2012, Levine proposed “Annandale Arbors,” an effort to spruce up the Annandale streetscape and make it more inviting for pedestrians.

“Now Annandale is just a place you go through,” Levine said.  Creating a central plaza could better position the community for development while emphasizing Annandale’s historic context, he said.


  1. A critical element to encourage pedestrians is to have some place you can park your car to then walk elsewhere. As long as all parking is for that business only with towing at will, there will be no walking in Annandale.

    Very few people live within walking distance of this area and the limited bus service won't provide an alternative to driving, either.

  2. Take the one bottleneck intersection in Annandale, add more proposed foot traffic, Sprinkle zero parts added parking... You get - no benefit! This Levine guy should not be in charge of anything. C'mon, arbors? Let's just stop asking this guy for our help. Tollhouse Park is useless and will continue to be useless. The idea of a 'town center' is fine, but the best place to put it is near the post office/Giant/Kmart/antique mall. Tear all of that down and build restaurants, offices, condos and parking garages.

  3. Do large businesses (like Kmart of Safeway) in Annandale regularly tow a cars that have been there for only a few hours (surely you aren't going to be walking around for over 12 hours)?

    Really, if we want a more walkable Annandale, we do not want more parking lots (maybe a garage, better not to over do that). Bus service should be improved. And lots of Annandale residents do live within walking distance of central Annandale (its just the walking conditions are so awful now). And don't forget biking as an alternative.

  4. No buildings would be torn down. This is not building a town center in the Reston Town Center sense - its simply making the heart of Annandale more attractive and a bit more pedestrian friendly. There's no need for more parking for that.

    The level of autocentrism, of driver entitlement, is huge here. It will only lead to further decline in Annandale.