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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Annandale's challenge: Renovate a building vs. large-scale redevelopment

An illustration of Hanna Plaza after the building is renovated.
Jeffrey Levine, of Levine Design Studio, gave a presentation on plans for renovating the building at 7409 Little River Turnpike at a meeting of the Annandale Central Business District Planning Committee (ACBDPC) July 8.

What started out as simple update on a by-right project, however, turned into a lengthy discussion on the future of Annandale.

7409 Little River Turnpike in May 2014.
The plans for what will be known as Hanna Plaza include a new façade, two-story foyer, a small water feature on the second-story open courtyard, a new rear entrance, and various other improvements. Levine says the design will fit in with the character of the new buildings on Little River, such as TD Bank.

The 25,500 square foot building is virtually empty. Its main tenants had been Title Max, which moved into the building vacated by Jerry’s Subs and Pizza, and a laundry.

Several members of the ACBDPC called the proposed renovation shortsighted and said this project could be a good opportunity for consolidating land to develop a larger, mixed-use project.

ACBCPC Chair Greg McGillicuddy suggested the property owner try to work with other landowners nearby to assemble properties occupied by the VCA Animal Hospital and Shell station on either side of the building and a Chinese restaurant and grocery store behind it. The Annandale section of the Comprehensive Plan would permit a building as tall as six stories in that spot under certain conditions.

The proposed design for the second-story courtyard.
The challenge of consolidating small parcels of land has been the biggest obstacle to redevelopment in Annandale. The ACBCPC has been promoting the idea of land consolidation but hasn’t been making much headway among property owners. Meanwhile, new construction and renovation projects that have occurred have been limited and have served as further impediments to consolidation. 

“This isn’t improving Annandale,” ACBDPC member Vicki Burnam, executive director of the Annandale Chamber of Commerce, said of the Hanna Plaza project. “It’s not the best use of the property.”

Hyojung Garland of the Fairfax County Office of Community Revitalization said the county wants to see bigger projects rather than patchwork improvements. McGillicuddy agreed to work with the county to reach out to the other property owners and urge them to consider consolidation. Neither the ACBDPC nor the county can prohibit a by-right project.

Levine said the building’s owner, who prefers to remain anonymous, might be willing to consider consolidation if there’s a reasonable chance that it could happen, but will start renovations as soon as possible. The lack of the required number of parking spaces at Hanna Plaza could lead to delays, he acknowledged. The owner is exploring various options for sharing parking with other nearby businesses.

Even if the project proceeds as planned, Levine said, it would improve the Little River Turnpike streetscape and could spur other redevelopment projects.

The courtyard as it appears now.


  1. Butt out! Property rights!

  2. I love the concept design. The whole area needs some creative design to attract people centered business. I hope the owner continues with his plan.

  3. In news from the other end of Mason District, the state has promised to fund half of Pike Rail - see the news story on ArlNow. Looks like the support Bulova and Gross gave to TMac is paying off, and we will be seeing real transformation soon.

  4. So the owner just wants to do a facelift, yet ABDCPC wants the owner to buy other properties and combine them to make a giant 8 story building!? There is no parking there now, pretty sure the post office was there years ago. Annandale is the new projects.

  5. The ABDCPC should not be having the owner work towards consolidating. If ABDCPC is interested in consolidating they should reach out to the owners themselves. I think it is great that the owner wants to upgrade the building. At Anonymous at 7/11 12:58 so I assume you work for either Bulova or Gross.