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Monday, November 5, 2018

Supervisors ease repurposing of vacant stores

The Annandale Kmart will close later this month. 
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a policy plan amendment Oct. 30 to make it easier to convert empty retail buildings for other uses.

The policy applies to commercial buildings, such as stores, gas stations, auto service centers, daycare centers, and low-rise banks.

Babies R Us on Columbia Pike in Bailey's Crossroads closed earlier this year., along with Toys R Us on Leesburg Pike.
Possible new uses include arts and cultural activities, healthcare facilities, schools, entertainment, small-scale production, and maker spaces.

The measure is an add-on to a Comprehensive Plan amendment approved last December to facilitate the repurposing of vacant or underutilized office buildings in activity centers by allowing those projects to be carried out without a specific site plan amendment. In May, the board expanded that policy to include office buildings in suburban areas.

There are plenty of opportunities to convert empty retail buildings in Mason District, including Kmart, which is closing this month, and the antiques center in Annandale; Toys R Us, Babies R Us, and H.H. Gregg (which has been used as a temporary Spirit Halloween store) in Bailey’s Crossroads; and Staples in Pinecrest Plaza. More are expected, as Sears and Best Buy are among the major retailers that are closing stores around the country.

The H.H. Gregg on Columbia Pike closed in spring 2017.
Many of the store closures are driven by the rise of e-commerce, which accounts for 9.8 percent of all retail sales nationally and is projected to reach 25 percent by 2021, Fairfax County reports.

Retail vacancy rates average 2 percent in Fairfax County, which is lower than the 4.6 percent rate nationally and 4 percent rate in the D.C. metropolitan region. Still, Fairfax County has about 719,000 square feet of empty retail space.

The areas with the most retail vacancies is Herndon (about 23 percent), followed by Lincolnia (18 percent), and South County (16 percent). Annandale, Bailey’s Crossroads, and Seven Corners have vacancy rates of less than 5 percent.

One in five neighborhood shopping centers in Fairfax County, which are often anchored by a grocery store, have one or more empty storefronts.

13 comments:

  1. Oh jeeze, that will surely give Penny Gross the opportunity to open up some additional homeless centers, welfare offices, social service centers and beds for the illegals. In ten years after the entire middle class flees Mason, all that will be left would be vacant stores/buildngs, surf and suds laundromats and burned down boarding house. What a future to contemplate. Without and enforcable comprehensive plan and new mass transit strategies, the district is doomed to become an inner beltway ghetto.

    Hold on folks its going to be bumpy ride.

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  2. I agree with Anonymou@906am, this is not good news. They need to bring in a Wegman's or a Publix in this location - a store like one of these would be a destination and help revitalize the area.

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  3. so half of mason district

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    1. Mason district has 4 anchor CBCs: Annandale, Lincolnia, 7 Corners, and Baileys Crossroads.

      Of those four, only 1 has high retail vacancy: Lincolnia.

      But of course, in troll logic, 1/4 = 1/2. My bad.

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  4. What's required is another retail outlet to replace Kmart. It's been very convenient to pop in there without having to mess with the traffic congestion associated with having to drive elsewhere. Annandale has enough ethnic restaurants and supermarkets. It no longer has a retail store and that situation needs to be remedied. - Sparky

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    1. We wouldnt have this problem if it wasn't for such a bad economy.

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  5. The K-mart needs to be razed and a much bigger project, maybe four or five levels with a parking garage needs to be built there. Mixed use with a retirement community and some retail on the ground floor. That whole property is a big waste of space, except for the food court and the small stores. You have to think highest and best use for the land. This place could be the new focal point of Annandale. It is now the biggest piece of viable property to develope for at least a good distance.

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    1. Oh, please. There's not enough room for something as big as that! Do you realize how much traffic one of those things would add to tiny little Columbia Pike and 236?

      Mosaic and Dunn Loring are just a stone's throw away, and "Scout" is under construction at Fairfax Circle as we speak. Do you really think we need *more* mixed-use developments in this area right now? At the rate these things are popping up, someone needs to be wise enough to put on the brakes before we create a glut.

      Annandale is a very small town. The K-Mart center needs a MAJOR retail make-over, but whatever comes next should be in proportion to its surroundings.

      --kda

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  6. KDA -
    For what it's worth, you should read the articles about the Lincolnia Planning District Task Force. The owner of the Landmark Plaza is highly motivated to turn Landmark Plaza into a mixed use development with a new street grid, first floor retail, public plazas, multi-family residential, and even perhaps a retirement home. I have been chair of the Task Force for nearly two years and the county is well on its way to approving a plan for Landmark that will vastly improve the neighborhood. It will be on par with Mosaic or Shirlington. Please read the Annandale Blog for earlier articles about the progress.

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    1. I appreciate your optimism but as long as Gross is around she will manage to screw it up somehow like she has with every development to date.

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  7. Another Shirlington or Mosaic would be great!

    There are, however, some considerations: size of the property, access to Metro, type of residential use proposed (apartment or condo) and the availability of quality retail and restaurants. A real retirement home, rather than a development that claims that one senior resident per unit is a bona fide retirement facility, would be a welcome addition.

    Let's keep our fingers crossed and thanks to the hardworking members of the Task force.

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  8. Anon 11/7/18 6:29
    Your attitude is unfortunate. The Task Force that I've helped lead was initiated by Supervisor Gross. Developments like Mosaic, Shirlington, 14th Street in Washington DC take years, even decades. I was working at a large architecture firm in 2004 when they were finishing up the masterplan for Mosiac. Now, almost 15 years later, it is still in construction. The Lincolnia deal involves not only Fairfax Planning and Zoning, but also Fairfax Department of Transportation, VDOT, etc. Additionally, it requires intricate coordination with Alexandria, a jurisdiction wrestling with a plan for the Landmark Mall Property. Please be patient. The process will have good results.

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    1. Glad your optimistic on whatever koolaid Gross has been serving you. Her record shows the antithesis of what you are trying to do. Perhaps with a new supervisor your plans may be realized. There have been no new retail centers or rehabs of the declining sub-urban commercial districts. Just big box stores leaving a trail of vacant stores that are either occupied by junk temporary retail and For Lease signs.

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