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Fairfax Circle May Soon Get a Makeover

Designs are in the works to rebuild the shopping center into a large mixed residential and retail development.

Artist's renderings of proposed new apartments within a mixed residential and retail development at Fairfax Circle.
Artist's renderings of proposed new apartments within a mixed residential and retail development at Fairfax Circle.
The owners of Fairfax Circle are looking to completely rebuild the shopping area and make it into a modern and contemporary mix of apartments, retail and restaurants.

Lawyers representing Combined Properties joined the Mayor and City Council for a work session on Tuesday evening to look over the latest draft of designs for the proposed development, which have been in the works for about 18 months.

The proposed new development would include 400 apartments of varying sizes, and around 88,000 square feet of commercial space, which would include a huge, 54,000-square-foot grocery store, and around 34,000 square feet of mixed retail stores and restaurants. The development would also feature structured parking.

Lawyers for Combined Properties said the idea is to transform the roughly 9-acre shopping area—of which around 8 acres is inside City limits, and 1 acre in the Mantua area of Fairfax County—into a "walkable great street."

Artist renderings were shown during the presentation. 

Mayor Scott Silverthorne said he welcomes the chance to revive the "tired" shopping center.

"This development is long overdue," he said. "That center is a very tired shopping center. It's been around a long time."

To those who say they worry that a new development that includes such a large grocery store will significantly increase traffic, Silverthorne pointed out that, many years ago, the shopping center used to feature the largest movie theater in Northern Virginia as well as a Safeway grocery store, so the idea is not unheard of.

Councilmember Ellie Schmidt theorized that perhaps the reason the Safeway grocery store left the shopping center years ago is because there was not sufficient parking for it, so she also encouraged the developers to ensure the new development keeps that in mind.

Silverthorne also said he thinks a modern new development will help keep residents in the area and improve their quality of living, and that he appreciates it has features for all ages, including senior citizens.

"I think this development is moving in the right direction," he said, adding that he appreciates the hard work and responsiveness of the developers as they work on the design plans.

"This is an exciting opportunity and I think it will really drive things along the Boulevard," said Councilmember Jeff Greenfield, though he also encouraged the developers to explore ways to fit more parking into the development, as he expects the grocery store in particular will attract a lot of shoppers from both the County and City, as there is not another big grocery store for miles along the Boulevard.

Councilmember Dan Drummond encouraged the developers to keep pedestrian-friendly concepts in mind, as well as consider setting aside some of the 400 units as affordable housing units.

Both Councilmembers Steve Strombres and Dan Drummond said they would prefer to see a nod toward the City's history in the architectural design and public art features of the development.

The developers said they are in talks with Harris Teeter to potentially be the large grocery store within the development.

Combined Properties and the City of Fairfax will continue to work on the designs.

What do you think of the idea of this new shopping area? Tell us in the comments.


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hasty krippendorff December 14, 2013 at 10:18 AM
Jennifer, how do we get a link to be a clickable one here? When I do a copy & paste of links elsewhere, they are always clickable. (I know it's possible to copy & paste the link to the web browser, but some don't have the time or inclination to do so.) Thank you.
Rich Williams December 14, 2013 at 12:53 PM
Take away the fancy supermarket, and this whole plan just looks like an overbuilt, and cheap-looking apartment building. Looks like a carbon-copy of the quickly-built, cheap wood-framed apartment buildings along Monument Drive or Gallows Road, etc. Essentially nothing unique that differentiates it from the junk that Fairfax County gets. And I should point out that having the developer "in talks" with Harris-Teeter is far from a final deal: the talks could easily fall through and then we don't even get the fancy supermarket that the developers are dangling out there to get approval (an old developer trick). Overall, seems like not much benefit to the city here. Why not just improve the existing shopping center like the shopping center where Elevation Burger is now? We got better stores & restaurants, without the hassles of 400 apartments.
Jennifer van der Kleut December 14, 2013 at 02:20 PM
Hasty - sorry, it's not possible to put a clickable link in the comments section...
Kate Schwarz December 14, 2013 at 02:57 PM
I have to wonder if anyone here who has stated that this area is not bike- or pedestrian-friendly has ever bothered to bike or walk in this area, as I have done extensively for nearly 3 decades. Old Lee Highway is a designated bike route, there is a lovely paved trail that runs parallel to FFX Blvd (part of the Cross County trail), Old Pickett is easily biked, walked, and there are numerous Metro and Cue bus stops on all 3 of these roads. FFX Blvd has a 3rd lane westbound that is perfect for bicycling.
Becky S. December 15, 2013 at 04:09 PM
@ Rich Williams -- agreed. The City has done that in the past (with Old Towne Village) stating it was "in talks" with numerous large retailers in order to lure others in, but none of it was true. Harris Teeter left the City once already, why would they come back in? Furthermore, I'd like an iron-clad guarantee that this is not another "pubic-private partnership" and that NO taxpayers dollars will be used in any way shape or form for this project. Additionally the City must require the developers to include the necessary infrastructure improvements (roads and sufficient parking among other things) to accommodate the project at their expense. And, then this might be worth looking at. Unfortunately, the City has a tendency to become starry-eyed at the thought of all the new "tax revenues" it might (or might not) get with new development and overlook the negative impacts on the current community. I concur, that remodeling/updating/rebuilding of aging properties is a good idea but it must done by the private sector and not driven by government nor funded with any taxpayer dollars.

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