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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