On the evening of June 21st, ULI members gathered to learn how West Broad Residences’ made a game changing mark on the City of Falls Church development process. Most notably examples of how a collaborative community method can produce outstanding results.
While this process involved over 30 rezoning, special exception and site plan meetings with the City Council, Boards, Commissions and Neighbors, the balance of input made substantial benefits for both public and private stakeholders.
A mutual understanding of the value of time and the potential impact of this project resulted in considerable contributions to the civic and economic vitality of the City of Falls Church. Considering approximately half of the population is within walking distance to the new Harris Teeter, the City comprehended improvements to the design and streetscape could dramatically activate the area.
West Broad Residences’ project totals 285 units, 267 market rate and 18 ADUs, with the 61K square feet dedicated to Harris Teeter and another 2,300K square feet for Cyclebar. The economic benefits of the deal include increased gross annual tax revenue to the City from $98,000 to $2.5 million and over $4 million in proceeds from the sale of the land. The project provides the City’s first new grocery store in three decades with retail adding approximately 200 new jobs to the area. In result of this development, the community received improvements to the public realm including 20-ft sidewalks, landscaped planters and bus stop as well as design features such as art walls. Many of the surrounding small business have benefited from the increased street activity as well.
This mixed-use project replaces three underutilized lots previously owned by three separate entities. Upon rezoning, the City purchased two of the lots and half the new property remains on a ground lease. Fair value for the land helped build trust into the negotiation process creating a platform for collaboration. Compromises were made, design changes had to be balanced and integrated into the building without disrupting parking, store footprint and mechanical systems required by Harris Teeter. Despite an in-depth engagement and public process, no one underestimated the effects of a successful project which allowed for negotiations and responsiveness throughout the course of development.
The building design evolved to address community concerns such as pedestrian and vehicular access, massing and scale, access to natural light and views, and blending with the existing context. All the while, the design and construction team considering impacts these changes will have on building materials and scheduling. These considerations resulted in long uninterrupted sidewalks for pedestrians and a building design that will serve as a catalyst for other downtown projects.
After a panel discussing the city, planning, design and construction perspectives of the project case study attendees gathered at the end of the panel to tour, network, eat and drink, and talk about the lessons learned from this project.