East Falls Church Metro Area Redevelopment
Arlington County’s East Falls Church development Task Force has issued its preliminary Area Plan and is setting its sights high for an urban transformation. The Task Force was established by the Arlington County Board and was comprised of representatives of nearby civic associations and citizen commissions. It was developed in conjunction with the City of Falls Church, since the scope of the transportation analysis includes both jurisdictions.
Arlington has an impressive track record of targeted redevelopment—anyone who remembers what Clarendon looked like ten years ago, or Shirlington as recently as five years ago, can attest to that. Arlington is an innovator in the ‘urban village’ concept. East Falls Church, located along the border of Arlington County and the City of Falls Church, surrounds the EFC metro station. Metro’s new silver line through the Tysons area and out to Dulles Airport is slated to originate at EFC metro.
East Falls Church dates back to the 1700s when it was farms and woodlands. As trolley lines began to service the area it continued to develop throughout the 1800s. Though it had been part of the town of Falls Church in the late 1800s and early 1900s, East Falls Church petitioned to rejoin Arlington County in 1936, after which it became more of a suburban commuter town. Most homes in the area today were built in the 1930s through the 1950s.
In 1986 the East Falls Church metro opened. The area today is a mix of commercial and residential, with several bike trails crossing through the area, large parks, and recreational opportunities. Generally it consists of single family homes, though there are a few townhouse communities and condos such as the Westlee (completed in 2006) and Falls Station. The Crescent, a 214 unit rental complex, is slated to be completed by summer 2010.
The task force’s plan details a future East Falls Church as a mixed use, walkable community with a central gathering place. The vision is to return EFC to a “transit town” with neighborhood-oriented retail, businesses and restaurants with a warm and inviting streetscape. They envision street fairs, and public spaces along with affordable housing in a ‘green’ community.
Though developers have signed on for the projects just yet, the plan does lay out some interesting redevelopment and future housing opportunities:
• At Sycamore Street and Washington Blvd, the plan anticipates a townhouse style development
• On the current BB&T site, a 12 unit multi-family building is planned, perhaps with small neighborhood-serving retail or professional offices along the ground floor on Lee Highway
• On the current Exxon site, the plan envisions a mixed-use mid-rise (up to 5 stories) building, again with small retail or professional offices
• On the current SunTrust Site, townhouse development with either residential or office use.
• On the site of the largely unused parking lot behind the Verizon building, the plan lays out townhouse development with a pedestrian path through the entire site
To help create a walkable area and a mixed use community, certain retail and commercial plans have been laid out as well:
• Along Lee Highway at the intersection with Washington Boulevard, ground floor retail will be required
• On the current Oil Company Site (which includes the Petro Oil company, a veterinary hospital, and a mercedes repair shop and car lot), an 8 story development will be allowed to occur if it ncludes a community facility, a ‘bicycle track’ and a full service grocery store. Without these constraints, five stories are permitted.
• At Fairfax Drive and Little Falls Road, low density commercial development (2 to 4 stories) is encouraged.
• On the site of the Le Cote d’Or restaurant and the Econo Lodge, the ideal development is up to 6 stories, includes open space adjacent to the Crescent, and ground floor retail including cafe seating.
The area is certainly destined to change in the coming years and with expanded metro service now imminent, the area will be transformed.
Update 7/13/10: The plan is moving forward, as reported in ArlNOW’s excellent summary of the Board meeting.
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