FALLS CHURCH 2019 YEAR IN REVIEW
2019 has been a year full of story lines specific to, and relevant to, Falls Church, with the Amazon buzz continuing to steal the show. Amazon was not the only show in town, however. The year was also full of ground breakings, plan approvals, lease signings, and of course, a housing market for the record books. Here is a top level recap as we close out the year!
We all know Amazon’s HQ2 continues to dominate the headlines, including details about how it may or may not be already impacting the Northern Virginia real estate market. The year included more details about the HQ2 site plans, a job fair flooded with Amazon hopefuls, and additional commitments from Amazon to support affordable housing in the ongoing wake of their presence in the area.
The most visible change throughout all of Falls Church has been at the corner of West & Broad in The City of Falls Church, we have gone from the previous structures to a vacant landscape, to a huge hole in the ground, to what is now 3 cranes and a structure beginning to emerge from the depths. Progress has also included traffic delays, and W&OD changes along the way. Despite any hassles, the predominant public sentiment we have heard is enthusiasm for the project, which currently has a June 2021 completion date.
20 YEAR WHOLE FOODS LEASE
In late November news broke that Whole Foods had signed a 20 year lease for the site at E. Broad and 29, reviving public awareness for the dormant project, and igniting a debate over the new plans. That debate can now be taken to City Hall, however, as the signed lease is contingent upon final approval of the new plan by City of Falls Church planners, as well as City Council. Despite general enthusiasm, a widely unpopular aspect of the plan would be the sale of the parking lot attached to Clare & Dons and Thompson Italian, which would almost certainly threaten those businesses, particularly Clare and Dons, which relies heavily on outdoor seating.
LOW HOUSING INVENTORY LEAVES NEEDS UNMET
Significant reduction in housing inventory throughout greater Falls Church put pressure on home prices, as well as contract terms, and left many would be home buyers with their needs unmet. With these buyers already waiting in the starting gate for 2020, and a fresh batch of hopeful buyers sure to jump in as well, 2020 could get off to a quick start as they collectively scramble for the early options. Spring in February? Perhaps, but more on that next month in our look ahead to 2020.
I-66 EXPANSION IMPACTS COMMUTES & YARDS
The I-66 expansion has been changing the landscape into and through Falls Church for several months. More recently this has included the long overdue replacement of the deteriorating sound barrier that has been an eyesore us and our Falls Church neighbors with the walls in their back yards for decades. Whether or not the expanded lanes improve commute times, sneak peaks at the new sound barriers reveal what should be a much more attractive and durable solution.
STATE FUNDS APPROVED FOR W&OD EXPANSION
Late last year state funds were approved for the expansion of the section of the W&OD trail that runs through Falls Church City from a single trail to separate trails for pedestrians and cyclists. The funds spent 2019 idle as a final plan for the project was formed, but the planners have not been idle and final project approval could come as soon as January. Whether that impacts the fall 2020 delivery date initially promised is not known. NOTE: This is separate from the foot bridge going over 29, and from the bulk of the trail work at the Founders Row Site, though the plans have certainly impacted the Founders Row work.
The landscape of available attractions in Falls Church continued to shift and change in 2019, with more changes on the horizon. Here are a couple of new spots, and some coming soon’s.
• MR. BROWN’S PARK – “Pocket Park” next to Dogwood Tavern – Opened in the Spring of 2019, and took the Mr. Browns name with resounding public support.
• PLAKA GRILL – Falls Plaza Shopping Center – Relocated just recently to the space immediately adjacent to the Starbucks.
• badd pizza – Coming Soon – Immediately adjacent to the Starbucks at Broaddale. Replaces what had been a dry cleaners.
With notable openings come notable closings, although these were not correlated in any of these cases. It was sad to see these Falls Church mainstays close their doors…
• HOLE IN THE WALL BOOKS – 905 W. Broad. – Closed their doors after 40 years in The Little City.
• MAD FOX BREWING COMPANY – 444 W. Broad – While Mad Fox closed their doors after just 9 years they felt much more like a fixture than most restaurants would in that amount of time.
If there are key items we missed, but you feel should have been included please let us know!
Curious about the housing market through November? Stick around for our trademark Market Recap cards below!
MARKET RECAPS BY ZIP CODE