The City of Falls Church rolled out the initial stages of its Small Area Plan for city residents Saturday morning, as they discussed future and existing redevelopment plans for the North Washington street corridor that runs into the border of Falls Church and Arlington.
The meeting was organized by members of the city planning commission. Mayor Nader Baroukh and members of the City Council attended, as did members of the local development community. Local residents also shared their thoughts with the city's planning commission on transportation, and commercial and residential redevelopment likes and dislikes for that section of the city. A west entrance for the East Falls Church metro station, bike lanes, and more walkable pedestrian friendly streets and sidewalks were among the hot button topics.
The small area planning process will feature community meetings followed by a draft that is created and presented to both the city council and the general public at a public hearing, with consideration for the redrafting process and a final plan, which the city of Falls Church Economic Development Authority anticipates to span a total of six months.
A common theme discussed among residents was more access in general to existing and future metro stations, and also more public transportation, similar to the George bus system that was previously in place in Falls Church.
Discussions about future redevelopment occurred, presided over by the city’s Department of Public Works, as residents were broken up into small groups giving all of their thoughts regarding changes for the future of the North Washington Street corridor.
“Its about 30 acres of land, the land is worth more than the buildings and that is somewhat problematic,” said Rick Goff of the city’s Economic Development Authority. “Small area planning effort is particularly important because we need to update our future vision for our older commercial areas.”
The North Washington Street plan is the first of several small area planning processes that the city has in store for implementing more mixed use commercial development throughout the city. That won’t be easy considering the city’s small size and the mixture of interests from businesses and residential neighborhoods.
“This is really the kick off to a longer process,” Baroukh said. “We are really looking forward to, as a council, having these plans come forward so we can shape what the city is going to look like and really put us on the map and begin our development process.”
The city hopes to have a final plan created by the spring of 2012.