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Thursday, September 6, 2018

Unsolicited Bid to Redevelop the VT/UVA Falls Church Graduate Center Site



Rushmark Makes Unsolicited Bid to Redevelop UVa/VT Grad Center Site - Falls Church News-Press Online

CONCEPT RENDERINGS of the West Falls Church Economic Development Project by Rushmark (top) and EYA submitted along with their proposals to the City of Falls Church. (Images: Rushmark, EYA)
CORRECTION: According to WMATA, EYA “is not under contract to WMATA to re-design the West Falls Church Metro Station, nor is there a joint development agreement currently in place for this station.” The News-Press apologizes for the error.
In conjunction with its submittal of its final detailed proposal for the dense economic development of 10 acres at the West Falls Church high school campus, the Rushmark team that built the 300 W. Broad building (with its Harris Teeter) has made an unsolicited bid to redevelop the 7.4-acre Virginia Tech/University of Virginia graduate center site adjacent its 10-acre plan.
The news broke with the issuance of a press release from the F.C. City Hall Wednesday that announced the receipt on Aug. 29 of the detailed proposals from two groups, Rushmark and the team of EYA, Regency and PN Hoffman, for the development of the coveted 10 acre site. Near its end, the press release quietly noted that “Virginia Tech has announced
that it received an unsolicited proposal for the redevelopment of the Northern Virginia Academic Center and recently issued a request for competing proposals” as required by law.
That was included to support the releases’ statement that the 10-acre proposers should “thoughtfully integrate the 10 acre site with the planning for the new George Mason high school, as well as the UVa/VTech center and WMATA,” noting that “Fairfax County is currently considering an application by WMATA for a Comprehensive Plan amendment for the West Falls Church Metro station property.”
This integrated approach reference in the release, which came from the office of City Manager Wyatt Shields, is a new idea in the City’s public deliberations on the development of the 10-acre site.
It is clearly related to Rushmark’s overture to the Virginia Tech/UVa center (which UVa is currently in the process of opting out of in favor of development at the Inova campus on Gallows Road) and to the fact that EYA has made a submission to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a redesign of the West Falls Church Metro station, where WMATA controls 24 acres next to Falls Church’s 10 acres and the Virginia Tech site.
EYA, it has been learned, is also planning to make a redevelopment bid on the Virginia Tech campus site.
If developed in a combined, if uneven, way, the three contiguous sites could be a genuine regional powerhouse, sitting at a Metro station site with over 40 acres of redevelopment potential. “If it is not enough to attract Amazon, it may be for Apple, which like Amazon, wants to build a second headquarters in this area,” a knowledgeable Falls Church-based observer speculated.
The late-breaking stunning developments overshadowed the news in yesterday’s release about the detailed plans of the final two competitors for the City’s 10-acre parcel at the intersection of W. Broad and Haycock Road.
The development would proceed in 2021 following the completion of a new George Mason High School on the location of the present baseball and softball fields on the site, and and the subsequent demolition of the old school, making way for the economic development.
Shields will present summaries of the final two plans for the 10 acres at the F.C. City Council meeting this coming Monday night, and they have already been posted in full on the City’s website.
Three finalists were asked to submit proposals, and while Rushmark and EYA did, the third, Comstock, selected as a finalist in the conceptual phase this spring, declined to make a submission.
A committee has been assembled that will evaluate the two final proposals, and make a recommendation to the Council by sometime next month. A final lease or sale agreement for the land will occur by next May, prior to the City’s issuance of bonds to finance construction of the new high school, which will commence at that time.
Rushmark, in its executive summary, states that its goal would be to “combine the attributes that have made Falls Church an outstanding place to live — lifestyle, education, environment, and history — with the opportunities offered by the site’s proximity to multimodal transportation facilities and highly respected educational institutions.”
It proposes for putting on the 10 acres 1.4 million square feet of new uses, including 148,000 square feet of Class A retail space, a 153-room full service hotel, 151,200 square feet of Class A office space, 750 apartments of varying product types, and 120 well-equipped condominium homes. At its center would be a “vibrant, three-quarter gathering place located at the confluence of multiple walking routes and streets, and designed for year-round use,” with all parking underground and featuring a plaza and park including a spray park, an outdoor movie theater, and an ice skating rink in the winter.”
The executive summary of the EYA and friends’ plan characterized the development of the 10 acres as representing “a tremendous opportunity to expand the City’s existing reputation as a great place to live, work, and play by transforming into an 18-hour per day community…the redevelopment must strive to be more than just another ‘mixed use project,’ rather it must be transformational.”
It calls for 391,500 square feet of commercial office space, a hotel “designed in tandem with a civic space or music venue that can be used to host large meetings and events,” a grocery store and restaurant-anchored retail mix making up 10 percent of the total square footage, a senior housing building, about 245 condominiums, 288 multi-family apartments, nearly an acre of open space flexible to be programmed for a farmer’s market, movie nights, an open civic green and an outdoor concert venue and a shared central space parking garage.

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