Mark your calendars now! September 2024, just over two years from now, will be the grand opening of the largest development, by far, in the town of Falls Church. The massive West Falls mixed-use project promises to be bigger and more successful than the recently completed Merrifield-based Mosaic a few miles away.
Robin Bettarel, the dynamic young executive in charge of development at Hoffman and Associates, told News-Press this week in an exclusive interview that although there is a huge amount of construction that has just started on the over 40 acres involved in the west end of the small town, the biggest challenge came last month when funding for the entire venture was secured.
It has not diminished the fact that construction cost and supply chain issues will continue to be challenges in the future, but there is huge optimism among all developers – Hoffman and Associates having joined EYA and Rushmark, and in conjunction with Hitt – responsible for stitching together three adjacent sites, the 10 acres of the City of Falls Church, another seven acres leased to Virginia Tech and more than 20 acres owned by WMATA at its West Falls Church Metrorail station for a homogeneous development of the 40 acres.
Last week, a groundbreaking ceremony laden with flags and balloons for the 10-acre Falls Church took place after a lengthy lease-signing process at FC Town Hall that wore the wrists of all parties. involved. He initiated this latest stage of construction in a process that dates back a decade when the City of FC acquired the land in a trade with Fairfax County which swapped ownership of the water system from the city for land and money, an agreement reached in November 2012. which was then approved by a public referendum.
This agreement followed years of contentious disputes between the city and Fairfax Water that arose when the county began directly competing with the city for water services in the county a few years earlier. Although contested by the much larger County of Fairfax, the small town of FC emerged from the negotiations with a veritable gold mine in hand which is now being developed by some of the most reputable large-scale developers. and the most experienced in the country.
Bettarel noted that the West Falls project, while comparable to Mosaic in terms of geographic size, should do considerably better overall due to its superior location, being at the intersection of a Metrorail station, the freeway I-66 Interstate and I-495. Device nearby.
She added that it would also have more of an “outward orientation” to the Church in the City of Falls and surrounding areas and praised the involvement of the citizens of the Church of Falls in moving the project forward by his commitment to the process from the beginning. “Community effort and impact” has played a major role in the success of the project so far, she noted.
Bettarel told News-Press that a dominant feature of the 10-acre FC project will be its “emphasis on well-being,” with up to 50% of a 150,000-square-foot office building on the road. 7 occupied by a major health care provider. It will be equidistant between two major existing wellness institutions, the operations of Inova and Virginia Hospital Center. Additionally, a 400-unit residential building will begin construction in the first phase.
The early stages of construction will see “lots of earthworks” as a base for parking what will be two major buildings that will mark the early stages of construction. “Lots of dirt haul trucks and bulldozers will be immediately active,” she said.
This will include clearing work ahead of the start of classes at the adjacent new Meridian High School along what has been dubbed Mustang Alley for being an access road to the site. This is the first project of this scale for which Bettarel is responsible, and she said she was very enthusiastic about it. Below her in the main roles are Caroline Crawford, Andrea Dudney and Charles Battle. She did not lose sight, she said, of the major role that women play as leaders in the effort. “Innovative development practices that put the community first preceded last week’s inauguration,” it was noted.
According to a statement from Hoffman, “The transit-oriented neighborhood will be pedestrian-friendly and offer bike lanes in addition to being conveniently located near the West Falls Church subway station as well as Leesburg Pike (Route 7) and of Route 66, both are key connectors. of the DMV region.
When complete, the neighborhood will serve as the gateway to the Church of the City of Falls, which is known for its vibrant culture, strong education system, vibrant local retail, commitment to sustainability, and community. welcoming. The project will include The Commons, an activated park in the center of the neighborhood that will provide nearly one acre of open space for community use as well as public art and activation, apartments, condominiums, senior residences, retail shops, a hotel, a medical office, and a cultural space. The sprawling project will include 1.2 million square feet of development on nearly 10 acres.
West Falls is the first component of a larger 40-acre community-oriented development of the area between Leesburg Pike (Route 7) and the West Falls Church subway station that aims to add to the bustling neighborhood with an active, walkable area . that promotes community, sustainability and innovation.
“The West Falls project will create a vibrant, walkable destination for the community and region, while generating the tax revenue needed to pay for the new Meridian High School next door. This is a win-win situation for our community and I congratulate everyone for taking this important step,” said David Tarter, Mayor of Falls Church.
Building connectivity in the community is at the heart of the project. The heart of West Falls will be The Commons, providing 4,000 square feet of outdoor community gathering space. This central gathering space will provide ample outdoor seating, flexible spaces with moveable furniture, fire pits and a fountain for children to play, while also serving as a welcoming space for seasonal community events and programming.
The residential component of the project comprises three buildings comprising apartments, condominiums and seniors residences, providing over 800,000 square feet of total residential space.
The 371,000 square foot mixed-income apartment building includes 400 apartment residences. The 174,000 square foot condominium includes 126 condominium residences. West Falls will also feature a 260,000 square foot, 215-unit, best-in-class seniors’ residence operated by a nationally recognized seniors’ residence operator to be developed by Trammell Crow
Company. The first phase of development will also include 125,000 square feet of medical office space, offering premier healthcare utilization, also developed by Trammell Crow Company.
Retail will also be a key focus for the neighborhood with 123,000 square feet of ground floor retail carefully curated with the community in mind. The offerings will include a nationally recognized 40,000 square foot grocer and a mix of national and local concepts, including personal care, fitness, shopping, dining and daycare.
Centrally located in the neighborhood, West Falls will also feature a modern 146-room hotel, Home2 Suites, a Hilton brand for extended stays offering spacious accommodations in a vibrant setting.
West Falls will be built by a group of best-in-class general contractors, custom-selected based on their areas of expertise and performance capabilities. Clark Construction will construct the project site works, a garage structure, two TCC panels and the condominium. Coakley Williams will build the hotel and Bozzuto Construction has been selected as the contractor for the apartments and a second garage.
Hoffman and Associates secured investments, secured two major loans, and signed a 99-year ground lease with the City of Falls Church for West Falls.
Through the multifaceted approach of Hoffman and Associates, the developer has raised debt and equity capital totaling nearly $400 million for apartments, condominiums, retail, hotel, public spaces and parking, including over $260 million in construction debt, over $107 million in equity. and other sources and over $24 million in government funding.
Mack Real Estate Credit Strategies provided $200 million in construction financing, and a subsidiary of Rockwood Capital made an equity investment, capitalizing nearly half of the development. This includes 123,000 square feet of retail space, as well as the 146-key hotel, an apartment building, 964 garage parking spaces and The Commons.
EagleBank served as the lender for a construction loan of over $60 million and Grosvenor, through its structured development finance business, provided financing for the ground floor retail condominium. .
Trammell Crow Company will develop and secure financing for the medical practice and seniors’ residences that are part of West Falls.