Updates from Letty – February 15, 2019

Blog posts are the personal views of Letty Hardi and not official statements or records on behalf of the Falls Church City Council 

Dear Friends,

As you head into the long weekend, lots of links are in this week’s post for you to peruse over the extra day off. We’ve got several exciting business openings coming up (hint: get your quarters ready) and scheduled dates for Founders Row’s groundbreaking and the first construction community meeting. Next week, we’ll start diving into the special exception application for the West Falls Church Economic Development project.

And finally, for property owners: if you haven’t seen the news yet, 2019 property assessments are now complete. That is a key input in the upcoming budget process that is underway, so read on to understand what that means for your tax bill.

Keep the good questions and feedback coming.


What Happened This Week:

(1) West Falls Church Economic Development Project

If you missed last week’s post, I wrote about amendments to the interim agreement on the 10 acre project. We approved the changes in our meeting this week. Negotiations and details will continue to be ironed out as we draft the comprehensive agreement, which is the final contract for the land transaction and deal, planned to be signed in May.

In parallel, we received the special exception entitlement (SEE) application, which includes the conceptual development plan which is similar to other development projects’ plans you may have reviewed. City Council will have our first look and discussion at  Tuesday’s work session before it is referred out to before boards and commissions review in March, with their input due back to City Council so we can make a final decision in May.

As a preview, you can review the staff report and actual submission (warning – it’s a large file and may take awhile to load). The SEE submission is meaty: it includes the layout of the site, proposed uses with min and max square footage ranges, massing diagrams with building height ranges, the ever popular shadow studies, and streetscape cross sections.

  • City Council Work Session on SEE Application: February 19, 2019
  • City Council First Hearing on SEE Application: February 25, 2019
  • Planning Commission: April 1, 2019
  • City Council Second Hearing: May 28, 2019

(2) New Business Openings & Projects In Progress

The bimonthly business and economic development bulletin is out – and we’ve got some exciting businesses opening up. A few highlights:

  • Get your quarters ready! Aldi grocery store is opening next Thursday Feb 21 at 155 Hillwood Ave.
  • Code Ninjas will be opening in the Lincoln at Tinner Hill project. Attention parents: enrollment already underway for their summer camps
  • The much anticipated Bakeshop at 100 E. Fairfax Street, across from The Falls Church is currently anticipated to open in February.
  • A new Italian restaurant, Thompson’s Italian, will open in the former Argia’s space. The owner/chef is a renowned executive chef at RPM Italian in Washington, D.C. and several other restaurants in New York City. The restaurant is expected to open in April/May.

aldi logo

Founders Row (as you recall – at over 4 acres, this is the largest mixed use project in the city to date – to include apartments, 6-8 screen dine in movie theater, office space, retail, and restaurants). Work will occur over the next 2+ years, with target completion in mid/late 2021.

  • Community Neighbor Meeting – the first of many during-construction community meetings will be Wednesday, February 27 at 8:30 am, meeting at the construction trailer, which is located adjacent the old 7-11.  These meetings will provide an opportunity for any neighbors to walk through work on the site, upcoming schedule, and address any concerns or questions. Meetings through 2021 have been scheduled.
  • While work has been underway at Founders Row for several weeks now, the official groundbreaking will be coming up on March 4th.

(3) FY20 Budget & 2019 Assessments

The 2019 property assessments are complete, and you can expect your assessment to arrive in the mail in late February. As a preview, overall assessed values increased 3.35% over 2018. New construction accounts for nearly 32% percent of the increase in assessed value in the City and market appreciation accounts for the remainder.

What does this mean for you and the city budget?

For you: your property tax bill is determined by two factors: your property’s assessed value, which is market-based, and the tax rate. With residential property values increasing by 3% on average this year, you can expect that your tax bill will increase as well, even if we hold the tax rate steady when we finalize the budget in April.

For the city budget: the city had forecasted revenue growth to be 2%, so while other sources of revenue like sales, business, and personal property taxes still have to round out the entire revenue picture, the 3.35% assessed value growth is good news (property taxes contribute the majority of our revenues), ie we’ll have more money in the budget. That said, as the city and school budget development continues over the next month, with uncertainty still on the horizon and an ambitious CIP – I prefer and expect we will stick with the 2% growth budget guidance we issued in December. If higher revenues come to fruition, we will discuss options for the excess revenues.


What’s Coming Up: