Updates from Letty – March 1, 2024

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,

Happy first day of Women’s History Month! For a quick dose of history, check out the archives from the Women’s History Walk that honors courageous and altruistic women whose civic engagement and dedication to Falls Church can inspire all of us to keep working to make our community better. Speaking of walks – with spring around the corner, you have two weeks left to register for the Mayors’ Fitness Challenge, which has been a friendly competition between Falls Church, Vienna, and Fairfax. (Note that the minutes logging will be easier this year.) To help us win back the trophy, in lieu of my coffeeshop office hours, I’ll be holding walking office hours – get your minutes in and come chat with me at the same time! Save these dates for Walk and Talks:

  • Friday, March 22 at 9 am (meet at Big Chimneys Park)
  • Friday, April 12 at 12 pm (meet at Howard Herman Trail)
  • Friday, May 10 at 9 am (meet at Cherry Hill Park)

This week, I’ll share my thoughts about the Quinn/Homestretch project we approved, the Greening of Lincoln community meeting, and my meet and greet with the West Broad neighbors. Look forward to hearing from you about these topics and more.


PS – for those of you who aren’t on the Falls Church Forward list, our quarterly meeting is this Sunday, March 3 at 4 pm at Viget (105 W. Broad, 4th floor) to learn about zoning, housing, history and more. See you there!

What Happened This Week:

(1) Quinn/Homestretch Project

On Monday, we approved the Quinn/Homestretch senior living, mixed use project on S. Maple and S. Washington by a 5-2 vote. There are more details in the staff report and the project viewbook but in summary, it will bring:

  • 233 senior living units with a continuum of care: 145 independent living units, 56 assisted living units, and 32 memory care units
  • Ground floor retail of 15K square feet, with additional restaurant use about 4800 square feet
  • Medical office on the 2nd floor of 32K square feet
  • 3 story partially underground parking garage with 292 parking spaces
  • Building height request of up to 115 feet, 10 stories
  • Net fiscal benefit to the city of $1.1M per year
  • Voluntary Concessions include contributions to the library, parks, affordable housing units or fund contributions, dedicated space to a civic/non-profit use, large green spaces and public plazas, improved pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, installation of historic markers, EV charging stations

Letty’s Thoughts:

When development projects are in front of us, it’s always a judgment call about balance: whether the project contributes positives such as amenities, housing, improvements in transportation, environment, etc and revenues to the city vs the potential impacts and whether those have been planned for and mitigated. With 8 public meetings, work sessions, and a walking tour (just with City Council – there were far more among our boards and commissions), I appreciated the input we heard from the community and my colleagues and that the project team was responsive to the feedback along the way – the process worked as it should and the final proposal was better than when it started. We will all acknowledge up front that this is a large and tall building, and it will be a change to the S. Maple neighborhood. For me, the positives far outweighed that concern, especially because of additional tapering and facade improvements made in the final months of the project. With 69% open space (50% publicly accessible open space) and 19% tree canopy – that is an incredible addition to the south of Broad area that needs revitalization and more green space. In a region with aging boomers and seniors, there is strong demand for this housing type with continuum of care plus medical offices right downstairs. Not to mention the compelling fiscals (about 2 cents on the property tax rate), pedestrian and bicycle improvements, LEED Gold building and stormwater improvements to what is mostly an impervious site currently (see photo below).

There has been concern about sewer infrastructure – I last wrote about our deep dive on the state of sewer infrastructure and capacity needs in my February post. Without getting too technical, with each development project, a project pays “sewer availability fees” that help fund infrastructure upgrades and capacity with the overarching principle that development should pay for itself. Negotiations are underway for additional capacity in Fairfax County, and we have plenty of capacity in our Arlington agreement. With the Quinn/Homestretch project, the city retains the option of sending the flows to either Arlington or Fairfax pending the negotiations with the counties, with the costs borne by the applicant either way.

(If you’re really into sewer infrastructure and financing – we’ll be diving into this again soon, so stay tuned!)

(2) Greening of Lincoln

There was a packed house on Tuesday night for a community meeting about the Greening of Lincoln project. I wrote about the project back in January and the project page has more information. If you are a neighbor or just interested resident in traffic calming, adding more green infrastructure, and improving pedestrian safety on Lincoln – I encourage you to stay tuned. The project will be on an accelerated timeline due to the grant funding, with individual block meetings happening this spring and the design phase expected to complete this summer.

(3) Neighborhood Meet & Greets

Last week, I was invited to have a meet and greet/Q&A session with the residents at the West Broad, aka the Harris Teeter building. There was a great turnout (shout out to the new readers from WB!) and I appreciated the opportunity to meet so many residents I don’t traditionally hear from during City Council meetings. I heard how residents love the walkability of the city, location to so many dining and recreation options, and the unique personality and charm of our small businesses. I answered questions about upcoming developments, middle housing needs, the need for more sidewalks, a good brainstorming about a shared shuttle to metro stations, and more.

Two interesting ahas – a large majority of residents in attendance only had 1 car or less, which validates the data we’ve collected over the years. And over half of the residents I met were retirees (even though the building isn’t age restricted) because they specifically sought out the walkable, no/less car lifestyle in their retirement.

If you’re interested in hosting a meet and greet in your building, HOA meeting, or boy/girl scout troop meeting – just get in touch, I’d love to schedule one and meet your neighborhood!

What’s Coming Up:

Monday, March 4 – City Council Work Session*

Wednesday, March 6 – Meet the Council Office Hours (9 am, City Hall)

Monday, March 11 – City Council Meeting*

Friday, March 22 – Letty’s Walk and Talk (9 am, Big Chimneys Park)

Monday, March 25 – City Council Meeting*

*Mondays (except 5th Mondays and holidays) at 7:30 pm. You can access the agenda and livestream here, including recordings of past meetings