Demolition of Penn Daw Plaza set to begin

Penn Daw Plaza

Fairfax County fire trucks are seen during hazmat training at the Penn Daw Plaza on June 16. (Courtesy of Dan Lagana)

Editor’s Note: This story was updated Friday at 10:36 p.m. to reflect new information provided by Combined Properties. The demolition of Penn Daw Plaza did not begin Thursday, according to a representative for the company. Demolition is scheduled to start Monday, according to the representative. 

The end is near for the Penn Daw Plaza.

The longtime fixture at the intersection of North Kings Highway and Route 1 has been vacant since November 2015, and demolition officially began yesterday begins Monday, according to a representative for Combined Properties, who owns the property.

The demo is expected to take four months, and will include removal of the entire shopping center structure and parking lots. Clark Builders Group is the general contractor for the project.

South Alex coming

A mixed-use property called South Alex will be built where the shopping center once stood. South Alex will consist of 400 apartments, 44,000 square feet of retail space and 41 townhomes.

However, financing for the project is still being secured, according to Aisha Hill of Combined Properties. After demolition of Penn Daw Plaza is done, infrastructure work will begin on the townhouses. That work is expected to be done by late 2017, at which the construction of the townhouses will begin, according to Hill. The townhouses are expected to be finished sometime between 2018 and 2019, she said.

Once the financing is secured, construction on the remainder of the project will begin. Combined is still pursing an anchor grocer for the retail portion of the development, Hill said. The Washington Business Journal had previously reported that The Fresh Market had shown interest in opening a location there.

History of the Plaza

The Penn Daw Plaza was completed in 1960 and hosted a variety of stores and restaurants through the years. Its final two tenants, CVS and Advance Auto Parts, moved out in November 2015.

The Co-Op supermarket was the original anchor grocery store when the plaza opened. A Giant and Shoppers Food Warehouse later became tenants. When the Shoppers closed in 2011, it essentially signaled the beginning of the end for the shopping center.

Other longtime Penn Daw businesses included Straight From the Crate, Pizza Villa and the AMF Alexandria Lanes bowling alley.

Fire department training

If you’re wondering why there’s been fire trucks at the plaza frequently in the past few week, it’s because the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department has been using the empty shopping center for hazmat training, according Ashley Hildebrandt, public information officer for the department. Today was likely their last day of training there, she said.