Small shopping center proposed to replace two rundown houses on Route 1

Two houses viewed from the street
The Fairfax County Planning Commission will review a proposal to build a shopping center where these two houses now stand.

A proposal to turn a pair of deteriorating houses on Richmond Highway into a small shopping center will go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission next week.

The two homes, located at 8212 and 8118 Richmond Highway (see map), are actually on the same property and are already zoned for commercial use. The owner is proposing to demolish the homes to make way for a 9,200-square-foot shopping center, according to a Department of Planning and Development staff report released last week.

The shopping center would consist of two 4,600-square-foot buildings, with a driveway that intersects with Richmond Highway separating the two buildings. Parking would be in the rear of the center, behind the buildings. An outdoor seating area would be allowed in front of the buildings should a restaurant or restaurants move into the spaces.

A drawing of the shopping center
A drawing of the proposed shopping center from the county’s staff report.

The proposal to build the shopping center has been worked on between the applicant, Alwadi LLC, and the county since 2016. The staff report indicates that there has been ongoing work with the applicant over proffer conditions, including a requirement for green building practices and for a site environmental assessment since car repairs were done on the lot. Additionally, the staff report says that while the overall plan for the shopping center passes muster, the company’s application still contains errors and could cause delays should the Board of Supervisors approve the application.

The property’s current rundown state is also mentioned in the staff report. It references ongoing code violations dating back for years, and says that approval of the application to build the shopping center is separate from the ongoing issues the property owner has with the county.

“The site has been the subject of a variety of code compliance violations dating back to 2004, and as of the date of this report, is still under Notice of Violation,” the staff report reads. “The current violations pertain to unpermitted outdoor storage and unsafe structures. The Department of Code Compliance (DCC) has referred the violations to the County Attorney’s office for legal action.”

Alwadi LLC, whose address matches that of a title loan and car rental business in the City of Falls Church, purchased the Route 1 property in 2014 for $1 million. The previous owners had, for a time, operated a plant nursery and contracting office out of the houses after a 2002 rezoning that made the property okay for commercial use.

The two lots were last used as a rental car facility and a title loan business, respectively. The title loan business has been closed since 2017, and in 2018 the windows of the other building were boarded up after the car rental business moved. As of last week, the front area of the homes was overgrown and some vehicles remain in the rear of the lot. Neither house appears to have been used in some time.

The Planning Commission pubic hearing is scheduled for September 19, with a Board of Supervisor public hearing and final vote scheduled for September 24. Both dates are subject to change. The planning commission schedule can be checked here.

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