FAIRFAX, VA — A large commercial property south of the Vienna-Fairfax-GMU subway station could be redeveloped based on a measure approved at Tuesday’s Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting.
Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik presented a question to the board, which passed, asking county staff to evaluate an amendment to the overall plan to consider additional development with a broader range of uses for the Pan Am Mall.
“As a Board of Directors, we have recognized the challenges the retail industry faces and the need to work in partnership with retail owners to help ensure that our shopping centers remain viable and continue to contribute positively to the communities they serve,” said Palchik, introducing the movement. “In this case, the center’s owner, Federal Reality, is interested in working with the community on a redevelopment concept to achieve these goals.”
The supervisor made the request in anticipation of a rezoning application to be filed by Federal Realty, which has already contacted some of the neighboring communities. An opportunity for broader public engagement should arise prior to the rezoning application.
Palchik added that the motion was intended to serve as a vehicle for the owner to work with county staff and community stakeholders to come up with a mixed-use concept that provided an enhanced retail experience and ensured viability at mall long term.
“We would like to thank Supervisor Palchik and the rest of the board for their support in envisioning the future of Pan Am as a serviced and vibrant neighborhood,” said Ramsey Meiser, senior vice president for development at Federal Reality, in a press release. “We are constantly looking for ways to evolve our properties to better meet the needs of the communities they serve. Pan Am’s convenient location and proximity to the Vienna Metro station provide the opportunity to create an environment that brings residential life to an already successful We look forward to working with Supervisor Palchik, county staff and the community to make this vision a reality.”
Located at the intersection of Lee Highway and Nutley Street in the Fairfax area of the county, the mall contains a mix of retail stores and restaurants, with a Safeway, CVS Pharmacy, MicroCenter outlet, and the Michael store serving anchor points. The property is also adjacent to the Thompson family cemetery.
“I expect any potential planning to assess how to balance redevelopment with available transport capacity, look for opportunities to improve cycling and pedestrian connections, and create meaningful open spaces and compatible transitions and buffers with adjacent neighborhoods. “, said Palchik. “Recognizing the presence of existing stable neighborhoods close to the centre, the appropriate scale of design, volume and massing of any redevelopment should be considered. I further expect that the resulting planning process will benefit from strong community engagement. The owners of the center have committed to the same thing.”
Additionally, county staff were tasked with incorporating the adjacent Thompson Cemetery and floodplain into the design.
Built in 1979, the Pan Am Mall sits on a parcel zoned C-6, allowing for commercial and service uses intended to serve multiple neighborhoods.
The current zoning ordinance, which passed in March, says this about properties zoned C-6:
“Development within the neighborhood should be encouraged in compact centers with coordinated development that is planned to maximize comparison and one-stop shopping, to minimize congestion, and to incorporate safe multi-modal and pedestrian traffic.”