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We can do better at Northfax

by on 07/09/2017

This Tuesday, the Fairfax City Council is scheduled to vote on whether to recreate Fairfax Shopping Center as the same commercial strip it is today. We can do much better.

Fairfax Shopping Center is located on Fairfax Boulevard between University Drive and Eaton Place. A development application by Regency Partners  proposes to build a grocery store and two retail buildings at the site, with surface parking taking up most of the area in between.

Fairfax Shopping Center lies within the area of the city known as Northfax, defined by the intersections of Fairfax Boulevard, Route 123 and Eaton Place. The City’s Comprehensive Plan (p. 171)  calls for redeveloping Northfax with a mix of stores, homes and offices and a compact grid of walkable streets.

Fairfax Shopping Center pictures  show what the project would look like — and what the area would look like under the vision in the Fairfax Boulevard Master Plan. Which would you prefer?

Increasingly, people and businesses are gravitating toward compact, walkable areas. Nearby places such as the Mosaic District, Fairfax Corner and Reston Town Center are capturing the most desirable retail stores and employers, because people want to spend time in these kinds of environments. Conventional “strip” shopping centers, on the other hand, are rapidly losing their luster.

Arguably more than any other area in the City, Northfax has the potential to be a  regional destination that can attract the mix of uses that make for a vibrant community. If this project were approved, it would be almost impossible to redevelop the surrounding parcels as the compact, walkable area envisioned in the Comprehensive Plan and essential to making Northfax a success.

Putting quality development in place takes time. It took decades for areas like Reston Town Center and the Mosaic District to come to fruition. But planning and following a long-term vision pay off. The City should stay the course called for in its Comprehensive Plan.

Fairfax City Citizens for Smarter Growth is asking the Mayor and Council to reject this project — read our  letter to Mayor and Council



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