Annapolis-based Hekemian plans to bring a 304,000 square foot mixed-use development called the Northgate to the intersection of North Washington and East Jefferson Streets. Using designs prepared by MVA Architects, the Northgate development will feature 119,164 square feet of residential area, which will include 95 “luxury residential rental apartments” and 10 three-story townhouses in the rear. In an interesting twist, the developer has proposed initiating a VIP program for prospective residents that provide “move-in discounts for city employees, including teachers” – meaning no security deposits or application fees for eligible tenants. Hekemian is also setting rent on 7 of the available units at an affordable rate, so paycheck-impaired educators can look forward to a double discount as well. The residential component is to be coupled with 22,396 square feet of retail at targeted at “higher-end retailers and services” (i.e., “a white tablecloth type restaurant” or art gallery) and 15,125 square feet of separately accessible office space, though specific tenants have not been named, and developers typically court popular opinion with such desirable tenants. Given the bevy of uses in play on the parcel, the building height will vary from 4 to 5 stories, with the townhomes standing along the building’s rear to provide a buffer with the neighborhoods beyond. The sites at 436, 458 and 472 North Washington Street currently house a cluster of single-family homes, a funeral parlor and its adjoining parking lot, respectively. Convenience aside, some local homeowners in the suburb were initially concerned about the presence of a 55 foot shopping and apartment complex on the corner. Since the project first surfaced publicly in early 2007, Hekemian has retooled their plans multiple times, in accordance with the wishes of the Falls Church Planning Commission. Those changes resulted in the loss of 19 units and subsequent creation of the townhouse buffer. Even so, some remain concerned about the developer’s push for a variance that would allow them to build up to five feet from the property line, instead of the normally regulated twenty.
While still under negotiation with the Board regarding an acceptable traffic pattern, the developer has since sought to curry local favor by promising up to $20,000 worth of streetscape improvements and shooting for an ever-popular LEED (environmentally-friendly) certification.
Though Northgate has been consistently planned as rental residences, it's been beaten to the punch by others - like Pearson Square and Avera Station - that were initially conceived as condo developments, but wound up rental due to the lack of confidence in the housing market.