Originally published in the Falls Church News Press – August 27, 2014
While exploring opportunities for economic development, Falls Church Mayor David Tarter told the News-Press this week he believes the City is “up to the challenge” of promoting economic growth to meet an array of interrelated pressures, including the growing needs of its school system. “Ultimately, we can and must continue to support our schools,” he said.
An annual tradition dating back to the founding of the News-Press in the early 1990s, the News-Press this week provided an opportunity to the Mayor of Falls Church, now David Tarter, to reflect on the direction and priorities he sees as the most important in what has become known as the Mayor’s Annual State of the City.
Here are Mayor Tarter’s responses to a number of questions posed by the News-Press designed to get at what he thinks is most important to the City and its residents:
News-Press: What’s it like being the mayor? How is it different than you expected? Are you happy you chose this job?
Tarter: It has been a privilege to serve as mayor these past seven months. I am delighted to be a part of this wonderful community and to play a small role in its future. I had a pretty clear understanding of the level of commitment involved before I began my term, but I certainly have been busy since becoming mayor. I am very fortunate, however, to have great support from my colleagues on City Council, City staff, and from my family.
News-Press: What do you think are the most important issues facing the City?
Tarter: The City faces a number of important issues, including maintaining the excellence of our schools, paying for necessary capital improvements and infrastructure, providing needed City services, and keeping taxes reasonable, while preserving and enhancing our community. These issues are interrelated and ultimately depend upon addressing the major challenge I see confronting the City: promoting economic growth.
I believe we are up to the challenge.
Three new grocery stores are under construction, Harris Teeter, Fresh Market, and Good Fortune ,that will more than double the number of supermarkets in the City. These developments are expected to bring in almost 2.5 million dollars in net tax revenue each year. More importantly, these projects will be a catalyst for economic development.
The Hilton Garden Inn and Northgate projects have just opened and together should bring in another million dollars in net new annual tax revenue. An application for an office building at 400 North Washington is under consideration, as is the Mason Row project, which includes a hotel, apartments, condominiums, and retail space.
The City is seeking to manage growth by providing a clearer vision and greater direction to the development community. We just started our fourth Economic Opportunity Area Plan, which will guide the redevelopment of the West Broad Street area. This process will ultimately re-examine the City’s eight commercial nodes with the goal of making them more vibrant, walkable, and economically productive.
Jim Snyder, our Director of Planning, is guiding these efforts; he spent over 33 years planning in Arlington and worked on efforts to revitalize Clarendon, Shirlington, Westover, and other parts of the County. In addition, the recently approved Mobility for all Modes Plan will make the City more pedestrian and bike friendly.