Open and Shut

By:  Scott Pearson, Pearson Realty
October 2018, ENDEAVOR  News Magazine

Fall Color along Difficult RunLocal real estate does not exist in a vacuum and is affected by many variables.  For example, the presence of Thomas Jefferson High School in Annandale has an effect on housing for families who do not want their child to be educated too many miles from home.  Development and revitalization play a part as well, since people do gravitate toward areas like the Mosaic District.

So it is with two events that have made the news, the closing of the K-Mart on John Marr Drive and the opening of the sports complex, The St. James.  It was announced that the K-Mart will close on November 18 and the St. James just opened to much fanfare, providing 300 new jobs in Mason District.

When it comes to the closing of K-Mart, people have mixed reactions.  For a long time it was a common belief that the ideal geographic location between Columbia Pike and Little River Turnpike was ripe for redevelopment.  Back in 2006 the parcel received an increased floor area ratio in order to develop a mixed-use property of retail and residential.  However the collapse of the capital market and a contentious relationship with K-Mart and its long-term lease kept any redevelopment plans in someone’s bottom, desk drawer.

Now the store will be shuttered and one of the biggest parking lots in the area will sprout weeds in the Spring.  We can see this as a negative or as a positive opportunity for the kind of redevelopment that Annandale needs to move forward.  If a positive, retail entity takes over a revitalized space, then maybe Annandale will cease to be a “drive thru” town and will become more of a destination.  It can only be hoped that whatever stores or restaurants occupy the space will appeal to ALL the people of Annandale.  And when that happens it will have a positive effect on real estate in the area.

Yes, we recognize that brick and mortar stores are sometimes struggling and that condition and very low sales obviously led to the closing of K-Mart.  However, some stores are showing truly positive numbers, like Costco and Target.  So there is hope and anticipation that the K-Mart property will produce an opportunity to provide retail (or residential) experiences that do not exist in Annandale today.

According to a report issued in 2017 by Fairfax County,  redevelopment, not repurposing, of aging or outdated retail space (most especially big box stores) should be prioritized, in order to encourage revitalization and avoid an oversaturation of outdated retail space.  The report also concludes that complete redevelopment is called for when existing properties have become deteriorated or outlived their useful life and especially buildings where their spatial configuration has become obsolete.

Meanwhile the opening of The St. James demonstrates that this area has plenty to offer and can attract top level operations.  The opening is a validation of the quality of life in Annandale, where commuting to anywhere in the county or downtown is made simple via the arteries that serve it.  This is true progress. There has always been a reason for Annandale to be called the Crossroads of Northern Virginia TM.

With time comes change, either positive or negative, and sometimes both.  I view these two events as positive steps toward a brighter and revitalized future for Annandale.  It would not take much to make Annandale a premier, walkable destination for Fairfax County residents.  And that, my readers, means that your property, whether residential or commercial, will increase in value.

Nothing is inevitable, but with the plans for Landmark and Lincolnia, all signs point toward the positive and we will be here to witness the changes that have been too long in coming.

More on Annandale Real Estate

Median Sales Price of Annandale Homes
2010     $507,800
2015     $539,900
2019     $615,533
2021     $667,500


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