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Fairfax Corner: Shops, Movies Restaurants

Work is progressing rapidly on Fairfax Corner — a $150 million, mixed-use entertainment complex being built in Fair Oaks. A pedestrian-oriented center with an urban feel, it will feature shops, restaurants and a 14-screen multiplex cinema.

"At this point, we're focused on development of the first three phases," said Paul Weinschenk, a vice president with The Peterson Cos., developing the project. "We hope to start construction of the movie theater, March 1, as soon as it receives its county permits."

Being built on 48 acres south of I-66 and north of the Fairfax County Government Center's administration building, Fairfax Corner aims to have something for everyone. It will also contain offices, apartments and a hotel, as well as an area designated for a future Metro station.

Built in a traditional, main-street style, Fairfax Corner will have a mix of multi-story office buildings with retail stores on the first floors. Individual builders will construct their own parts of the project, but Peterson will have overall architectural control. Said Weinschenk: "The exteriors will be a mix of brick and precast stone, plus block."

There'll be a town commons — with a grassy area surrounded by buildings — plus a hard-surfaced plaza with a fountain and attractive landscaping in front of the movie theater. And the shops, restaurants and theaters along the sidewalks of the internal streets, will give it an ambiance similar to that of the Reston Town Center.

Fairfax Corner will front on Monument Drive to the south and Random Hills Road to the north, with access mainly from Monument Drive and Random Hills Road. It will be 1.16 million square feet total, when complete, with retail and restaurants accounting for 315,000 square feet.

The project will initially contain 135,000 square feet of office space, with the potential to add another 265,000 in multiple buildings. "We have some flexibility in the zoning," explained Weinschenk. "We can [fill this space with] office, retail or hotel uses — whichever is healthier at the time."

Envisioned as the project's anchor, the 3,600-stadium-seat theater will occupy about 100,000 square feet. It will be run by National Amusements, which operates the theater in the Reston Town Center. It's at the I-66 end of the complex, and its grand opening is projected for November.

Four restaurants are already on board. California Pizza Kitchen (specialty pizzas) and Chipotle (Mexican specialties) are slated to open early this summer. Buca Di Beppo (Italian cuisine) and P. F. Chang's (specialty Asian dishes) are earmarked for late fall openings.

Peterson anticipates having six to eight restaurants total in Fairfax Corner, including Ruth's Chris Steak House. Negotiations with various restaurants are still underway, as Peterson continues working with some high-end restaurants new to this county.

Among the retail stores will be Arhaus (home furnishings and accessories), Organized Living (storage and organizational needs) and Rei (outdoor recreational equipment and apparel). All three are expected to open this summer. There'll also be medical offices. Dentists Chang Yi, Robert Leipzig and Mark Carl will move in this summer.

Rounding out the carefully planned mix of uses will be more than 1,100 luxury residential units. Phase I — comprised of 650 multi-family apartments — was already completed by Lincoln Property Co. And developer Summit Real Estate Investment Trust is building 470 more apartments.

Work on phase II, a five-story office building, is also finished. George Mason Mortgage Corp. is already occupying 20,000 square feet. Other tenants are AAA's Mid-Atlantic office, Intercoastal Mortgage and First Heritage Title Insurance Co. And Peterson is working with other potential tenants to fill up the rest of that building.

Phase III — the one currently under construction — began in August. "When it's done, we'll be really heavy on retail, dining and entertainment," said Weinschenk on Tuesday. "All of it is underway. We've got six buildings — with block and steel going up and roads being paved. It's a very hectic work site, and five more buildings will start over the course of the next several months."

Phase IV will be the addition of a limited-service hotel for a business clientele. However, it's not yet known which hotel will build there.

Looking toward the future, Peterson has given three acres to the county for a Metro rail station and parking to be built someday at the corner of Monument Drive and Government Center Parkway. It'll be within the median of I-66, somewhere along the frontage of Fair Oaks Mall to the north and Fairfax Corner on the south.

And Peterson is doing other transportation improvements, too. The developer has already built a mile-long segment of Monument Drive along the frontage of the entire project, opening up Monument Drive from Route 29 to Government Center Parkway. It provides another way to reach Fairfax Corner, instead of using Route 29 and West Ox Road or taking Random Hills Road.

Last spring, Peterson improved Random Hills Road, flattening out some of its curves and improving its sight distance. And it will eventually change this two-lane, country road into a four-lane, divided roadway from the Monument Drive Bridge to near the existing four-lane section near the Random Hills community.

Peterson has also extended Government Center Parkway from Monument Drive to Random Hills Road. And it's contributing more than $4 million to the Fairfax Center Road Fund, used by the county for more regional roads, such as Routes 50 and 29 and the interchanges.

The hope is that Fairfax Corner — between the Fairfax County Parkway and Route 50 — will become a true town center — complete with a job base, plus retail and entertainment attractions to bring in a goodly amount of the more than 722,000 people who live within a 10-mile radius. When all of its components are up and running, it should quickly earn a reputation as a special place in which to live, shop and work — an appealing destination where people will come and linger.

Meanwhile, there's still work to be done. "We hold our breath every time it snows or rains," said Weinschenk. "Other than that, it's going really well, and we're excited that it's going to be a really nice project, right here in the heart of Fairfax."