If all goes as planned, those opposed to and offended by an adult-video store operating at the crossroads of Centreville will soon have reason to cheer.
The land beneath the MVC Latenight DVD store, plus adjacent parcels, has been consolidated by a developer who plans to replace it with a bank and pharmacy. In return, MVC will receive a hefty chunk of cash for packing up its porn and heading out of town.
Details were unveiled at Tuesday night's meeting of the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee. Attorney Melanie Reilly, representing the applicant, Unicorp National Developments Inc. of Orlando, Fla., said the site consists of 3.67 acres at Route 29 and Braddock Road.
"We'll level the existing buildings and make a fresh start with something new," she said. Currently, an ethnic grocery store and a psychic-reader business are also on the property, and they, too, would disappear.
Arising there instead would be a 14,550-square-foot Walgreen's Pharmacy and a 5,700-square-foot Bank of America, as well as a 3,200-square-foot retail building. Both the bank and pharmacy need special-exception permits from the county for their drive-through windows.
Unicorp also seems sensitive to the fact that Centreville is trying to enlarge and revamp its Historic District. Said Reilly: "We understand this is the gateway to the expanded Historic District, and we're willing to go through ARB [Architectural Review Board] approval and pull this project into the District."
CALLING IT a "retail-redevelopment opportunity," Susan Bourgeois, also representing Unicorp, said the developer tried to consolidate this land for the past six to eight years. Then, she said, "About a year ago, we put these properties under contract."
When WFCCA Chairman Jim Katcham asked what was proposed for the small, retail building, Bourgeois said non-restaurant businesses such as an eyeglasses or cell-phone store. She said it would be "a little-box type of tenant."
"What I like about this — and I'm sure others do, too, is the loss of one store in particular," said Katcham, referring to the MVC. "And we'd like you to proffer out any adult-oriented businesses on this site."
MVC's prominent, in-your-face store at the Routes 28/29 crossroads of Centreville has been a highly visible thorn in the moral and aesthetic sensibilities of many local residents since it first set up shop there last year. The fact that it's near the Historic District, a church, preschool and daycare center made matters worse.
But since the county currently allows adult-video stores in certain commercial districts, and MVC had a long-term lease there, it had a legal right to be there. And no one could make it leave — until now.
So Bourgeois' reply to Katcham came as particularly good news to the WFCCA members. "I have a written agreement to terminate [MVC] on payment of a very large sum," she said.
She and David Konapelsky, with GTM Architects of Bethesda, then discussed how the new buildings would look. "I started going to Historic District [Task Force] meetings and learned that most people in Centreville, let alone Fairfax County, don't know about the Historic District," said Bourgeois. "I understand [the Task Force] wants to give it a sense of presence."
She said the project, called The Shops at Historic Centreville, doesn't want to resemble Colonial Williamsburg. However, the bank and pharmacy won't look like the usual Bank of America and Walgreen's buildings, either, but will be more compatible with structures in the Historic District.
AND INTRODUCING the district will be a 3-foot wall along the radius of Route 29 and Braddock Road. Konapelsky said the project's palette of building materials and colors will be similar to those used in the Historic District.
For the Walgreen's, he said, "We chose a deep-red, handmade-brick-looking building with deep-green awnings. And there'll be historic lanterns on the wall. The bank will have a [sloped] roof so it'll look more residential, plus a gable and detail on the brick. The smallest building will have wood-looking trim, plus some brick, to relate to the flavor of architecture of the homes in the Historic District."
However, said At-Large Planning Commissioner Jim Hart, "Centreville had frame or stone buildings, and not very much brick. The [Historic District] foundations and chimneys are stone, and the buildings are frame. The brick, to me, is an alien element [here]." Perhaps it would be more appropriate to the District, he said, to use less brick and more stone.
"This is a prominent location in Centreville — visible from a long way away," said WFCCA's Ted Troscianecki. "So we want something attractive that draws people in." He said the group will want to know more about transportation plans and how the back of the project would look from the Historic District. And, he added, "We'll encourage pedestrian access to the Historic District."
Bourgeois showed him where several sidewalks would connect to both the church and daycare center there. She also said five current entrances to the site would be consolidated into one. Unicorp will also install a median and have right turns in and out of the project.
WFCCA's Russ Wanek asked, "How about a green, as in environmental, roof on the Walgreen's, with plant life, instead of gravel and asphalt?" Agreeing, WFCCA's Chris Terpak-Malm said the plan didn't seem to contain trees. Bourgeois said landscaping will create a buffer between the buildings and she'd ask Walgreen's about the roof idea.
WFCCA's Dorothy Steranka, who lives across the street from the site, said she loved Unicorp's proposal: "It's so much better than what's there now." But Hart worried about internal traffic circulation.
"The third building conflicts with people using the drive-through for the drugstore," he said. "And it would add to the confusion of getting around the site, so I don't know if you need it."
Bourgeois said it would help by slowing traffic there. And economically, she said, "The cost of the site, plus the buyout of the video store, necessitates the need for more rent." Little Rocky Run's Al Francese wanted to see "more of a walkable, village-type development, with smaller-building uses."
BUT, REPLIED Bourgeois, "Ultimately, the economics of the site are driving who the uses are. We have modern uses enveloped in a historical design; that's the rocky marriage we came up with."
Gate Post Estates' Pat Ferguson wanted the site to be more "user-friendly so people can enjoy the views and sunsets there." She suggested an ice-cream store with outside seating for the small building, and Bourgeois said that would be fine, provided it was a successful national retailer.
Still, added Terpak-Malm, "You have an extraordinary site here, and it would be lovely if you could take advantage of that. You could put down a picnic table and people could see amazing views of the Blue Ridge Mountains."