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Mayor's Ice Cream Shop

City Council approves restaurants, hears marketing strategy.

Mayor Rob Lederer excused himself and turned the chair over to Councilmember Scott Silverthorne during a special use permit application in the Jan. 24 City Council meeting. The request, presented by Dino Andreatos and The Rat Pack, LLC, would allow a retail food establishment on the first floor of the Moore/McCandlish House, which Lederer's family would lease and operate as an ice cream parlor and food shop. The two-story house on the corner of Chain Bridge Road and North Street was once used for office space but has sat vacant since the fall.

The proposed business on the first floor of the Moore/McCandlish House would serve ice cream, coffee, deli sandwiches and soups, said Andreatos, while the second floor will remain office space rented by Walnut Street Development.

The application for Andreatos’ special use permit was not subject to the usual two-year time limit because the retail use is strongly supported in the city's Comprehensive Plan, said Dave Hudson, director of Community Development and Planning.

"Number one, there's no delivery service, and number two, it's so definitely supported by the Comprehensive Plan … in the existing office buildings we have in Old Town [Fairfax], we actually want to have the first floors as residential uses," said Hudson.

Councilmember Joan Cross said she thought the special use permit should come back for review in a year, to give the residential community surrounding the proposed food establishment time to voice any concerns or objections.

"We have $300,000 of personal funds invested in this business," said Andreatos. "As a land owner, I want to make sure my tenant is as successful as possible." It would take some time to break even and he wanted to start the business as soon as possible, he said.

THE ESTABLISHMENT will add to the downtown feel, said Andreatos, and will tie in to the Old Town Village mixed-use development across the street, a project overseen by Walnut Street Development.

"It's the right thing to do," Councilmember Gail Lyon, who said she was once a small business owner as well. "If someone had given me a time frame on [the business], I'm not sure I would have been able to do that."

According to Andreatos, a few structural changes to the building would make it compatible with a dining establishment, such as adding fencing, more back porch space, and lighting for outdoor seating. The City Council, minus Lederer, approved the special use permit request unanimously.

The council also unanimously approved a residential permit parking district along Queen Ann Drive from Old Lee Highway to Colony Road. According to city manager Bob Sisson, because of the construction work on Fairfax High School renovations, students often park across Old Lee Highway during the school day. The residents of the 14 houses affected by the parking situation sent a petition to the City of Fairfax, he said. A permit parking district would allow only Queen Ann Drive residents to park along the street. The district would be marked with signs, said Sisson, and residents would get stickers so that they could park there.

Violators of the parking district will receive $40 fines for their first and second offenses, said Sisson. "If there is a consistent violation, then towing may be in order," he said.

CITY OFFICIALS have come up with a marketing plan for the city, which city marketing director Jo Ormesher presented at the work session. The point is to raise the profile of the city, said Ormesher, and to do this, she suggested a series of items such as a collection of promotional materials ready to hand out at events, a photo library for media requests, as well as a newspaper, radio and magazine advertising campaign.

"We’ve got to have these things so that when people ask us, they’re there," said Ormesher. She also suggested revising the city’s current logo and tagline so that the city can present a cohesive message.

Silverthorne wondered how the city, if it approved a citywide wireless network, could incorporate that into the marketing plan, since such a network would help out city businesses. Since the City of Philadelphia already has a wireless network, said Ormesher, Fairfax could follow its lead.

"I think it would be a dynamic message about this city," said Cross.

In the plan, said Ormesher, the city would also take part in the larger Fairfax County marketing project, "fxva," at a cost of about $66,000. However, said Lederer, any participation would be contingent upon the city being allowed to have a say in the Fairfax County project.

The City Council also approved the following items:

* An appropriation resolution for $25,000 in improvements to Ratcliffe Park.

* A special use permit for Qais Ibrahim to establish a retail and delivery food establishment, Pizza DiZena, in the Strykers Square Shopping Center on Old Pickett Road.

* A consideration of a license agreement with First States Management/Financial Realty Trust for the use of 70 parking spaces after hours and on weekends during the construction in downtown Fairfax. Lyon added an amendment to the original motion that extended the agreement from one year to two.