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Face of ‘The Highway’ Is Changing

Two Richmond Highway property owners each received $25,000 checks April 26 under the joint County/Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation’s Façade Improvement Program for enhancing the appearance of their properties along “The Highway.”

Presented by Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerald Hyland, the matching grants went to David Wirman, owner of the property at 7329 Richmond Highway, and Drs. John and Deborah Schrenzel, DVM, owners of Hybla Valley Veterinary Hospital, 7627 Richmond Highway. Hyland was joined in the presentation by Richard F. “Rick” Neel and Lara Fritts, president and executive director, respectively, SFDC.

“These are the second and third projects to be completed under this combined program of the Fairfax County Revitalization and Housing Authority and SFDC to assist small businesses along Richmond Highway. They are an important part of Richmond Highway’s revitalization,” said Neel.

“Small business is the backbone of America and it’s great to see the county working with them. SFDC is the organization that administers this program in this part of the county,” he said.

Cutting the ribbon in front of Citron Safe and Lock, owned by Joseph and Susan Smith, Hyland acknowledged, “Having locked my keys in my car several time over the years, this business has been a life saver to me.” The lock and key establishment is one of three businesses located on the property owned by Wirman.

“We have worked for years to improve Richmond Highway. I’m sure many others will follow your lead,” Hyland said to Wirman. The total price of this façade improvement was $70,000. The program provides for a reimbursement grant of up to $25,000.

FOLLOWING THAT CEREMONY, Hyland, Neel, Fritts, members of SFDC’s Design Review Committee, and Kahan Dhillon, president, Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce, traveled to the veterinary hospital to cut a second ribbon and present a second grant.

“I’m thrilled you were willing to spend a substantial amount of money to make these improvements. I know that you not only improved the building externally but did an extensive amount of work internally,” Hyland said in presenting the day’s second check to the father/daughter doctor Schrenzel team.

“It took a little more that what we expected. We put a lot into the interior,” said Dr. John Schrenzel. The price tag on the veterinary hospital renovation came to approximately $300,000, he said.

“When the guidelines for this program were developed they were based on this project. A big part of the overall program, in addition to revitalizing the look along Richmond Highway, is to generate more business,” said Neel.

“You’ve had the faith to stick it out here and for that the SFDC, Chamber of Commerce and county thank you for making this investment,” Hyland said in presenting the check to the Schrenzels.

The Façade Improvement Program commenced in 2002 with a pilot program along Richmond Highway. It allows up to $25,000 as a matching grant to improve outward appearances of existing businesses along the corridor.