Feb
5
2015

There is a vision to untangle and redevelop Seven Corners (Washington Business Journal)

Filed under: News

The following is an article by Michael Neibauer published by Washington Business Journal where Mark Silverwood, president and CEO of the Reston-based Silverwood Cos. is quoted. The orignial source is located here:  http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/breaking_ground/2015/02/there-is-a-vision-to-untangle-and-redevelop-seven.html?page=all

Feb 4, 2015, 7:57pm EST- If you can squint past the hair-raising, misery-inducing traffic, outdated retail centers and aging residential properties, you can see the future of Seven Corners.

“When you think about the growth of the area, the proximity to Metro, the demand is going to continue to grow,” said Mark Silverwood, president and CEO of the Reston-based Silverwood Cos., owner of the East Falls Apartments at Wilson Boulevard and Peyton Randolph Drive. “It’s a logical area, as far as I’m concerned — you’ve got nodes going east, west, north and south. The community will thrive.”

Silverwood is a member of the Mason District Seven Corners Visioning Task Force, a panel of community leaders, urban planners and landowners that is now finishing up a three-year effort to rethink 218 acres surrounding the Seven Corners intersection. That effort, and the fruits of it, are the subject of our centerpiece in this Friday’s Washington Business Journal.

Check back Friday for the full story, historic Seven Corners images and more.

Seven Corners, as we know it today, was framed in the early 1950s around a new intersection/interchange where Leesburg Pike meets Arlington Boulevard, Wilson Boulevard and Sleepy Hollow Road. The majority of its residential communities were constructed in 1952, to feed a growing demand for federal employee housing.

The Seven Corners Shopping Center, which opened in 1956 as Northern Virginia’s first major regional shopping destination, made sense at the time. Seven Corners was a bustling suburb.

But the community has not kept up with the times — not with the East Falls Church Metro Station a mile away, with transit possibly coming to Leesburg Pike, and with the overall shift in planning toward walkable, mixed-use development. Seven Corners is the opposite of mixed-use. It’s either residential or retail. Nothing in between.

“Everything we’ve seen here, in the last 20 or 30 years, it’s all Metro,” Silverwood said. “It’s all based around Metro. I think Seven Corners can benefit from that.”

The Silverwood Cos. acquired East Falls Apartments in 2009, roughly a decade after it was renovated by the previous owner with the assistance of low-income tax credits. The restrictions that come with the use of LITCs will prohibit the property’s redevelopment for 18 years, at a minimum.

It is for that reason, and the long-term leases that remain in Seven Corners’ retail centers, that the task force looked far into the future — 40 years, to be exact — to craft its plan for pedestrian-oriented developments, a transit-boulevard and a reengineered intersection.

Think about this way: The Seven Corners overhaul may not be complete until the intersection is 100 years old.

“None of this is close today,” Silverwood said, “but over time, if you stick to those horizons, habits will change to make it a more viable walking community.”