Revitalization Effort Grows

Revitalization Effort Grows

A new type of goggles that combats sleep deprivation is currently under development by one company in Springfield’s emerging bioinformatics incubator. Jerry Gordon, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority spokesperson, indicated that such a development can be an economic engine for the area. The goggles were a positive sign that technological advances were happening in the offices.

“The glasses have a chip in them,” Gordon said. “The incubator now has five companies.”

In Gordon’s vision, as the five companies grow, they'll need additional office space. This will help the tax base and take relief off the homeowners, who currently pay a substantial amount of the taxes in Springfield.

“Springfield is a net drain on the tax base,” Gordon said.

The incubator along with the Northern Virginia Community College will have an economic-growth ripple effect, spreading to central Springfield, he hoped.

“It has to happen around something," Gordon said. "Now we have the campus. It’s new office space that contributes to the tax base. The ultimate result is to generate sufficient demand so the private industry can start seeking more office space. It's like ripples spreading.”

The ripple effect was what the members of the Central Springfield Area Revitalization Committee (CSPARC) were interested in at their monthly meeting on Tuesday night. The group's original scope for revitalizing Springfield started around Commerce Street to the north. The plan encompasses both sides of Backlick Road to the Springfield-Franconia Parkway bridge over I-95 in the south. Although the group's original map, which resembles a golf tee, still remains the focus of the revitalization efforts, the transportation hub around the Metrorail station plays a role. Attracting the first major business to the Springfield area will be a substantial step, said Gordon.

“Once we get the first one, the others will come," Gordon said. "I would caution you, it’s not going to happen overnight."

SUPERVISOR DANA KAUFFMAN (D-Lee) looks at the transportation as an element that is already in place, not a growing asset.

“It’s a business-to-business marketing plan to basically reframe Springfield," Kauffman said. "We get out the key elements of the plan. Now it’s going to be one step at a time to fill in that plan,"

CPARC member Bob Gray realized that the first two years of CSPARC’s efforts concentrated on spreading the idea of revitalization and getting feedback from community members. Now the concept of a revitalized central Springfield, with pedestrian-friendly shopping and cultural activities, is slowly developing.

“It was a 2- to 10-year plan," Gray said. "It’s going to be on the long side. There certainly are positive things. Now we’re down to the ‘grind it out’ process."

“That comes one step at a time,” Kauffman added.

The steps taken so far in revitalization include the Courtyard Marriott on Commerce Street and the Extended Stay Marriott across the highway, which are envisioned as a gateway to Springfield. Other elements include the Trader Joe’s Grocery and the ornamental Veterans Bridge on Amherst Avenue. On the downside, vacant properties exist at the foot of that bridge, where Circuit City and Houlihan’s used to be.

“We’ve had a number of inquiries on both sites," Kauffman said. "There’s some aesthetics there that people like."

Bland Street, which parallels Commerce Street and crosses Amherst Avenue, needs to be widened in the future, Gray said.

“When we did the study for the downtown area, the transportation consultant indicated that was needed,” but not anytime soon due to funding, Kauffman said.