What We Mean by “Fairfax”
For the purposes of this neighborhood guide, we are most definitely not talking about the entire county of more than 1.1 million people and 400 square miles. The places mentioned are all located within the City of Fairfax or have Fairfax mailing addresses.
Pardon Their Dust
The City of Fairfax—once known mostly for its historic downtown surrounded by strip malls and office parks—is in the midst of a building boom. Three major mixed-use projects are either approved or under construction: Scout on the Circle—anchored by a 54,000-square-foot Giant, with 400 apartments above retail—will begin to open next year. Across town, Fairfax Gateway—with 403 residences plus offices and shops—is slated to finish by December 2020. And permits have been submitted for the redevelopment of Paul VI High School into offices, shops, and hundreds of townhouses and condos. The city’s economic-development director, Chris Bruno, says the construction will help accommodate an anticipated influx of tech workers and younger residents.
Yes, HQ2 will be physically located in Crystal City. But a recent report from the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis shows that its effect on housing has already rippled into Fairfax County. The groups originally predicted the median home price there to increase by 3.1 percent by the end of 2019. Now they project a jump of about 7 percent thanks to Amazon. Meanwhile, the inventory of houses for sale in Fairfax is forecast to plummet by 10.2 percent by year’s end. The previously anticipated decline was just 2.4 percent.
Before Inova Schar Cancer Institute opened in May, patients had to bounce among as many as 11 outpatient clinics across Fairfax County. At the new $150-million facility, people can take care of multiple appointments in a single trip. The center, on the former site of ExxonMobil’s headquarters, primarily focuses on outpatient services—for instance, a sunlight-filled chemo-treatment lounge. It also has one of the region’s largest genetic-counseling programs, which tests DNA to determine cancer risk.
George Mason University president Ángel Cabrera—who has helmed the school since 2012, bolstering enrollment and its stature as a serious research university—will start in September as president of Georgia Tech. No word yet on a replacement for him at GMU.
The 2012 arrival of the Mosaic district helped launch a rebranding of an area formerly plagued by dated highway strip malls. Since then, the walkable mix of trendy shopping, dining, and apartments has had enough success that its developer, Edens, is planning a second phase with partner Retail Properties of America. The developers aim to convert Fairfax Plaza, a 1970s shopping center just up the street. The project’s completion is still years away.
Meanwhile at Mosaic 1.0 . . .
The development has undergone a lot of change recently, with more than a dozen new retailers moving in over the past year or announcing they’re on the way. Here are some highlights.
- Sundance—the catalog of earthy clothing and accessories—opened its second East Coast brick-and-mortar store in November.
- The first East Coast location of Erin Condren, which sells notebooks and stationery, opened in December.
- The DC nonprofit FreshFarm took over the weekly Mosaic Farmers Market in April and plans to expand the number and variety of vendors.
- A small-format Barnes & Noble opened in April.
- The MacMillan Whiskey Room arrived in May.
- Brothers Eric and Ian Hilton announced that a French bistro, Parc de Ville, will take over Mike Isabella’s shuttered Requin space this fall.
Something to Bark About
In Washington in 2019, you might think it would be impossible to find an entire city without a dog park. But that was the case in Fairfax until May, when its first-ever dog park debuted on the grounds of a former elementary school.
More new places to check out
Biltmore Design Galleria. Unlike the original location—a warehouse in Chantilly—this outpost of the kitchen, bath, and closet design store feels like a proper showroom. 10381 Main St.; 703-657-3303.
Commonwealth Dry Goods. A general store in Old Town Fairfax with locally sourced and independently produced snacks and gifts. 10409-C Main St.; 703-273-7800.
Mama Chang. Acclaimed Chinese chef Peter Chang showcases the excellent—and sometimes numbingly hot—recipes of his mother, wife, and daughter at his newest restaurant. 3251 Old Lee Hwy.; 703-268-5556.
Meokja Meokja. The long lines at this Korean barbecue joint are worth the wait to get marbled rib eye and inch-thick pork belly sizzling on your table grill. 9619 Fairfax Blvd.; 571-459-2875.