Updated 10:23 a.m. Tuesday, March 20, 2012
According to Toni Niece, vice presdent of marketing for Fuddruckers, the Annandale location will close in late April.
"We are really sad [about leaving], but we appreciate everyone's comments," said Niece. The company has been actively looking for another property and has not ruled out staying in the Annandale area.
"We would love to relocate. We're working diligently to find another site. We just haven't been able to. We love Annandale. We don't want to leave, but unfortunately, we have no choice," said Niece.
Fuddruckers opened at their Annandale location in August of 1985.
Original post 6 a.m. Monday, March 19, 2012
After more than 20 years in business, Fuddruckers will leave Annandale.
A Walgreens will replace the family-friendly restaurant once Fuddruckers' current lease expires.
According to Rona Kramer, who owns the property at 4300 Backlick Rd., Fuddruckers will close before the end of this year.
Representatives for Fuddruckers did not return repeated phone calls from Annandale Patch.
Kramer, a former Maryland Senator, declined to disclose specific details about the terms of Fuddruckers' lease, but said she believes Walgreens will fit in with the Annandale community.
"They're a good a company. I have no reason to believe otherwise," said Kramer, who added that there was a “great deal of interest” in the property while it was on the market.
Some business leaders in the Annandale community disagree with Kramer. Representatives from Walgreens were met with animosity during their presentation to the Annandale Central Business District Planning Committee meeting on Tuesday, March 13 outlining the company’s preliminary proposed site plan for the property.
“We’re losing our last big family restaurant. This is the place where kids go after soccer, football, and boys and girls clubs, so [Walgreens] is going to come in here and not be completely welcome… You can’t get a cheeseburger in Walgreens,” said Dan McKinnon, chairman of the Annandale Central Business District Planning Committee.
McKinnon said the community is concerned about a lack of balance in restaurants and services in Annandale; he pointed out there are already several pharmacies in Annandale, including the ones in grocery stores like Giant and Safeway and in Kmart. The 24-hour CVS on Little River Turnpike will be fewer than 500 feet from the new Walgreens.
“We’re a revitalization committee and we’re trying to improve Annandale. This is C-level retail,” said Vicki Burman, executive director of the Annandale Chamber of Commerce. “Annandale isn’t going to improve its retailing base by having a Walgreens. It is nothing we need or want.”
Walgreens filed their site plan within the last month, according to Lawrence Leber, president and CEO of Upshire Realty Advisors who was one of three representatives that spoke at Tuesday’s ACBDPC meeting. The company anticipates the approval process will take six months and they hope to break ground once the site plan’s approved. (See the site plans in the images attached to this article.)
The proposed plan for the property shows that the current Fuddruckers 8,000 square feet building will be demolished and replaced by a larger 12,000 square feet building to accommodate the Walgreens. There will be a drive-thru component and 50 parking spaces.
Robert Brown, an associate with Urban, Ltd., said Walgreens completed a traffic analysis with Fairfax County representatives and with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to determine the best way to control the traffic flow. The principal entrance for the store will be accessible from Little River Turnpike. The store will also keep the existing sidewalks on Columbia Pike and Backlick Road.
In a letter to the community dated March 8, 2012, Mason District Supervisor Penelope Gross said the property owned by Kramer and occupied by Fuddruckers is a by-right property, which means the underlying zoning category permits certain development without Planning Commission or Board of Supervisors’ approval.
Gross also said she was “disappointed in this change in use” regarding the site plan for Walgreens.
“The transfer of private property ownership or use is a private business decision, not subject to public input. Although I am disappointed in this change in use, there are benefits from reinvestment at this location. The applicant has agreed to implement improved pedestrian facilities in accordance with the Annandale Streetscape Design Guidelines. The number of entrances will be consolidated from the current five, down to three, greatly improving site access to this congested area of downtown Annandale. The applicant also will provide an increase in green open space and pervious surface on the redevelopment parcel, which currently is almost entirely paved." (Read the full letter in the images attached to this article.)
McKinnon and other members of the ACBDP committee urged the representatives to utilize more of the Annandale Streetscape Guidelines and work closely with the community if Walgreens expects to be welcomed by residents and other businesses.
“Until land owners are willing to come to us and help work with us to develop the kind of retail that Annandale wants, you can’t blame us for not wanting Walgreens,” said Burman.