I want to start off by saying that I read Mr. TheTysonsCorner’s initial review of the district and already had some opinions about how the development is turning out. However, visiting the site opened my eyes on the future of this area and how it will develop over many years. I will say that this development will forever change Merrifield in a good way. Without further ado, I present my review and opinions of the Mosaic District:
My first impression of the area came by driving southbound on Gallows Road. The district seemed very out of touch with the rest of the area. Keep in mind that it is not a negative in any way. I feel like this area needs a change and this will be perfect. Hopefully the property owners and developers in the surrounding areas cash in on this opportunity for smart growth and new urbanism. Yes, this will be a perfect case study for new urbanism near a metro station, and I feel like Tysons Corner can learn something already about land use in the Mosaic District.
I will say that I drove over there for Chipotle. Yes, it was very good, and yes I did drive. The feeling of the area was very ‘town-like’ and I think that with multiple restaurants, it will become a small destination but more so it will pull people into wanting to live there.
Many people will get their first glimpse of the district once Target opens but I am glad I made my way over before there was any foot or vehicle traffic. It will be good to see many people hopefully walking around in October after the opening. Are there any other 4-story Targets in urban areas in America? It makes sense why there is so much parking. But the best thing is that it doesn’t take away from the modern look of the buildings. The parking garages are of high quality, and so are all the other building materials of the site, like Mr. TheTysonsCorner pointed out.
I noticed, so many times as I was walking, the radio broadcast tower. I hope to GOD that it gets moved. It is a terrible reminder of the suburban mess of the area. But it may just be me that can’t stand to look at it.
I liked the small green space near the theater. It will hopefully be utilized by some that pass by. Green is always good to not feel like you are in an urban jungle and this doesn’t sacrifice much space for density, which will be rather high for the area.
Lastly, I want to talk about transportation (as I am a transportation engineer). The grid layout is something I can only dream about for mobility around the district, for both pedestrians and vehicles. I am disappointed about the access to the Dunn Loring Metro due to the immense cross-section of Lee Highway (Rt 29, Rt 237). It was widened to many possible lanes, but I could not confirm this past weekend because striping was not added and there were cones to limit the openness temporarily. I hope that Gallows Rd sidewalks will be upgraded and will have good markings to and from the metro station. Possibly even a dedicated shuttle type of bus, but I doubt it would be for anyone other than residents (better than nothing).
In conclusion, this area has huge potential because of some less than stellar land uses (garden center) and I think this will be the cornerstone for an amazing natural town center that will be geared towards residents and pedestrians and not feel fake.
This is my first ever review of, well, anything. Comments appreciated!