New Management at Gunston Plaza Has Tenants Hopeful
Businesses say they see improvements already
Merchants at Gunston Plaza are praising their new management company, saying they see improvements already after years of being ignored.
The center was bought last November by Madison Marquette for $28 million. Madison Marquette is an investor, developer and operator of retail and mixed-use real estate and is based in Washington, D.C.
The company has not returned phone calls from Lorton Patch, but several business owners say they have met with the new landlord and are pleased with what they are hearing and seeing so far.
“I am 100 percent happy” with the change in ownership, said Archie Zaro, a co-owner of the Polo Grill restaurant since 2008. In that time, Zaro said he never once saw anyone from the previous management company.
But already the new general manager has been to Polo Grill twice, and they have been quick to respond to its needs. For example, Zaro said he has always wanted an ash tray for outside and now he has one.
“They are trying to do everything now,” he said. “I am optimistic.”
The shopping center on Route 1 and Lorton Road was built in 1989 and is dated compared to the newer shopping centers that have sprung up with the development of Lorton in the last decade. It may not be deserved, but Gunston Plaza has a reputation of not being safe after dark.
The owner of Vinny’s Grill and Pizzeria said he believes the location has prevented his restaurant from drawing a dinner crowd. Hyung Choi said he never saw the previous managers and didn’t think they cared about the tenants. So far he has seen people cleaning up the plaza and is pleased.
“Keep it up,” Choi said.
The shopping center is anchored by Bloom, Gold’s Gym and Dollar Tree and is close to full occupancy. It also provides community services through a U.S. Post Office, Department of Motor Vehicles branch and the Lorton Senior Center, which is operated by Fairfax County. The site also includes an office building.
On its website, Madison Marquette touts Gunston Plaza’s proximity to Washington and Interstate 95 and “strategic location” off Route 1. The company notes that Lorton is experiencing “significant population growth” from the Base Realignment and Closure Act and will benefit from the construction of the INOVA Healthplex less than a mile away.
The director of the Lorton Senior Center said she’s happy with what she’s seen so far. Anne Miller said the new managers have been receptive to the center’s concerns about safety in the parking lot, things like crosswalks and cut throughs. She also is pleased to see private security patrolling the lot.
“They’ve communicated well with us,” Miller said, adding that the center’s clients love the mix of services available in Gunston Plaza, although she does wish they would add a hardware store.
More praise comes from Joe Harrison, one of the owners of Gold’s Gym, which opened in 2002.
“They’ve done a good job of cleaning up the shopping center,” Harrison said. “We are very happy so far.”
Safety is a big concern for the gym, which is open from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Harrison said safety has never been a problem but he is pleased to see stepped-up security.
Harrison said there had been “concerns and challenges” with the previous owner but he declined to elaborate, saying he’d rather look to the future.
“It’s a great relationship so far,” he said.