David Versel has big plans for the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation (SFDC) in 2012.
Versel was appointed executive director of the SFDC in November 2011. He was born and raised in Rockville and attended Washington University in St. Louis to study architecture. He earned his master’s degree in city planning at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
“I like to think I came in here without the baggage,” he said. “I’m have a fresh look on the corridor.”
After earning his master’s degree, Versel worked for Economic Research Associates in Washington, D.C. He was involved in many projects that reshaped downtown D.C. in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He also worked for the Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission as a Senior Planner from 2003-2005. In 2005, he founded his own consulting practice and maintained it until he returned to the D.C. area for his new position.
Six of the 12 current board members were new to the SFDC Board of Directors in 2011. New board members include Bruce Leonard of StreetSense, who was appointed by Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland, and at-large member Charles Huntley of Bowman Consulting.
“SFDC was already going in the right direction when I came in,” said Versel. “We have a lot of new blood and leadership on the board. What we have now is a board that knows revitalization and how to get it done.”
Versel wants the SFDC to increase its visibility in the Mount Vernon and Lee districts. The SFDC is knowledgeable about the Route 1 corridor and should share that knowledge with the community, said Versel.
“Our job is to broadcast [our knowledge] across the region and tell the story of the Route 1 corridor,” he said. “I want to get Route 1 on people’s agendas and get people to talk about [the corridor] positively.”
The value of land on the Route 1 corridor has attracted many landowners and to the area. The biggest challenge with revitalization isn’t the marketplace, but in finding the right site for developers to build on.
“The property you can acquire here is much cheaper,” said Versel. “There’s more value in redeveloping this land than in more expensive areas.”
As for the construction of hotels on Route 1, they only help the local economy, said Versel. “It’s interesting that it’s a hot button issue. Every hotel creates an economy. Tourists and business visitors bring millions of dollars to the area. The more hotels we get the better it is for the local economy.”
Versel's colleagues are optimistic about his future with SFDC.
"David's background in urban planning, economic and community development puts the SFDC in a position to be a go-to resource for bringing positive change to Richmond Highway," said Tony Fontana, former marketing manager of SFDC.