Eden Center Entrance
|Location||Falls Church, Virginia, United States|
|Address||6751 Wilson Blvd|
|Owner||Capital Commercial Properties, Inc.|
|No. of stores and services||120+|
|Total retail floor area||200,000 sq ft (19,000 m2)|
|No. of floors||2, split level with most businesses in front and some in back adjacent to a Planet Fitness gym|
Eden Center is a Vietnamese American strip mall located near the crossroads of Seven Corners in the City of Falls Church, Virginia. The City's Economic Development commission considers it the #1 Tourist Destination in the City. The center is home to 120+ shops, restaurants and businesses catering extensively to the Asian American, especially the Vietnamese-American, population. Eden Center has created an anchor for Vietnamese culture serving the Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, and Pennsylvania areas, as evidenced by the large number of phở soup restaurants, bánh mì delicatessens, bakeries, markets, as well as Vietnamese-American cultural events that are regularly held at the Center. Eden Center is the largest Vietnamese commercial center on the East Coast, and the largest Asian-themed mall on the east coast of North America.
The center opened in 1962 as the Plaza Seven Shopping Center, with a Grand Union supermarket and a Zayre discount store serving as anchors.  After the Grand Union store closed in 1984, Vietnamese merchants displaced from the "Little Saigon" area in the Clarendon neighborhood of nearby Arlington, Virginia, due to Washington Metro subway construction and redevelopment moved into the space, as the Vietnamese-American community in Northern Virginia (and the Washington, DC, metropolitan area) grew following the Vietnam War. The name derives from the 1960s Saigon arcade Khu Eden; the cluster of stores took on the Eden name, and it ultimately evolved into the name for the entire center. The landlord, Capital Commercial Properties, later added a clock tower and an arch flanked by lions, inspired by the Bến Thành Market in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Most businesses are located on ground level and offer direct access to the sidewalk and parking lot, as would a conventional strip mall. Additionally, approximately 65 stores and restaurants are contained inside three enclosed malls. In the rear of the mall are located two businesses, including a nightclub and Planet Fitness gym.
Parking is contained largely in the front, with approximately 900 spaces. Parking in the rear of businesses number an additional 300 spaces. At all times, a South Vietnamese Flag flies proudly above the mall, as is common with many Vietnamese-owned businesses in the Washington, D.C., area.
A 44,000 square foot Good Fortune supermarket opened in November 2014. A variety of business types exist within Eden Center, a few of which incorporate "Eden" into the name of the business. Most businesses are food-related, either as restaurants, supermarkets and specialty delicatessens catering prepared foods. A high percentage of the businesses in the mall are restaurants, specifically Vietnamese restaurants, specializing in various levels of formality and in various aspects of Vietnamese cuisine. These range from carry-out-only places that serve stir-fry dishes and spring rolls to high-volume phở soup restaurants to sit-down restaurants with large varied menus and a formal decor. Other business types exist, including jewelry stores, herbal medicine shops, clothing and toy stores and travel agents, though these are less numerous.
Each September the Eden Center plays host to the annual "Miss Vietnam DC" scholarship pageant, the preeminent contest of its kind in the Washington DC area.
A number of crimes have plagued the Eden Center in its nearly thirty years of operation. As a result, swift police investigations have ensued, and deficiencies in security have been addressed.
In 1997, after a fatal shooting, the Falls Church Police Department opened a substation at Eden Center. The property landlord also began operating 48 closed-circuit monitoring cameras.
On August 11, 2011, law enforcement consisting of federal, Virginia State and local police jointly raided several businesses in Eden Center, seizing more than $1 million in cash from one business, and small amounts from other businesses. Also seized were several gambling machines and arrested 19 people on suspicion of gambling and alcohol crimes. Police blamed the Dragon Family gang, a Vietnamese-American criminal gang that operates in Asian-American hubs across North America. No felony charges were ever filed, and ultimately, though some defendants pleaded guilty, many had their cases dismissed prior to trial and tensions were ignited between the Eden Center businesses and the City of Falls Church government. At least one defendant went to trial and was found not guilty of the charges. Those tensions continued when a second raid was conducted only 5 months later, and suspects were arrested on a variety of gambling and money laundering charges, with many in the community alleging racism and poor investigation on the part of the police.
On January 19, 2009, an episode of the show, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, which was focused on the Washington, DC area, showcased the Eden Center. In particular, Bourdain visited the Song Que deli, and had a very favorable review of both that business and of the Eden Center. Many other reviews of Eden Center restaurants have been published in The Washington Post, Washingtonian Magazine, and the Falls Church News Press.
- Falls Church EDC Presentation on official City Website Archived 2010-05-27 at the Wayback Machine
- Frazier, John W.; Eugene Tettey-Fio (2006). Race, Ethnicity, and Place in a Changing America. Global Academic Publishing. p. 283. ISBN 1-58684-264-1.
- Zeng, Amy (2013-01-25). "Secret Menus in Plain Sight". IGN. Retrieved 2013-08-22.
- Blitz, Matt (February 25, 2019). "This Is How The Eden Center Became A Hub For Vietnamese In Virginia". WAMU. Retrieved 2019-07-21.
- Falls Church Targets Crime at Shopping Center
- Wu, June Q. (2011-08-12). "Police raid Falls Church cafes, say Dragon Family gang ran illegal gambling ring". Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-08-22.
- Bromley, George (2011-09-15). "Eden Center Raid Controversy Continues; Charges Against Four Suspects Dismissed, One Acquitted". Falls Church Times. Retrieved 2013-08-22.
- "2nd Illegal Gambling Bust in Eden Center". NBC4 Washington. 2012-02-04. Retrieved 2013-08-22.[permanent dead link]
- "Songquedeli.com". Archived from the original on 2013-10-21. Retrieved 2013-08-22.
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