On Wednesday, October 25, 2017, at the most recent school board candidate forum, candidate Alison Kutchma mentioned 1000 apartments. In her remarks outlining her reasons for not supporting the $120 million bond referendum, she stated, among other reasons, that many in the community were not in favor of adding 1000 apartments to the Falls Church community on this site.
One attendee was surprised to hear about this proposal which only serves to underscore the need to give the community more time to discuss not only the options for the use of this land, but all aspects of what this referendum means for our community. Many voters are still seeking even the most basic information about this proposal.
The roughly 1000 units, as part of the proposed land was a component of the strategic roadmap by Alvarez & Marsal. The business management firm was hired by the city to determine what type of development would be best suited for this area of land.
The page below, as part of the Alvarez & Marsal strategic roadmap document (page 6) includes a line that suggests “leveraging synergies with…middle and high school families,” an effort that would certainly attract school age students to the proposed apartments adding to the overcrowding we now face and are trying to expand our facilities out of.
The city also provided details of the proposed development at the GMHS meeting on September 10, 2017 outlining the estimated 964 apartments, a hotel, retail and office space.
Yep, and don’t forget, these 1,000 apartments come on top of 700 more new apartments that are slated for Founder’s Row and Broad & Lee MUDs.
So can we assume 2 people per apartment (probably more) so that’s adding at least 3400 more people to our area? Broad street cannot be widened and traffic will be horrendous. All of our schools will have to be expanded. Is this what people want?
I am only voting for one Schoolboard candidate (Kutchma) because this city is screwed if she doesn’t get elected. Don’t dilute the vote, vote only for Kutchma.
Same. She is the only one with enough sense to see the risks here. The others are drinking koolaid.
I am voting for her. All of the others represent business as usual. Very little difference between any of them. At least get one new voice with a different viewpoint on the school board.
My personal vote on the bond will be a no which is a reflection of how I like to manage my finances which is to have all my ducks in a row before I sign on the dotted line. However there is more.
1) I think $120 million is too big an ask for a community of our size. I think we can build a new school for a lot less.
2) The revenue side of this equation is still an unknown.
3) 1000 residential units have been proposed and I personally do not think that is what our community needs. It will contribute to our already overcrowded schools.
4) The community feels it has not weighed in on the use of the land. They should have this opportunity before the vote not after.
5) And last but certainly not least, serious financial management and construction project oversight measures are needed from our school board and I currently do not see that. I have concerns as to how a $15 million dollar construction project is managed so until those issues are addressed, as a citizen I am not comfortable saying yes.
Part of my proposal for better financial oversight from our school board to have the school board create subcommittees. I would propose subcommittees such as Budget and Finance and Facilities and Construction so the board can have the opportunity to review financial items and information monthly. I also believe in addition to substantive monthly construction updates that include associated financial information, I believe the board needs to add a permanent addition to the agenda titled Financial Updates where spending and expenses are reviewed and updates provided.
I believe the greatest responsibility of our school board is holding the Superintendent responsible and accountable for the money that is spent. Spending needs to be tied to educational outcomes and we need to all be able to see where our money goes. The most important thing we do happens in the classroom and for that we need resources. Let’s manage those resources better!!
re: UVa Center. I believe UVa is largely abandoning the Haycock Rd site in favor of another location, possibly Virginia Sq. Not GMU but UVa.
Well, the way the UVA/VA Tech Grad Center development occurred should have generated a long list of lessons learned for the City, but apparently it did not. History repeating itself – some of the same mistakes all over again.
That’s right. Forgot about that. Add that one to the Mount Daniel fiasco plus others. Don’t we have an incumbent or two who have been involved in these who proclaim themselves in their campaign literature as trusted and proven leaders?
And isn’t there talk of doing an additional deal with uva/va tech?
Can you elaborate on what happened with the UVA/VT development? It was before my time.
The deal dates to the mid 1990’s, so details are not easily found online. The Grad Center sits on City-owned land, portions of which were the site of the property yard. It had a vintage barn and, get ready for this, community garden plots. The Grad Center is leasing the land for ONE dollar a year for 25 years. So we lost a valuable resource – land, right next to our school – which is never coming back.
The site is still within Fairfax County – the recent boundary adjustments excluded this parcel. Why?
The lease is a 40 year lease for $1 per year beginning in 1995 and expiring in 2035. U Va/Va Tech have an option to purchase starting in 2021 (26th year) for $3,350,000 minus a $500,000 credit. The purchase price increases by 3.6% each year after 2021. The property is restricted to educational or government use. U Va/Va Tech can sublet to another Virginia institute of higher education. If U Va/Va Tech purchases the property and then sells to a 3rd party after purchase the City gets 33% of the adjustable value.
The City acquired the Whittier school site from Fairfax around the same time (1995). The Whittier site was tied into the property next to the high school, but I’m not clear on the specifics of that tie in. The old Whittier school was torn down and residential townhouses and a Marriott hotel were constructed on the Whittier site.
So conceptually, if we needed more educational space, we could negotiate with UVA/VA Tech to either take over the lease for $1 or some other financial deal that would be mutually acceptable. This appears to be a great idea considering the need for educational space for our growing community and providing that space for a great price. Why hasn’t this been done as part of the “study for a new school?”
This is why we need more time to look at creative options. I guess we need to ask City Council and the City Manager the details of Whittier and how that is tied to the UVA/VTech property.
Great information and time to get some answers. Thank you.
John, Thank you for the information. So many more questions and perhaps someone in the City can answer: What happens at the end of the lease (which should be soon if it happened in the 90s. Is the lease now with Fairfax County or with Falls Church City? Is it a situation like Mt. Daniel where Fairfax owns the land but we could use the structure? Lastly, why was this not looked at in detail to see if something could be arranged so we can use it for schools?