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Votes

Medical Research Facility to Be Built

Supervisor James Burton wants the Manor House to “remain special” to Loudoun, as he told representatives from Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the Nov. 18 Board of Supervisors meeting.

The nonprofit medical research institute plans to build its first research facility on Janelia Farm close to its home office in Chevy Chase, Md., and the Washington Dulles International Airport.

“This piece of property … has always been a special piece of property,” said Burton (I-Mercer), referring to the 281-acre site near Route 7 and Janelia Farm Boulevard, bordered by the highway and the Potomac River. The Manor House, built in 1928, sits on the Ashburn site.

“We have a user coming in that’s implementing our vision,” said board chairman Scott York (R-At large), referring to the county’s 20-year vision as outlined in the Revised Comprehensive Plan.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute plans to build a 720,000-square-foot biomedical research facility and training center with offices, laboratories, housing for visiting scientists and supportive service facilities, along with a conference center. The Janelia Farm Research Campus is scheduled for completion in 2006, with a groundbreaking scheduled next month.

“Janelia Farm advances Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s commitment to biomedical research,” said Tom Cech, institute president.

THE INSTITUTE PLANS to create a research community at Janelia Farm consisting of teams of scientists with chemists, physicists, biologists and computer scientists, disciplines necessary for modern biology, said institute officials. The institute’s permanent staff will collaborate with visiting researchers on applied research.

“We want a unique research environment,” said Gerry Rubin, vice president for planning for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, adding that the environment is intended to foster creativity and innovation.

“The idea is to get scientists as close to nature [as possible],” said Jay Bargmann, architect for Rafael Vinoly, the firm that designed the institute. “Everything is open to create interaction and a sense of community.”

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute was founded in 1953 and is supported through a $10 billion endowment, used to fund biomedical research and science education. The institute’s staff of 3,000 people has 329 investigators and works at 69 universities, medical centers and research institutes across the nation.

“This is the biggest thing to happen in Loudoun County in a long time,” said Randy Collins, president of the Chamber of Commerce. “It’s going to put us on the map all over the world. They won’t be the largest employer, but they’ll be a major employer that buys a lot of products and services. … Hopefully this will trickle down locally.”

IN OTHER BUSINESS, the Board of Supervisors:

* Approved the issuance of $550 million in private activity bonds through the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Farm Research Campus. The bonds, which will be paid off through revenues earned by the institute, will be used to finance the acquisition and construction of the facility.

“The county has no obligation for repayment of bonds,” said county administrator Kirby Bowers.

The IDA made its approval through an Oct. 24 resolution, but federal law requires the local governing body to also approve the bond issuance. The IDA also does not have any financial responsibility for the bonds.

* Tabled discussion on building a parking garage at the Route 772 rail station, which will be used as a commuter stop for the proposed Rail to Dulles project.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) conducted an analysis of parking demand for the rail line and estimated the demand to be 3,300 spaces. The estimate will be used as a basis for funding eligibility. The county plans to request funds from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (VDRPT).

“I’m concerned we’re not providing enough for our commuters,” said York, who favors building a garage with 4,400 spaces. “I want to ensure we’re providing ample opportunity to get commuters off the road and onto rail. We need to provide adequate parking for that.”

York asked staff to gather analysis and statistics to present at the next board meeting.

SUPERVISOR Drew Hiatt (R-Dulles) announced he will not be running for another term in order to spend more time with his family.

“This has been a terrific opportunity and privilege to represent citizens,” Hiatt said. “When we serve others … we develop in ourselves the capacity to love people. I love you all up here, even though I disagree with you vehemently at times.”

Hiatt said, “We decided as a family I would not seek re-election. … My desire to see my children grow up and to be a full-time father to them is an opportunity I can’t miss.”