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Here's the Scoop on the New Shelter

The Katherine K. Hanley Family Shelter will be the fourth such facility in Fairfax County — and the first in its western part. It will predominantly serve single mothers with children, mainly elementary-school age and younger.

It will arise on 5.7 acres just west of Meadows Farms Nursery in Centreville, between the Hampton Forest and Stringfellow Road intersections on Route 29. And it should be ready for occupancy in summer 2007.

The 16,931-square-foot shelter will be mostly two stories, with a residential appearance to blend in with its neighborhood. It's planned to house up to 20 families — 60 people total.

The two-story wing will contain bedrooms, with two bedrooms on each floor. The living room and dining room will face the back where the outdoor play area will be. The part of the building that's 1 1/2 stories will be toward Route 29 and will provide spaces for offices and classes upstairs.

The shelter will have a brick entrance and base, plus siding, and a shingled roof. In the rear, facing west on the site, will be a playground and outdoor sitting area. The Alexandria firm of Wisnewski, Blair & Associates Ltd. designed the building.

As part of the project, the county will construct a pedestrian trail along the shelter's property frontage on Route 29. It will also build the two missing sections of the trail system between the shelter and Stringfellow Road.

Entry will be via a service-road stub coming from the adjacent Estates of Fairfax subdivision built by Equity Homes. And there'll be a loop for cars, school buses and trucks, plus 42 parking spaces.

A pair of two-story, transitional housing units — each 3,000 square feet and serving three families — is planned for the future. These buildings will have shingle roofs and siding with brick accents to fit in with nearby homes and will be behind the shelter. So far, though, they're only partially funded.

Carey Needham, chief of the Department of Public Works' Building-Design Branch, said roughly $2 million will be required to design and construct them. "Right now, approximately $400,000 is available from approved county sources for the design phase," he said Tuesday. "The county has identified about $1.6 million more that will be needed [for construction], but it's not been allocated at this time."

Meanwhile, said Needham, the county is continuing to evaluate opportunities for a public/private partnership approach to developing these transitional housing units. "We've had discussions with a nonprofit group that, presumably, could do it for the county more cost-effectively than a for-profit entity could," he said. But to date, nothing's been finalized.

However, the county does have the approximately $6.6 million it needs to construct the shelter, itself, courtesy of its own General Fund and previous budget carry-over, the Housing Trust Fund and a $1 million proffer from a Tysons Corner developer, The West Group.

Fairfax County's three existing family shelters are in the northern, southern and eastern parts of the county — with 60-70 families on the waiting list, at all times — so a shelter in western Fairfax is sorely needed. And now, at long last, it's finally underway.