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East Bound?

County receives 13 proposals for new government center.

Under the 13 proposals received by the county, the new government center could move as far east as Route 28. It could become part of two major development projects. It could even become part of Battlefield Park outside of Leesburg. While the county seat will remain in Leesburg, where the court system is housed, residents could find themselves heading to a new part of the county for Board of Supervisors meetings, public hearings, to pay their taxes, or review land documents.

"We are at the demographic center of the county," Mike Scott, managing member of Kincora, who proposed a site at the northwest corner of their property, said. "We thought it made a lot of sense."

FIVE OF THE 13 proposals would leave the county government center in Leesburg. Epic Development is proposing a 53-acre site next to the Route 15 bypass. LeeGate proposed putting a government center as part of its 126-acre proposal that would allow for 800,000 square feet of retail and 200 condominiums. KSI Services Inc. also proposed the new government center as a part of its Village at Leesburg, which is currently under development. Keane Enterprises included the center in its 165-acre mixed-use project located at the interchange of the Dulles Greenway and Battlefield Parkway. Jordan Land Design's proposal places the government center on Sycolin Road, adjacent to the county's government support center.

In addition to the Kincora proposal, which would sit on a 42-acre site and be built in two phases, Lerner Enterprises, developer of the Dulles Town Center, proposed making the government center part of the town center. Miller and Smith, developers of the recently approved One Loudoun mixed-use center, also submitted a proposal to make the center part of its development.

"We were within the corridor of their desired sites," Scott said. "We were called by the county and asked to submit a proposal."

With proposals linked to pending land-use applications, there has been no indication that the proposed government centers would have any bearing on the approval of the applications. Scott said that the office use zoning the government center would need is a by-right use on its site, so Kincora developer NA Dulles Real Estate Investors could move forward with the proposal no matter what happens with the rezoning application.

"It really fits with our overall development," Scott said.

THE EXISTING county government center at 1 Harrison St. in Leesburg has been open for 12 years, but County Administrator Kirby Bowers said that the government is quickly growing out of its existing space, forcing the county to rent spaces for some departments.

"There are many departments that are feeling the pinch and have for quite some time," he said.

According to statistics provided to the Board of Supervisors, the county owns four different buildings that house county government employees, not including public safety offices and the judicial buildings. In addition, the county rents 11 spaces for county government offices. Among those rented spaces is the 11,500-square-foot facility for the public library, which costs the county $276,609 annually, and two separate facilities for mental health, mental retardation and substance abuse, which cost the county more than $796,000 annually.

Total, leased space cost the county $4,041,099 in fiscal year 2007 and 631 county employees work out of rented space during that same time.

While Bowers said there is no way to know which departments will come under the new facility's roof or how the center will be laid out, he said there is a lot of space planning going on within the government.

"We are asking a lot of questions," he said. "Not the least of which is, 'What do you think your space modeling is going to be in 10 years?' Just because someone needs space now, doesn't mean that will be true 10 years from now."

NOW THAT THE county has received the 13 proposals, the real work begins, Tina Borger, the county's procurement manager, said.

"We were shocked to get 13," she said. "To get through each one, to give each one a thorough evaluation takes time."

The next step is to meet with the county's evaluation team to discuss each proposal. Borger said she expects the review process to take approximately 10 weeks. After which, the team will select proposals to go into what is known as the detailed phase.

"The law requires that we take at least two proposals to the detailed phase," she said.

In the second phase, the selected proposals will be evaluated by staff, who will then make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors. It will be up to the board to make the final decision on the new government center, Borger said, but there is no way to know whether the decision will be made by the current board in its final months or the board sitting after the November elections.

"The amount of time that takes depends on the number of proposals that are selected," Borger said.