The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has begun exploring the revitalization of the Original Mount Vernon High School (OMVHS), a 10.6 acre building facility and its 30 acres of athletic fields.
During a recent tour of the historic school, Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck envisions interim use of a portion of the facility as a South County Teen Center and Pre K education center.
Built in 1939, the OMVHS first served as the area’s high school for many years before demographic changes in the area forced the School Board to close it. Years later the School Board eventually transferred ownership and responsibility of the facility to the Board of Supervisors which in turn leased it beginning in 1989 to the Islamic Saudi Academy. The lease continued until June of this year when the Islamic Academy and the board ended their lease relationship.
Now, the supervisors are poised to redevelop it as a mixed use community center. During his familiarization tour with the county planning staff, Storck said, “In my view it will serve as the centerpiece for our future neighborhood and community needs.”
Deputy County Executive Rob Stalzer will conduct a planning meeting involving more than seven county departments and independent agencies. They will set in motion a multi-year effort to revitalize the facility for interim as well as long-term uses for both nonprofit and for-profit organizations that will most likely require changes in the Comprehensive Plan, zoning, as well as coordination with the Park Authority and the Neighborhood and Community Services Department.
At the same time, Storck will form an OMVHS Steering Committee to begin advising him and communicating with the community. He will also coordinate with Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay who has voiced strong interest In continuing to participate in the planning for the redevelopment of the facility and grounds.
“Planning the future use of the OMVHS presents a tremendous opportunity for further investment in the Richmond Highway Corridor,” McKay said. “I was pleased to help secure more than $1milliion in this year’s Fairfax County budget to begin to revitalize the building. This will begin to help finance the much-needed work to revitalize the building. I am confident that my office, Supervisor Storck’s Office and the community will work hand in hand to accomplish the momentous task of transforming the building into an asset for all of the south county region.”
Storck also supported the $1 million budget targeted for use to revitalize the OMVHS.
The short-term goal is to bring the aging building up to current building code standards in order to immediately provide a teen center and a pre K education service. Both services are not available in the immediate area at the present time. The school’s gym and an annex will house the teen center and pre K functions. County staff did not commit to a specific date for opening the teen center and pre K functions, but Storck assured that “every effort will be made to provide these services as soon as possible.”
In anticipation of the time when the Islamic Saudi Academy lease would end, former Supervisor Gerald Hyland’s Visioning Task Force completed a report which recommended interim and long-term uses of the school. Storck readily acknowledged they did a good job and he is now working with the report, community leaders, and McKay to form a present day Steering Committee to plan and develop the interim and long-term uses.
Interview with Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck during the tour of the building:
Q. What are the long-term implications of the revitalization of the OMVHS?
A. “The availability of this gigantic building and grounds couldn’t have come about at a better time. This iconic historic school is very important to solving the needs of a rapidly growing population in the Richmond Highway Corridor. Successfully completing the revitalization of the building and grounds will return benefits and services to the neighborhoods in the region for educational, recreational, and business uses. I am totally committed for the long term to working with Supervisor McKay, my colleagues on the board, and the region’s community leaders to realize a major revitalization and renewal. However, we still have many years of public engagement, planning, capital investments and hard work to complete before the full benefits can be realized. The plans envisioned for the school are reflective of the renewal that is going on throughout the Richmond Highway Corridor from our North Gateway through Fort Belvoir to the current adaptive reuse of the former Lorton Prison site. I am very excited about and committed to balancing this school’s heritage with the new opportunities and development as the community proposes.”
Q. Have you selected an OMVHS Steering Committee ? If so, who are they?
A. “I will name the new OMVHS Steering Committee soon. I have asked Supervisor McKay to submit names of Lee District community leaders who he wants to serve along with the Mount Vernon District appointees.”
Q. Who will be managing the building and property now?
A. “ The county staff will be managing the property. Eventually, I will be looking for financing from private organizations that will be using the space, and funding from the county that has been or will be set aside in the budget to ensure proper maintenance of the building. In the near future we will be looking at public-private partnerships and investments that would enable the building to reach its full potential as a community and entrepreneurial hub.”
Location: 8333 Richmond Highway, Alexandria, VA 22309
Built: In 1939
Building Size: 150,000 square feet
Area size/building facility is located on 10.6 acres. The entire campus, including all property owned by both the Board of Supervisors and Park Authority encompasses 40 acres. Soccer, football, baseball fields are all possible on this property and will be evaluated and implemented by the Department of Neighborhood and Community Services for use during the interim period.
According to Heather Diez, project manager, Fairfax County planning staff: “The goal of the repurposing of the OMVHS project is to create a unique place to serve community needs, improve services available to residents of the Richmond highway corridor, and integrate a mix of uses to support revitalization in the Mount Vernon and Lee Districts. The current zoning allows for the described interim uses. Building code evaluation and upgrading has to be completed. The overall long range planning for the building and site will continue, including community engagement with any necessary comprehensive plan changes and zoning actions.”
Community uses operating immediately adjacent to the OMVHS building and grounds:
- Progreso Center for Literacy and Citizenship serves the community instructing English as a Second Language (ESL), and provides classroom instruction for students to enable them to pass a citizenship qualification exam.
4100 Mohawk Lane
Alexandria, VA 22309
- Brain Injury Services: Adult education, counseling, rehabilitation. Services for those who have suffered from traumatic brain injury due to stroke, car accidents, falls, or for other reasons.
Kim Baugh, Clubhouse Manager
Brain Injury Services
4100 Mohawk Lane
Alexandria, VA 22309
Historical Note: The Mount Vernon community has a long history of revitalization and renewal of public school facilities. Due to declining enrollments in the past, the Mount Vernon District has experience in converting closed public school facilities to community uses supported by the community. The Hollin Hills elementary school was closed in the late ‘70s and, once the plumbing features were revised, it was sold and converted as a senior citizens assisted living center, entitled the Paul Spring Retirement Center. At the same time the Hollin Hall elementary school was closed, the School Board transferred the surrounding property to the Park Authority under a 99-year lease agreement, and the building facility was transferred to the Board of Supervisors. The building, which is now the Hollin Hall Community Center, has been and continues to be managed by the county and used for child care services and a senior citizens recreational center.
Supervisor Dan Storck
Mike Lambert, Assistant Director, Real Estate Management Services
Facilities Management Department
Heather Diez, Project Manager
Fairfax County Public-Private Investments and Partnerships Department