Falls Church to Offer 10 Acres of Land In Exchange for New Schools
The City of Falls Church is sitting on some prime real estate, and it's using it as leverage to build a new high school and expanded middle school. On July 30, Falls Church plans on releasing an RFP for developers to build a new George Mason High School for 1,500 students and a 400-seat expansion to Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School next door. Adjacent to the school buildings is a 10-acre parcel, less than a half-mile from the West Falls Church Metro. Whichever developer submits the winning bid will likely have a ground lease on the land to build a commercial development, possibly a mixed-use property with ground-floor retail below residential. The School Board, led by its chair, Justin Castillo, plans to set a proposal deadline of October 2015 and to make a final decision in June 2016.
For the available parcel, the city wants proposals that feature "exemplary design," place-making amenities—think fountains, trails, benches and the like—have multiple modes of transportation and are environmentally sustainable. Falls Church wants the new schools to be ready for the 2019 school year, but that's not a hard deadline yet. The parcel should draw a fair amount of interest: it's on Leesburg Pike, close to 66, walkable to a Metro stop and within a mile or so of a Whole Foods and a Trader Joe's. The draft RFP, acquired by Bisnow, says the city is willing to rezone the property to sweeten the deal.