City to Sell Century-Old House at Madison Park

pendletonThe City of Falls Church is now accepting bids on the century-old Pendleton House, a detached single-family residence at Madison Park

According to F.C. Recreation and Parks Director Howard Herman, the house is being sold because the city has no current use for it. In its most recent incarnation, it served as a group home through the Fairfax County Services Board, but it has sat vacant for a year and a half.

“They moved out of the house because they had an aging population in the facility that was no longer able to handle the stairs and the lack of accessibility in the house,” Herman said.

When the house was vacated, the city studied its options and the state of the facility and determined that it was not suitable for public use, but remained concerned for the upkeep of the house, which was built in 1885 and is protected under the city’s Historic and Cultural Conservation District Ordinance.

“We determined that the best way to preserve it, because it is an historic house, was to go ahead and put it on the market, sell it, and see what the city could get in return for the house,” Herman said. “By selling it, I’d like to think it’s a better way of guaranteeing the preservation of the house.”

The city has owned the house since 1974, when it was purchased as part of empty space surrounding what was at that time Madison Elementary School. Since then, the school was torn down and the open space was developed into Madison Park, the property upon which the house now sits.

The house’s location poses some problems in determining its value. As it has been considered part of Madison Park, it was last assessed as part of the park, at three acres assessed at more than $2 million.

For the sale of the house, however, Herman said it will be divided from the park and onto its own 11,250-square-foot parcel of land. As for the value of the house and its new lot boundaries, Herman said the city will let bidders decide.

“I wouldn’t even venture a guess,” Herman said. “There are million-and-up homes in the neighborhood, but also many of those are recently renovated or in much better shape than this house.” Herman added, however, that the house is in a “nice neighborhood” and will benefit from having the park to its side and back.

Herman said that the city has not received any bids on the house yet, but that the four-bedroom, three-bath, 2,200 square-foot home has generated some interest in the form of phone calls and tours.

Those interested in seeing the home are invited to call the Recreation and Parks Department to schedule a tour. If potential buyers wish to put in a bid, their bid can be made in the form of a letter to the city stating their desire along with a price for the house, or a formal contract. Bids are due no later than 5 p.m. on March 4.

“The highest bidder at that point will be contacted and a formal contract drawn up and executed as quickly as possible,” Herman said. “And from there, we’ll just go through the subdivision and closing process that a normal real estate process would go through.”

Herman said that while the home buyer would be purchasing the house from the city instead of from a private entity, the process will be much the same except for one factor: A final OK from City Council. Before the highest bidder can purchase the house, the bid must be submitted to the Planning Commission, which will make a recommendation to the Council, which will then have the final say on the matter.

“The city is under no obligation to accept any bid,” Herman said. “The city has the right to start the process over again, and that’s likely what would happen if the bids that come in are below an acceptable level.”

If the highest bidder should back out of the sale, the second highest bid will be processed.

The city is no stranger to owning and selling residential homes. This process was used a little over a year ago when the city sold property at 115 S. Lee St. The city also currently owns the Miller House, a vacant property on North Washington Street.

The Pendleton House is located at 114 East Columbia St., Falls Church. For more information, contact the Recreation and Parks Department at 703-248-5027.