Working past midnight Monday, the Falls Church City Council and School Board worked to within sight of a final version of language for its “request for conceptual proposal,” or RFP, to go out to the development world next month for development of the almost 40 acres of land annexed to the City as a component of its deal to sell its water system to Fairfax County last year.
The joint work session with the City’s School Board went from 7:30 p.m. to past midnight, including a three-hour closed session, and while the language for the final product remained wanting, it was within striking range of being satisfactory to all parties involved, and a better, perhaps final version should be ready for the City Council’s official vote next Monday night, and the School Board’s OK the next night to be put out to the world by the end of next week July 31.
From that point, a year-long vetting process will ensue to select a final candidate to build out the site, including its more than 10 acres of commercial development. The final points of modest contention were over language for the commercial development section, with Council member Nader Baroukh, on the one hand, wanting to ensure that the language called for major components of office, hotel and retail, and Councilmen Dan Sze cautioning that the largest building in Arlington, an all-commercial office building in Rosslyn, remains completely vacant because the office market is significantly overbuilt for the region at this point.
All sides agreed to the need for language in the RFP to include both a renovation and a complete demolition and rebuild of the new high school for the property, and to allow for a capacity of 1,500 students, twice the current high school enrollment, for an expansion of the Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School to accommodate another 400 students above its current capacity of 600.
It is expected that a final version of the RFP will come before the City Council for a vote next Monday night and before the School Board for a vote the next night.