High School Campus Project

On July 24, the Falls Church City Council passed an ordinance to request the Circuit Court place a referendum on the November ballot. That referendum will call for issuance of up to $120 million in general obligation bonds to for a renovated high school and a portion of the middle school.

Over the past four years, the City Council and School Board have taken an exhaustive look at the possibilities,considering options for a new school that include full gut renovation and addition; partial renovation and addition; phased building over 10 years; and new building.

The schools conducted a feasibility study that concluded the best option was a five-story high school aside 10 acres of commercial development. In an economic feasibility study, consultants estimated that as much as $45 million could be earned by the City’s long-term lease or sale of the 10 acres. Because of limited space on the site, the new school would need to be built before the existing building can be taken down for commercial development. The City will need to issue bonds for the full cost of the school before the commercial development revenue from the sale or lease of the property is available.

Important Documents & Links

  • NEW: Capital Finance Plan (White Paper) (August 2017 -- 6 pages)
    This white paper gives a summary of the funding plan, the fiscal impact, and underlying assumptions of the school cost and commercial development. The range of tax impacts with and without the land sale/lease reflecting future potential tax yields is expected to be between 4 cents to 15.5 cents on the Real Estate Tax Rate. The impact on the Real Estate Tax Rate is heavily dependent upon the successful marketing and sale of the ten acres of existing campus land and the potential tax yields from commercial development on the school campus site.

  • Referendum Ordinance and Staff Report (July 2017 -- 5 pages)
    Read the ordinance approved by City Council that includes the language of the referendum. The staff report immediately before the ordinance includes background and fiscal impact. A more in-depth look at the fiscal impact is available in the Capital Finance Plan white paper.

  • Memo from School Superintendent Peter Noonan (July 2017 -- 14 pages)
    This memo was presented to City Council and includes a history of the high school project, starting in 1949 with a voter-approved $40,000 bond referendum to purchase property at the corner of Leesburg Pike and Haycock Road. There is also analysis of the Feasibility Study, including design principles, criteria to determine the best option from the study, and a quick overview of the five options. Noonan also includes a breakdown of the costs of the new high school as well as long term operations costs and considerations.

  • Highest and Best Use Value Analysis (July 2017 -- 20 pages)
    This economic development by Alvarez & Marsal concluded that the 10 acre commercial site supports approximately $43-45 million in value, based on a few assumptions. The assumptions (page 9) include the developer providing $10 million in up-front payment and $3 million in proffers.

  • George Mason High School Feasibility Study (June 2017 -- 71 pages)
    This study presented by Perkins Eastman on the request of the Falls Church City Public Schools took into consideration the design principles laid out by the School Board. Six options were included in the study, and the Board ultimately favored the Community School concept.

  • Small Area Plan, Planning Opportunity Area 8: Schools-Related Parcels
    The Small Area Plan provides a framework for economic development on the high school campus. Some work toward this goal has already been done through an Urban Land Institute Technical Assistance Panel (ULI TAP) and joint City government and public school committees.

Timeline


This document shows the anticipated schedule for the projects if the November 2017 referendum passes:
  • December 2017 through March 2019: High school design and permitting
  • March 2019: City issues first half of construction bonds, with remainder of bonds sold in 2020
  • Spring 2019 – Summer 2021: Construction of the high school
  • September 2012: New high school opens
Concurrent to the school design and construction process, the land development program would proceed with the following timeline:
  • December 2017 through February 2019: Final planning, zoning, and marketing of 10 acres of campus property for commercial development
  • February 2019: City enters into master development agreement for the lease or sale of 10 acres of campus property, prior to the issuance of bonds to finance the construction of the school
  • Spring 2019 through Summer 2021: City considers land approvals and site plan approvals for commercial development
  • September 2021: Developer takes possession of 10 acres of campus land for commercial development and the existing high school is demolished

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