The Falls Church City Council, by a unanimous 7-0 vote, approved the signing of a comprehensive agreement with the team of EYA, PN Hoffman and Regency to move ahead with the development of more than 1.3 million square feet of mixed uses on 9.4 acres at the current site of George Mason High School at the City’s far west end. The critical decision, which surprised observers by its unanimous support on the Council, now clears the way for the Falls Church City Schools to ink a pact with the Gilbane-led team to commence construction of a new high school on the site of fields adjacent the current high school to begin next month.
Superintendent Peter Noonan and most of the F.C. School Board was present at Monday night’s City Council meeting when the vote was taken, and followed the Council’s vote with applause, as Evan Goldman of EYA and his team said their thank yous. The School Board will convene at the Mason High cafeteria tonight at 7 for a public signing ceremony that will trigger the construction of the new school.
Meanwhile, important last minute changes to the overall makeup of the economic development portion caused the Council to approve a delay in the final vote on the special exception entitlement (SEE) for the property until July 8. The changes include removal of the structured parking lot adjacent the new high school that was to be shared by the developer and the schools, the reversion to a surface lot for school use at that spot, and thus an overall reduction of the size of the economic development parcel from 10.38 to 9.4 acres.
Despite the reduction, all of the elements of the original plan are retained, Goldman explained, and the delay in signing the SEE will mean only that an initial payment on a 99-year lease will be held in escrow until the vote is taken in July.