Voters Approve a Referendum: In November 2017, the voters of Falls Church approved a referendum for the issuance of up to $120 million in bonds for the construction of a new George Mason High School. As part of the strategy for mitigating taxpayer costs for this new high school, the City Council, School Board, Planning Commission and Economic Development Authority have been jointly planning and marketing up to 10.3 acres of the George Mason High Campus for private economic development. It was envisioned that a long-term land lease for the 10.3 acre site would be granted to a developer, and the value of that land lease and the future tax revenues from such redevelopment would be used to help defray the cost of annual debt service for the new school.
Request for Conceptual Proposals: On March 1, the City issued a Request for Conceptual Proposals (RFCP) for the West Falls Church Economic Development Project. On May 1, the City received six conceptual proposals from highly qualified teams in response to this RFCP. A nine member Evaluation Committee composed of representatives of the City Council, School Board, School Administration, Planning Commission, Economic Development Authority, and City Staff reviewed the proposals closely and reported to Council on its recommendation for the finalists to receive a Request for Detailed Proposals (RFDP) in a closed work session.
Request for Detailed Proposals: On June 15, the City issued the RFDP to encourage the three down-selected finalists to compete for the 10-acre development opportunity on the George Mason High School (GMHS) Campus. The RFDP requested participants to provide a financial offer, along with more specific project information, site plans, timelines, programming information, and full financial plans with revenue assumptions based on the development program for the site. The development teams of EYA/Regency/PN Hoffman and Rushmark WFC responded with detailed proposals.
Evaluation Committee Considers Proposals: The Evaluation Committee met six times between September 4 and November 5 to evaluate the proposals on the basis of the value offered for the site, the quality of the development program, civic space, and the up-front and long-term financial benefits for the City. On November 5, the Evaluation Committee voted unanimously on the top-ranked respondent due to the proposed development’s long-term and short term economic value to the City, and a desirable program that features a diverse mix of uses, and strong commercial, civic, and place-making components.
Interim Agreement Signed: In November 2018, the City Council approved an Interim Agreement for a public-private partnership with EYA, PN Hoffman, and Regency Centers. The project will develop a portion of school property to defray the costs of a new high school. The proposed development, on 10.3 acres at the current George Mason High School campus, is expected to feature retail, office space, residences, a hotel, and civic spaces. The plan also includes The Little City Commons, an active and vibrant public space at the center of the development.
Comprehensive Agreement Executed: In May 2019, the City Council approved the terms for, and authorized the City Manager to execute, the Comprehensive Agreement (CA). In general, the CA sets out the business terms of the development agreement, such as the schedule of land payments to the City, the construction covenants, the schedule of performance and the like. The CA was executed in June 2019.