OMVHS renovation and reuse project edges closer to construction

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The Original Mount Vernon High School illuminated on a recent evening

The Original Mount Vernon High School’s (OMVHS) ongoing interior demolition and hazardous materials remediation work will likely wrap up this spring, with construction expected to kick off by the end of the year, according to Fairfax County officials.

The historic building — which first opened to local high school students 83 years ago this month — will eventually be used for a variety of educational/workforce, recreational, childcare, entrepreneurial and cultural purposes.

Since the county’s last community meeting in June 2022 about the renovation and adaptive reuse project, the design process has advanced to about 80% completion, and the construction documents have been submitted for building permit review, said Ipek Aktuglu, project coordinator at Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services. She added that the construction contract is expected to be awarded in fall 2023 with work getting underway soon thereafter.

Part of the construction process will include the repainting of the façade of the historic structure facing Richmond Highway, said Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck. While he is hopeful that the renovation will be complete by 2025, he admits that it’s hard to say whether that will pan out.

An early picture of OMVHS, which was constructed in 1939 at a cost of $100,000 (Credit: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service)

“Until we have a contractor contract and deliverable dates in place, we won’t know what that means,” he said.

The ballpark cost of the project is still around $100 million, said Storck, to be funded with a mix of bonds and historic tax credits. Last fall, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved an additional $3.5 million in carryover funding toward the project budget to support the expansion of the childcare center from 86 to 172 children, from birth to age five — an effort to fulfill the county’s priority to provide high quality and affordable childcare, which is in high demand within the community.

While many sections of the building have been mapped out for specific uses, it’s a “very flexible space” according to Storck, and Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) is working with nonprofits to identify criteria for being located there.

At present, NCS is operating a senior center, teen center and Brain Injury Services at OMVHS. NCS spokesperson Cristin Bratt said the organization is working with county agencies and community-based programs to determine whether other offices should be based at OMVHS or at the Gerry Hyland Government Center just a short distance away.

OMVHS is located at 8333 Richmond Highway in Alexandria.

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