Residents Discuss Franconia Center Re-use

Residents Discuss Franconia Center Re-use

Will Franconia Government Center move support affordable housing?

On April 13, Supervisor Rodney Lusk explains the resident input process concerning the reuse of the Franconia Government Center.

On April 13, Supervisor Rodney Lusk explains the resident input process concerning the reuse of the Franconia Government Center.

In just about one year’s time, the Franconia Government Center will move into a new facility at a new location after many years of waiting for a new modern center, police station, library, and other services. Residents of Franconia, and the county, must consider how best to reuse the nearly three-acre property on which the government center now sits. The formal public participation process to collect input on options and design features, began on April 13. The meeting was hosted by Supervisor Rodney Lusk, at John R. Lewis High School, assisted by staff from Neighborhood and Community Services, and Housing and Community Development, and others. 

The public meeting about the reuse of the Franconia Government Center on April 13 drew about 200 participants 


The big question for many attendees: Should the site be used for low cost housing, as the County had proposed several years ago, or some other purpose?

In the first of two scheduled public input meetings, the nearly 200 attending encountered an input process very different than the typical town hall meeting. With the assistance of professional facilitators and scribes, six-to-ten people at each of nearly two dozen round tables were asked to engage with each other, to answer questions and share their thoughts on needed community amenities, possible uses of the property, mobility, and area recreation.

Normally soft spoken, Supervisor Lusk was loudly emphatic in acknowledging attention paid to community input, saying, “Some have said this is a done deal [low cost housing]. This is not a done deal. It’s not a done deal, because all of these steps have to be completed. All these many planning and zoning processes still have to be addressed. There will be many points of engagement with the community to talk about anything that is proposed. This is not something to be rushed.” Lusk went on to describe the process which involves a county staff review, report and recommendation presented to the public; followed by similar activities by the land use committee and rezoning departments. Lusk added, “I just want to make sure that people leave this room understanding that nothing has been decided at this point. This is the very first point [in the process].” 

Housing and community development director, Tom Fleetwood, indicated that the County had not entered into an any agreement with the proposed development partnership identified in the exploratory February 2021 RFP process. Fleetwood indicated if the decision ultimately is to pursue the low cost housing option, the qualified RFP developer would be given an opportunity to determine continued interest in the project. If an alternate use is selected, a new RFP likely would be advertised.

The next meeting for citizen input is scheduled for April 22, 6-8 p.m. at the John Lewis High School cafeteria. At a meeting on May 6, 6-8 p.m., at the same location, the county will report out what options have been suggested in the April meetings. At the conclusion of the process, the County Board of Supervisors will determine what option will be pursued.

Project History

This is the third year of the county's implementation of the Consolidated Plan for FY 2022 - FY 2026, with a goal to produce 10,000 new units affordable to households earning up to 60 percent of AMI by 2034. The Franconia property is one of nine projects in the pipeline relied upon to assist in reaching the low cost housing goal.

Currently located at 6121 Franconia Road, Alexandria, the “Proposed One-Year Action Plan for Country FY-2024” lists the Franconia Government Center project. The plan indicates, “The Board of Supervisors transferred ownership of the Franconia Governmental Center site to the FCRHA [in March 2021] for redevelopment of affordable housing.” 

The Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA) announced plans to hold a public hearing on the proposed agreement on Jan. 25, 2024. Residents raised concerns at a Board of Supervisors public hearing on the land transfer on Jan. 23. At the Feb. 20 Supervisors meeting, Lusk formally deferred a decision to convey the property to “ensure that our entire community has an opportunity to voice their opinions on the property transfer.”