County Board Approves New Elementary School at Thomas Jefferson Site

Published on April 22, 2017

  • 752-seat elementary school anticipated to open September 2019

  • Will be built on Thomas Jefferson Middle School parking lot

  • County-APS to develop temporary relocations plan for Thomas Jefferson Theater productions

The Arlington County Board today approved a use permit and land lease agreement for a new elementary school and parking garage that will replace an existing surface lot at the Thomas Jefferson site at 125 S. Old Glebe Road. Arlington Public Schools plans to open the new 752-seat elementary school in September 2019.

"This project has had an extensive and collaborative public review process that began in September 2014 with the establishment of the Thomas Jefferson Working Group," said County Board Chair Jay Fisette. "Various sites, designs and community needs were carefully considered before arriving at the exceptional proposal we have today. We look forward to gaining another top-notch school in Arlington."

The Board voted 5 to 0 to approve the use permit and land lease agreement. To read the staff report on this item, view the agenda for the Saturday, April 22 County Board Meeting. Scroll down to Item No. 35.

[caption id="attachment_11883" align="alignright" width="300"]Entry view. Entry view of planned elementary school.[/caption]

Design features

The project converts an existing surface parking lot to a public school and preserves open space by building up and providing underground parking. The new multi-story, approximately 111,000 square foot building will be built on the northwest corner of the Thomas Jefferson site on the existing surface parking lot. The project includes a new underground parking garage with 214 parking spaces that will provide parking for both the new elementary school and the existing middle school.

The school is designed to use significantly less energy than comparable APS facilities. The building includes a highly insulated building envelope, efficient lighting technology, an energy-efficient HVAC system and a geo-thermal well-field. APS anticipates submitting the project for LEED Version 4 Silver certification with the U.S. Green Building Council.

Other notable features include a gymnasium wall that opens to the outside to create an outdoor theater, play areas that will be open to the public outside of school hours and a publicly accessible restroom on the southwest corner that will be available during off hours. South Old Glebe Road will be rebuilt to support operations of the two schools.

Thomas Jefferson Theater production relocation plan

[caption id="attachment_11881" align="alignright" width="300"]courtyard rendering Courtyard view of planned elementary school.[/caption]

Recognizing that the elementary school's construction will eliminate the 213 parking spots adjacent to Thomas Jefferson Theater and therefore impact productions, the Board directed the County Manager to work with the Superintendent of Arlington Public Schools on a temporary relocation plan.

During construction, theater productions can be moved temporarily to performance facilities at Gunston and Kenmore middle schools, and Wakefield and Washington-Lee high schools. The plan will be updated annually, and will include dates, times and locations for load-in, rehearsals, performances and strike, as necessary, depending on the needs of the production.

Community process

The Thomas Jefferson site was identified as a preferred location for the new elementary school in Arlington Public Schools' FY 2015-2024 Capital Improvement Plan.

The public review process began in September 2014 with the County Board-appointed Thomas Jefferson Working Group and continued with School Board-appointed South Arlington Working Group in June 2015. The County and School boards agreed on the new school's location in December 2015. After the decision to site the new school at the Thomas Jefferson site, the Public Facilities Review Committee and Building Level Planning Committee established a joint project review process that kicked off in February 2016. Committee representatives included various County commissions, neighboring civic associations, condo/apartment buildings and community members.

The design also was reviewed by the Parks and Recreation Commission, Environmental and Energy Conservation Commission, Urban Forestry Commission, Transportation Commission and Planning Commission.

To learn more about the review process, visit the County website.