County to Purchase South Glebe Road Building to House Head Start Prog

Published on July 18, 2017

  • Three-story office building will be renovated to serve more than 200 children

  • Purchase ensures Head Start program at Edison Center will stay in Arlington

The Arlington County Board today approved the purchase of a three-story office building at 2920 S. Glebe Road to house a Head Start program that will be displaced when the County transfers its Edison Center property to Virginia Hospital Center. The Head Start program serves more than 200 Arlington children from low-to-moderate-income families.

[caption id="attachment_12956" align="alignright" width="300"] 2920 South Glebe Road[/caption]

"Arlington has an acute need for quality childcare across all income levels, and many of our low-income families, in particular, depend on Head Start," said Arlington County Board Vice Chair Katie Cristol. "It was critical - and not easy - to find a solution that keeps this high-quality, affordable option in Arlington without major interruptions in service for our vulnerable early learners. This site serves our needs, is close to many of the families enrolled in Head Start, and can be quickly adapted for childcare use in order to meet this urgent need."

The purchase comes as the County and Virginia Hospital Center move forward on their Option to Purchase agreement, which will allow the hospital to expand at its 1800 N. George Mason Drive campus by purchasing the County's Edison site next door. Currently, the Head Start program, operated by Northern Virginia Family Service, leases a building from the County at the Edison Center. The County's planned transfer of the site to the hospital will displace the program as early as Aug. 21, 2018.

The Board voted 4 to 1 to approve the purchase, with Board Chair Jay Fisette voting no. To read the staff report on this item, visit the County website. Scroll down to Item No. 38 on the Agenda for the Tuesday, July 18 Recessed County Board Meeting. Learn more about the Virginia Hospital Center land agreement with the County.

Wide search for suitable space led to S. Glebe Road building

The County contacted churches, colleges and the General Services Administration and considered other office buildings and various County-owned properties before settling on the purchase of the South Glebe Road property.

Finding an appropriate space was difficult because of the requirements for adequate staff parking, access to an outdoor play area and a pickup/drop off area for daycare facilities.

Ultimately, after running present-value analyses comparing the cost of buying the property to leasing it or leasing another property, staff concluded that buying the 15,649-square-foot building and renovating it was the most cost-effective option available to the County, even though the $3.885 million purchase cost was above the $2.4 million appraised value.

Next steps

The County plans to refurbish and build out the building, now a shell, at an estimated cost of $6.6 million. The total project cost, including the purchase cost, will be $10.5 million. Funding will come from issuing bonds in fall 2017, with interim funding coming from existing pay-as-you-go funds. Construction is expected to be completed in late 2018. Operating costs are projected to be about $270,000 per year, with Northern Virginia Family Service covering $260,000 of that through the rent it will pay. The County will fund the remaining $10,000 per year in projected operating costs.