Fairfax County has rejected a public-private partnership proposal from Holly, Woods & Vines of Mount Vernon to build an expanded center and Japanese garden on the North Hill site in Hybla Valley.
Brett Kenney, chief aide to Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland, told Patch the county attorney’s office has advised the county Department of Housing and Community Development that the commercial use would force Fairfax County to repay $16 million in restitution to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Kenney said the county is not pursuing the Holly, Woods & Vines proposal at this time and will work with the store owners to find another location should they choose to move.
Meanwhile, the county is currently reviewing a second unsolicited public-private partnership proposal that would involve an alternative development plan, said Fairfax County spokeswoman Stacy Patterson. She did not elaborate on the proposal. It is currently under consideration by the county Department of Purchasing and Supply Management.
North Hill is a wooded lot that borders Route 1 and Dart Drive across from Lockheed Boulevard. The original 48-acre lot was bought by the county’s Redevelopment and Housing Authority using federal Community Development Block Grant funds, for the purpose of creating affordable housing, in 1981. The first phase of the project, completed in the early 1990s, was a 15-acre manufactured home park named Woodley Hills Estates, which stands today on the south end of the lot.
The Holly, Woods & Vines proposal for the remainder of the property featured three parks: a Japanese garden, incorporated as a nonprofit, with admission charged; six tennis courts; and display gardens including trial gardens and water features, open for public and private functions such as weddings. It also featured a horticultural training park with greenhouses to produce annual flowers to parks and for sale in the garden center.
The proposed garden center was touted as a central destination for tourists. It would also have provided meeting space for seminars and served as a noise and visual buffer between Route 1 and the proposed parks.
The garden center and training center were expected to be self-sustaining. The parks would have been funded through a lease of land to Holly, Woods & Vines, with admission charged to the Japanese garden. Memberships and donations would have provided additional funds.
Holly, Woods & Vines owner Vanessa Wheeler told Patch she had little to say about the proposal.
“It doesn’t really matter to me if the North Hill proposal was rejected,” she said. “It’s not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. We’re moving forward, moving along.”
Manufactured Homes, Park Planned
Patterson said the county is currently in the process of obtaining building and site permits for the planned construction of 67 units of manufactured housing on a portion of remaining 33 acres of North Hill. The rest of the property, located on the north end, would be turned into a passive community park to be developed by the Fairfax County Park Authority.
Patterson said the financing plan for the project is under developement. She said she anticipated the county Board of Supervisors would be asked to review and approve the final plan in fiscal year 2013. She did not address the role of the new unsolicted proposal in describing project plans.