Inova’s plan to demolish former Cameron Glen Care Center meets opposition

Inova Health Care Services is moving forward with the demolition of the former Cameron Glen Care Center, a 150-bed nursing and rehabilitation facility that shuttered in 2014.

The demolition — which is slated to happen as soon as possible — would pave the way for the site’s incorporation into Reston Town Center North, a 47-acre area in the heart of Reston’s urban core slated for redevelopment.

But housing advocates want the site to be repurposed for transitional housing that they say is a dire need.

Advocates are calling on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and Inova to consider undertaking a feasibility study to determine if the building can serve as temporary transitional housing.

Recently, an effort to house people suffering from mental health and addiction issues in the vacated building picked up steam.

Reston Strong, a volunteer-run community group that has been raising awareness about homelessness and housing affordability in the area, launched an online petition on Tuesday (March 1) to pursue the study prior to demolition. The organization says hundreds of unsheltered neighbors have no place to go and some are living in tents in the area.

“Given the desperate need for housing — pursuing creative solutions and partnerships is critical. Completing a feasibility study is merely conducting the due diligence needed to combat the current tragic state of affairs with 100s waiting unsheltered,” the petition states.

Inova is currently working with the county to proceed with the demolition. As of last year, the project team received preliminary approval from Reston Association’s Design Review Board for a proposal for the mixed use project.

The area is slated to become an urban mixed-use environment that the county hopes will transition from Reston Town Center to surrounding development.

A mix of uses are planned, including office, residential and retail. Existing county facilities would also see a major shift, including the Reston Regional Library, the Embry Rucker Shelter and Support Housing, and the North County Human Services Building.

“Inova’s plan to demolish the building is a substantial step in the direction of implementing that community vision,” Inova spokesperson Tracy Connell said in a statement to FFXnow.

Connell noted that most of the building’s utilities have been shut off, the elevators have been decommissioned, and the only water into the building is for the sprinkler system.

“Its worsening condition and safety concerns underscore the urgency for its demolition,” she said, adding that exposed wiring, major water damage, broken walls and windows, and evidence of black mold indicate the building is “extremely unsafe.”

Once the building is demolished, the site would become a new Central Park that will “anchor the redevelopment of the larger area in a mix of multiple civic and private uses,” Connell said.

The Fairfax County Park Authority conveyed a five-acre parcel to the county in 2015 in exchange for 90,000 square feet of development rights.

Submission of a revised zoning application is expected after amendments to the Reston Comprehensive Plan are considered by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. A task force assembled by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn recently concluded work on its recommendations.

The nursing home relocated its Reston patients from Reston to Sterling’s Potomac Falls Rehab years ago.

Reston Strong notes that it could take even longer for the Reston Town Center North project to move forward. Last month, the organization launched a “Neighbors in Tents Initiative” to raise awareness about the growing problem of homelessness in Reston and the need for more affordable housing.

“INOVA has plans to demolish 1800 Cameron Glen in the near future and leave an empty, abandoned lot in its place for years or even decades,” the petition states.