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Planning commission OKs Inova’s plan for new Franconia hospital

Inova is proposing to expand its hospital campus in Franconia (via Inova)

Inova Health System’s proposal to build a new hospital in Franconia is moving forward with the blessing of the Fairfax County Planning Commission.

At a meeting last Wednesday (July 27), the commission voted unanimously in favor of Inova’s plan to build a medical campus northwest of the intersection of Franconia-Springfield Parkway and Beulah Street. The existing HealthPlex at 6355 Walker Lane would remain on the site.

If approved, the campus would be built out in two phases, with the first phase including a 144-bed, roughly 407,000-square-foot hospital, a utility plant, a 134,100-square-foot outpatient center, and the existing HealthPlex.

But a request that Inova consider moving its overhead facilities in a reservation area to allow a future interchange drew contention from the applicant during a July 20 public hearing.

The applicant’s representative Timothy Sampson said it was unfair for state and local transportation officials to ask Inova to relocate its utilities to make way for a future interchange that the Virginia Department of Transportation has planned in the area — a project that is contemplated in the long-term.

“My point is that it’s not fair at all to say that what Inova is doing is costing the public right,” Sampson said. “What Inova is doing is saving the public by giving the right-of-way. ”

Fairfax County Department of Transportation staff member Marc Dreyfuss said that if Inova does not commit to relocating the proposed facilities, the public would bear the burden of removing utilities in the area.

“It would be on the public to relocate them in the future,” said Dreyfuss.

Dreyfuss told the planning commission last week that Inova has agreed to locate its utilities within 21 feet of the right-of-way line for the interchange project.

“This will allow the utilities to be placed in a location that will be under the future shared-use path and landscape buffer, but not under the roadway, which would be acceptable for VDOT in the future,” he said. “So, we believe that this resolves the challenge that we worked through last week, and we no longer have any transportation issue with the application.”

The second phase of the project would expand the hospital by 72 beds and the outpatient center by 82,600 square feet. Inova is formally seeking the county’s permission to rezone the property from industrial uses to a planned development community.

The planning commission approved a comprehensive plan amendment to allow for the expansion on June 8.

The main hospital would include an emergency department, an imaging department, below-grade parking, and a helipad to serve the emergency department.

The emergency center would not include a level one or level two trauma center, which means that the proposed helipad won’t see many emergency trips.

“The proposed helicopter operations at the application property would have extremely limited impact on the surrounding area,” Sampson said.

Overall, 2,202 parking spaces will service the campus.

The nonprofit health care provider spent more than $40 million in 2020 to acquire property in a residential area near the Inova HealthPlex, turning the site into a 21-acre campus in lieu of the Liberty View mixed-use development that had previously been approved.

There is still other development in store for the Franconia-Springfield Metro area, including a new townhouse complex on Beulah Street and a new Franconia Government Center. To the north, the existing government center could be replaced by affordable housing.

“The expansion is expected to meet the needs of a growing population, which is expected to grow by more than 50,000 people by 2030,” Sampson said.

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