New Lorton Community Center is now open, joining renovated library and park

The new Lorton Community Center (via Fairfax County)

The doors of the $18 million Lorton Community Center are now open, ahead of a ribbon-cutting ceremony set for this coming weekend.

The 30,000-square-foot facility on Richmond Highway is combined with a renovated and expanded Lorton Library as well as the new 1.7-acre Lorton Park.

The community center features a gym, a fitness room, a kitchen, an art room, and a sensory room. The facility also includes space for the Lorton Senior Center and the Lorton Community Action Center, a nonprofit that provides emergency financial assistance to those in need.

The 10,000-square-foot library has been expanded by 6,000 square feet for a larger children’s area, increased seating, and more meeting and study rooms. The new Lorton Park is located behind the parking lot and has open field space, picnic tables, playground, fitness area, and a trail loop.

The new Lorton Community Center site plan (via Fairfax County)

The facility also has sustainability features like a rain garden, underground stormwater facility, and infrastructure for solar panels.

The full project — the park, community center, and library — cost $27.23 million, with the community center accounting for essentially two thirds of the cost, according to a county spokesperson.

The entire facility opened to the public yesterday (Monday) with a ribbon cutting and “community celebration” scheduled for Saturday (Oct. 15) afternoon, rain or shine.

Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck, Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay and other local officials are expected to attend. There will be tours of the new center and light refreshments.

The facility was initially scheduled to open late last month but was pushed several weeks to allow for “final facility work to be completed,” Storck said.

The center is in the Mount Vernon District, which Storck represents. He told FFXnow in a statement that Lorton is a “historically underserved community in need of these services.”

The community and I are so very excited about the opening of the Lorton Community Center, Library and Park! This gorgeous, multigenerational co-located facility and improved park brings together County wellness, education, human development and support services all under one roof, next to a historically underserved community in need of these services. In addition to these comprehensive facilities, the new Center will be home to a new Senior Center, Teen Center, School Aged Child Care (SACC), and the Lorton Community Action Center (LCAC) with coordination from Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS). Bringing these services all under one roof improves access to services as well as promoting healthy living by enhancing physical, mental, educational and social wellbeing. Fairfax County’s investment in our South County community continues and I look forward to welcoming everyone to the community celebration and ribbon cutting on October 15 at 1:00 p.m.

The proposal to build a Lorton Community Center near this site on Richmond Highway dates back at least 40 years, according a Fairfax County timeline. Initially, the Lorton Library opened in 1990, but the plan was always to build a community center either adjacent to the library or as an addition to the existing facility.

In 2012, the Board of Supervisors directed staff to look into funding options about turning the library into a “multi service facility.” County voters approved a $85 million bond in 2016 with close to $40 million going towards replacing the Sully Senior Center and combining a new Lorton Community Centert with the Lorton Library.

Designing, zoning, and permitting began, but that process was somewhat contentious, as some residents took issue with the park being reduced to 1.42 acres to accommodate the parking lot and argued that they had been insufficiently consulted.

“Clad in bright green t-shirts and ‘Save Lorton Park’ stickers, neighborhood activists accused the county of failing to hold public meetings early in the process, shutting them out of decision-making, and trying to squeeze a sizable community center into a small area in a way they believe will worsen traffic congestion and take away valued green space,” Covering the Corridor reported.

A compromise was evidently reached, since the park is now 1.7 acres in size. Construction began in July 2020 and the facility was completed just over two years later.