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Mount Vernon Rec Center closing Dec. 31 for two-year, $74 million revamp

Rendering shows an expansion and a renovation for the Mount Vernon RECenter (via Fairfax County)

The Mount Vernon RECenter is closing at the end of the month for a two-year, $74 million renovation project.

The nearly four-decade-old recreation center right off Belle View Blvd is set to close at 4 p.m. on Dec. 31 to allow for a massive expansion and renovation.

The plan is to add about 75,000 square feet to the rec center, which is set to include a two-story fitness center, building upgrades, an indoor track, a remodeled pool, and a second “NHL-sized” ice rink. The project is expected to take two years, with a reopening scheduled for the early part of 2025.

The Fairfax County Park Authority’s board officially approved the upgrades to its “oldest and most popular” facility back in March.

The recreation center, which opened in 1974, has had a myriad of problems in recent years, requiring workarounds and hundreds of thousands of dollars in short-term fixes. That includes renting ice chillers and dehumidification systems as well as fixing a failing roof.

While closing the entire facility for two years was a “tough” decision, it was the best option of several the county considered, FCPA director Jai Cole said in a press release:

The decision to close the entire facility for two years was a tough one; but it is the best option when it comes to delivering the most desirable outcome and limiting the impact of the closure on our customers. We have worked very hard to create a schedule that has enabled the facility to remain open for as long as possible prior to construction and to condense the closure period as much. While we understand that the temporary closing is challenging, we very much look forward to delivering a top-notch, state-of-the-art facility that will serve this community well into the future.

The total project is set to cost just over $74.4 million, an 83% increase over the proposed 2021 budget. Last year, county officials set the budget at $40.7 million, but it became clear that number was unrealistic.

According to a May 2022 presentation, bids came in much higher due to supply chain delays, building infrastructure challenges, and “complex construction phasing with market uncertainty.”

Even in the six months since then, the budget has risen again by another $7 million.

“The total project budget is $74,431,381 — an increase of $33.73 million over the original 2021 budget,” FCPA spokesperson Ben Boxer wrote FFXnow in an email. “The cost increase has been driven by ongoing supply chain challenges and inflation. The cost increase is consistent with construction cost increases across the board on all projects.”

The 24-month closing of the facility is also expected to cost the county $1.3 million in revenue.

The additional money needed for the project will come from a reallocation of other bond funds that had been marked for other projects as well as $25 million from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that was provided to the county, per Boxer.

Residents who have countywide rec center memberships will be able to use it to access the county’s eight other eight centers. The George Washington Rec Center near Mount Vernon High School will expand its hours on Jan. 2, 2023 to accommodate the closure of the Mount Vernon center.

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