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More funding sought to complete Annandale Civic Space, now under construction

The Annandale Civic Space design finalized in July 2022 (courtesy Fairfax County Park Authority)

Construction is well underway on Annandale’s new civic space, but it will take a little more money to bring Fairfax County’s full vision to fruition.

The cost of the project, which will turn a parking lot at 7200 Columbia Pike into an urban park, has exceeded the available funding, leading to some elements getting revised or eliminated, Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross told the Board of Supervisors yesterday (Tuesday).

Gross requested that the county consider providing an additional $100,000 so those elements, including lighting and parking lot changes, can be reincorporated.

“While the project could be completed as-is, I believe strongly that the inclusion of certain design elements…would position the park for greater visitor safety and long-term success,” Gross said. “Pursuit of these elements during a subsequent phase of construction would contribute positively to the park’s visibility, connectivity, and ability to serve as an anchor for civic connection in an important revitalization area.”

In the works since 2018, the Annandale Civic Space will transform the county-owned site with a plaza, a green lawn with a “topography” playground, an educational garden and an accessible walkway linking Daniels Avenue to Columbia Pike.

Currently, construction is on track to finish this fall, according to the Department of Planning and Development’s community revitalization section.

Initially, the county estimated a “ballpark cost” of $600,000 to $650,000, DPD staff said at a community meeting in 2021. However, by the time construction began this past March, the total estimate had grown to $700,000, according to the DPD’s project page.

Lighting along the walkway through the park and enhancements to the parking lot shown in the final design concept in 2019 were dropped from an updated rendering approved in July 2022.

If approved, the additional funding will primarily go toward realizing the county’s vision of the parking lot as a pop-up programming and events space, according to Gross.

“As the project evolved, designers saw an opportunity to utilize excess parking lot surface by shifting some of the parking spaces to install a more direct sidewalk construction and landscaping panel from the plaza area to the public sidewalk along Columbia Pike,” she told FFXnow. “Funds for Phase 2 also would implement the envisioned catenary lighting, reseal and repaint the parking lot, and install bollards around the refuse collection pad to ensure the bins remain in their proper location.”

During business hours, the lot is expected to provide parking for the Annandale Christian Community for Action (ACCA) Child Development Center, which operates out of the former Annandale Elementary School building on the site.

Gross said the project has “required creativity and flexibility,” including when it came to financing. Since 2020, the county has assembled funds for construction from a variety of sources, including a $363,250 environmental improvement program grant and Economic Opportunity Reserve funds.

At Gross’s request, the project will now be considered for funding from the county’s fiscal year 2023 carryover review, an annual process that allocates any leftover money from the previous fiscal year.

The county’s fiscal year ends on June 30, so the Board of Supervisors typically approves the carryover package in the fall.

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