Vienna’s former Faith Baptist Church to be demolished early next year

The former Faith Baptist Church building in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 2:20 p.m. on 10/31/2023) The end is nigh for Vienna’s former Faith Baptist Church.

The Vienna Town Council gave town staff the green light on Monday (Oct. 2) to pay a contractor $327,608 to demolish the building at 301 Center Street South, where it has stood since the 1950s and remained vacant since the police department finished moving out in January.

The town’s public works department anticipates that the demolition will take place three to four months from now, according to Town of Vienna Public Information Director Karen Thayer.

“Unless something unexpected comes up, the building will likely be removed by early February,” Thayer told FFXnow.

Vienna bought the 3-acre property for $5.5 million in September 2020 to temporarily house its police officers during construction on a new, $14 million police station just down the road at 215 Center Street South.

However, the town has yet to settle on a long-term plan for the site, now known as the Annex. Council members debated whether to keep at least the church’s gym, but they ultimately voted on June 5 to tear it all down after seeing escalating costs of maintaining the two-story building and bringing it up to code.

The demolition budget increased as well from an initial estimate of $250,000. Coming out of a 2022 capital projects bond, the funds approved this week include a 10% contingency and the cost of removing asbestos that a survey found in August, acting public works director Adam Lehman told the town council.

“The asbestos has to be removed out of the building prior to tearing down the building itself,” Lehman said.

The demolition will be done by The Berg Corporation, which will also be responsible for removing the asbestos and “all concrete slabs and walkways” belonging to the building, town staff said.

“The contractor will provide tree protection, erosion control measures and will import clean fill and topsoil as necessary to provide positive drainage after the building has been demolished,” staff said in a summary for the council. “The contractor will provide seed/straw to stabilize areas disturbed by the demolition work.”

The property’s parking lot and driveway won’t be included in the demolition.

A study conducted this spring and summer to gather public input on a long-term use for the Annex suggested community members favor a recreational facility, but with a new parks master plan on the horizon, the council held off on a more in-depth evaluation of a potential project’s operational and financial needs.

The council deferred a vote on Monday that would’ve kickstarted the development of the new parks plan, by hiring the consultant Kimley Horn for $236,230.

“The Park System Master Plan will set a vision to guide long-term future development, re-development and improvements to the Town’s parks systems, open space, trails and recreation facilities over the next 5 to 10 years,” town staff said. “…The project will also update the inventory of existing parks, open space and trails, and provide a conditions report for each park and its facilities.”

The Annex is one of several town-owned properties that staff have suggested considering for recreational uses, including the water towers on Tapawingo Road and Wall Street and the Beulah Road site previously used for mulching.

As part of the planning effort, the town has asked Kimley Horn to propose three development options for the Robinson family’s property at 124 Courthouse Road SW. Already identified by the council as a site for a future park or recreational facility, the house has been vacant since former councilmember Maud Robinson died in 2019.