The Washington Post

To ease crowding, Fairfax looks to buy office building for school

Fairfax County school officials are looking to purchase a vacant office building in the Seven Corners area that they hope to convert into a school, part of a plan to alleviate severe crowding at nearby Bailey’s Elementary, schools officials said.

Located at 6245 Leesburg Pike — across Route 7 from the Seven Corners Shopping Center and a Home Depot — the facility would be the school system’s first school in a former commercial space. The five-story brick building, which housed offices of the Fairfax County Health and Human Services department until last August, is about 11 / 2 miles from Bailey’s Elementary, which schools officials think is jammed with far too many students.

The school system has been working for more than a year to address crowding at Bailey’s, which is one of the largest elementary schools in Virginia. The school has an expected enrollment of 1,450 this fall and is projected to reach more than 1,600 students by 2017.

Bailey’s has 19 trailers to accommodate the surge in growth from the largely immigrant community in the Mason District.

The office building on Leesburg Pike mostly has been empty since the human services department left the space last year, said Anthony Chang, a vice president at the Cassidy Turley commercial real estate firm. Chang, who is representing the building, said that the site is being marketed for lease.

Schools spokesman John Torre said officials are considering several ideas to relieve crowding at Bailey’s.

“Our staff constantly and regularly seeks ways to provide the most optimal learning environment, especially for those students who are in overcrowded schools,” Torre said.

In January, the School Board approved a plan to construct a $21 million elementary school in eastern Fairfax near Bailey’s in the next five years. One location the school system was considering is a site on the Glasgow Middle School property, which has about 95,000 square feet available under zoning rules, according to facilities services data.

That space is roughly equivalent to the 96,000 square feet available in the office building on Leesburg Pike, which would be well above the median size of elementary school buildings in the county, which is 80,000 square feet. The commercial site was constructed in 1987 and last sold in February 2005 for $20.5 million.

T. Rees Shapiro is an education reporter.

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