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The old Gander Mountain store in Woodbridge was temporarily home to the Community Vaccination Clinic.

Prince William County officials announced Thursday the county will purchase the former Gander Mountain property in Woodbridge for $15.2 million. 

The former outdoors equipment store shuttered in 2017, leaving the 155,309-square-foot space without a tenant. The county has been leasing the space on and off since 2021, paying about $25,000 per month to 14041 Worth Avenue Holdings LLC to operate COVID-19 vaccine clinics. 

With the clinics over, the county is planning to convert the store into its first crisis receiving center to divert people facing mental health crises from local hospitals and jails. To do so, the county entered into an 11-year lease for the building. Now, that lease will be nullified.

According to Thursday’s announcement, the county was the winning bidder at auction for the building, which was originally built in 1996, at $15.2 million. The property was most recently purchased by 14041 Worth Avenue Holdings LLC for $15.7 million in 2018 and was assessed at a value of $21.2 million – its high mark – in 2008, according to county records. 

“I am grateful for county staff that was able to act quickly to make this purchase a reality. The county will benefit in the long run from this action,” Board of Supervisors Chair Ann Wheeler said in a statement to InsideNoVa. 

Scheduled to open in 2024, the crisis receiving center will cost about $18 million to set up, not including the new purchase price of the building. Most of that one-time funding will come from the state, with the county paying $4 million to the buildout and planning to budget $2.7 million annually for its operation. 

“The acquisition of the building ensures that the Crisis Receiving Center will be able to remain at the site for years beyond the 11-year lease it signed with the current owner,” the county’s communications office said in a news release. “By purchasing the property, the county now has the assurance that the investment of $18 million in build-out expenses related to the Crisis Receiving Center space will not have to be duplicated after 11 years, ultimately resulting in cost savings.”

Prior to this week, there had been no public discussion on the possibility of purchasing the property. But on Tuesday night, the Board of County Supervisors used the very end of its meeting to approve the purchase. Occoquan Supervisor Kenny Boddye made the motion, which was not on the agenda, to authorize the purchase. It passed in a 6-2 vote, with Republican supervisors Bill Weir (Gainesville) and Jeanine Lawson (Brentsville) dissenting. 

Discussions of property acquisition typically take place in the closed session portion of county board meetings as to not weaken the government’s negotiating position. But Weir said that possibly spending up to $20 million on the property with little discussion would be irresponsible.

“I’ve got a problem with it philosophically with dumping $20-plus million outside of the adopted [capital improvement program] and without consideration of the impact of this expenditure on the existing CIP projects since we’re putting it ahead of the line,” Weir said in response to Boddye’s motion. “I personally believe it’s poor public policy to expedite an acquisition of this magnitude in 14 days from presentation to allocation, regardless of how good the opportunity appears. That time frame makes due diligence difficult, if not impossible.”

Lawson agreed, saying she was “not comfortable” with the purchase and calling it “rushed.” 

According to the county’s press release, the county will “remit a nonrefundable earnest money deposit” of $1 million on Thursday, and the sale will officially close within 45 days. 

"This Board secured $18 million in combined federal, state, and local funds to deliver on our promise of bringing crisis-based mental health services to the people of Prince William," Supervisor Boddye said via email. "With the Gander Mountain purchase, we protect that investment and demonstrate our long-term commitment to increasing access to mental health services in our community."

Jared Foretek covers the Manassas area and regional news across Northern Virginia. Reach him at jforetek@insidenova.com


Jared Foretek covers Prince William County Public Schools, the city of Manassas and transportation news across Northern Virginia. Reach him at jforetek@insidenova.com

(4) comments

Amir Raminpour

Why doesn't the Board of Supervisors and county officials solicit bids for settlement services from PWC residents and businesses instead of using their friends. Would save the county and taxpayer thousands.

Fix Prince William

When do these crooks go up for reelection?

David Westberg

Putting a high concentration of mentally I’ll people who belong in prison in the midst of a large shopping area full of women and children. Brilliant! Are you defunding the police too?

Paul Benedict

Sounds like a shady deal to me. And, how can Boddye make the motion with his real estate connections and likely privileged information? I guess ethics are just a joke.

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