Vienna officials move forward with library/garage proposal

Graphic shows design of the proposed new Patrick Henry Library and parking garage. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on July 14, 2020, approved an agreement with the Vienna town government for design and construction of the new structures.

Maybe the third time truly will be the charm and Vienna will get the municipal parking garage town officials have been seeking for years.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously, and without discussion, on July 14 approved an agreement with the town of Vienna for design and construction of a parking garage at Patrick Henry Library when the county redevelops that facility.

The current 13,817-square-foot library has 62 surface parking spaces. The new two-story, 20,490-square-foot library, scheduled to be completed by the end of 2024, will have 125 parking spaces for library users in the parking garage, in addition to the 84 public spaces financed by the town of Vienna.

Vienna will pay 30 percent of the garage’s design costs (up to $850,000) using 2020 bond funds and 19 percent (up to $4.2 million) of the construction expenses using bonds to be sold in 2022.

Fairfax County’s 2020 library bond will include $23 million for design and construction of library and its associated parking.

The Vienna Town Council on June 15 selected the two-level garage design with 125 library parking spaces and 84 public spaces, a plan known as “Option B1.” The Council ruled out “Option B2,” which would have allowed for a three-level garage with 188 public parking spaces, plus 125 spaces for library users.

Vienna officials have the ability back out of the project without penalty until the county approves a concept design for the project, after which the town would receive back 85 percent of its design contribution. If Vienna pulls out when county officials approve construction documents, the county would return only half the town’s contributions toward the project.

If the partnership with Vienna falls through, the county may decide instead to pursue “Option A,” which would entail construction of a two-story library and 90 surface parking spaces.

The library, built in 1971 and last renovated in 1995, is located on 1.43 acres at 101 Maple Ave., E. Despite its having an “antiquated layout that does not adequately reflect modern design and usage,” county officials say the popular facility operates at the level of a small regional library.

“Due to the age and existing condition of the facility, it is extremely difficult to make significant changes to the overall layout or outfit the facility with the infrastructure necessary for energy efficiency, sustainability and to support the technology required by library customers,” county officials wrote in a statement accompanying the board item for the new library.

Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert said she was “very excited” by supervisors’ approval of the agreement.

“This is a way for Vienna to get more parking at a lower and shared cost with the county right in the center of town,” she said. “Our residents will be encouraged to park once and walk to businesses on Maple [Avenue] and Church [Street] and it will be a place to park for town events.”

The new garage should help alleviate traffic congestion by removing some cars from the road, she added.

“Businesses will be happy as some of them, especially ones on Church Street, have been promised parking for many years, but the past parking-garage projects have fallen through for various reasons,” the mayor said.

Vienna officials twice have been thwarted in their quest for public parking garages. A public-private partnership that would have built a garage behind a building at 120 Church St., N.W, fell apart in summer 2013. That site now is occupied by a mixed-use building.

In January 2019, town officials dissolved a proposed private-public partnership under which the town would have owned the second floor of a planned commercial-condominium structure at 223-241 Mill St., N.E., and used that area to provide 121 public parking spaces. A developer currently plans to replace the existing low-rise commercial building on the property with a CubeSmart self-storage facility.

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