Christopher S. Herrington,
The response area for this fire station covers the northern section of the Richmond Highway corridor. Population growth, changing demographics and more residential and commercial development will increase the demand for emergency and non-emergency services.
The Penn Daw Fire Station was built in 1967 as a volunteer station and is one of the oldest and busiest in the county. It was expanded in the late 1980s to 15,700 square feet. The building houses the apparatus bays, offices, storage areas, mechanical rooms, men’s and women’s shower/locker rooms and bunks, a laundry room, an exercise room, a kitchen, and a hose tower with an upper level. The station is located on a 1.15-acre parcel on a residential cul-de-sac with significant challenges to expand or rebuild on the existing site.
The building systems have reached the end of their service life. The original plumbing fixtures do not meet county standards for water conservation, the emergency generator has significantly less capacity than generators at similarly sized stations, the lighting and HVAC systems are not energy efficient and are due for replacement. The apparatus bays are outdated and undersized with very low ceilings and are unable to house larger, heavier equipment. This station lacks adequate living quarters for female personnel and requires replacement of building systems that have far exceeded their intended life cycles.
As planning developed on the Penn Daw Fire Station, the Hybla Valley Nursery site became available and was found to be an advantageous location for the new fire station. The location on Beacon Hill Road allows first responders direct access to emergencies in the community and eliminates the need for construction of a temporary fire station. Due to the size of the property and ideal location along Route 1, an opportunity was realized to provide co-location of additional facilities.
An advisory committee was convened by Mount Vernon District Supervisor, Daniel G. Storck, that includes members from nearby communities, public safety representatives, faith community and affordable/emergency housing providers, the Mount Vernon Council of Citizens Association, the Mount Vernon Lee Chamber of Commerce, Fort Belvoir and county staff. The advisory committee will work with county staff on evaluating potential programs that could be co-located with the permanent, new Penn Daw Fire Station. The committee members will act as the liaison between the community, this project, and the supervisor’s office. See the Penn Daw Fire Station and Supportive Housing Committee Member List.
The committee held its kick-off meeting on November 6, 2020 and recently held its seventh meeting on May 7, 2021.
The county is also hosting virtual and in-person community meetings.
Funding for the Eleanor Kennedy Shelter was approved along with three other county shelters in the 2016 Human Services and Community Development Bond Referendum; however, a suitable location had not been identified at the time.
The existing Eleanor Kennedy Shelter operates from a 100-year-old converted pump house located on land leased from Fort Belvoir. Renovating the shelter would require complete modernization of existing interior and building systems, refurbishment of historic exterior materials, roof replacement, a new natural gas connection, and the addition of stormwater management facilities.
Expansion of the shelter to accommodate a comprehensive program is prohibited due to the building’s location within a 100-year floodplain and resource protection area, and renovations are limited by the building’s historic status. Co-locating services at the site and providing supportive housing in a new, modern facility aligns with county strategies to prevent and end homelessness in the Fairfax-Falls Church community.
Housing First is the county’s preferred approach for working with people who are experiencing homelessness with no dependable housing options. The community has a unique opportunity with this site to create a 21st Century vision of the continuity of the emergency and permanent housing that community members need.
In line with the county’s Housing First goals, the Beacon Hill site also presents an opportunity to further the continuum of housing by including an affordable housing component at the site. More price-appropriate housing is needed in the county at a range of income levels, as it has become increasingly difficult for many households to find affordable housing. Individuals and families with the lowest income levels face the greatest challenge. The Communitywide Housing Strategic Plan identified a specific need for an additional 15,000 net new homes, affordable to households at 60 percent of the Area Median Income and below, during the 15 years between 2019 and 2034. These households are critical members of the workforce and an essential component of the local economy. The lack of affordable housing in the county has been identified as a leading cause of homelessness. In addition, price-appropriate housing must be made available to county residents who have a disability, who are more likely to have extremely low-incomes and often face a compounded problem of finding housing that is affordable and has accessibility features.
The project is located off Route 1, at the former Hybla Valley Nursery site at 2801 Beacon Hill Road, Alexandria, VA 22306.
The Penn Daw Fire Station and Supportive Housing Committee is expected to meet over the next several months, with the goal of determining co-located uses and programs on the site. During this time, additional larger community-wide meetings will be held. Once the co-located uses are determined, county staff will begin the process for selection of architectural and engineering consultants for the design of the overall project. The schedule for future community meetings will be posted on this website.
For more information, please contact the project team at firstname.lastname@example.org, Building Design and Construction Division, Capital Facilities, Department of Public Works and Environmental Services.
12000 Government Center Pkwy
Fairfax, VA 22035