Fairfax County officials are working with a private developer to clear a financial hurdle so a plan to revitalize the former Lorton prison can proceed.
A preliminary estimate included in the development guidelines for the main Penitentiary and Reformatory areas, which were approved by county supervisors last week, anticipates a gap of $9 million to $13 million between the cost to redevelop the site and the estimated sales value of the new homes, offices and shopping areas.
The county is in negotiations with The Alexander Co., which specializes in preserving historic properties and converting them for new uses, to work out the financing. If a deal is reached, the project would go before the Board of Supervisors for final approval. Fairfax County could issue bonds to cover the financing gap that could be repaid via a special tax district or some other method.
The plan, developed with community input, includes a plan to preserve about 90 percent of the historic buildings at the early-1900s prison complex, which housed prisoners from Washington, D.C., until the late 1990s. Other portions of the 2,300-acre complex, which Congress turned over to the county in 2002, already have been developed into a secondary school and a golf course and set aside for a public park and new middle school.
Supervisor Gerald Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) said completing the development is vital for Lorton.
"I think if we're able to develop this 80-acre parcel, it will sort of be the capstone and the crowning jewel ... to improvements that have truly changed the face of this community," he said.
The former reformatory would be turned into 171 rental apartments; the penitentiary would become offices; and the former dining hall and power plant would be converted to shops.
The plan also includes 181 single-family homes -- most of them townhouses or duplexes -- and newly constructed retail spaces.