Oakcrest School plans to relocate

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The private Catholic high school Oakcrest School in McLean is accepting sealed bids for its current property on Balls Hill Road in McLean in anticipation of moving to a new location near Hunter Mill Road in Vienna.

The all-girls school purchased its future site, which is on 23 acres of land, in November 2007. Earlier this summer, the school submitted a special application for its new building to be located in what is zoned a residential-estate area. Should Fairfax County approve the permit and relocation plans move forward, the amount of space Oakcrest will have will increase significantly.

Ellen Cavanagh, head of the school, said the current facility, located on 5 acres of land, has become "inadequate for carrying out our mission and our vision for this school.

"It really is not providing the kinds of classrooms that we want for the girls," she said. "We want to provide the ability to expand our programs and to also reach a larger number of students … in a building that we design that reflects who we are."

Oakcrest first opened its doors in September 1976 in its first of two Washington, D.C., locations. In 2000, it moved to McLean. Because the relocation is in a holding pattern, no timeline has been set for the move. The special exception hearing is scheduled for Oct. 15.

The building in McLean was the former home of McLean Bible Church. It has accommodated Oakcrest's 220 students since 2000. Parents, faculty, alumni and students all have been involved in the planning process, and the school is developing a capital campaign. It will rely on "philanthropy and the sale of the current facility" to reach its fund-raising goals.

James Kazunas, president of Hollywood Real Estate Services, which is handling the sale, said the McLean property "will be sold in sealed bid format," and bids must be received by Sept. 30.

Cavanagh said that little preparation would be done to the building prior to its selling, and that it had been well-maintained.

"The property is probably best suited to continue as a school, given the scarcity of similar type properties in the Washington, D.C., area," said James Connelly, vice president of LPC Commercial Services, Inc., who has been involved in sales and acquisitions in the D.C. Metro area. "Additionally, the parcel would allow for expansion of the existing improvements, but not to the level Oakcrest requires."

The transition to Vienna is sparking much excitement and anticipation, Cavanagh said, but she is realistic.

"We have to get the special exception and permitting. Then we will start," she said. "We're focusing on that part of the transition."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2009