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Thursday, March 23, 2023
ArlingtonUpdate: Details emerge on hospital plan for Carlin Springs Road site

Update: Details emerge on hospital plan for Carlin Springs Road site

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VHC Health (Virginia Hospital Center) and the Arlington County government have announced plans to turn a 5.8-acre site on South Carlin Springs Road into a 126-bed, advanced rehabilitation and health-wellness facility.

The new facility also will include expanded mental-health services for youth and adults.

“It gives us the space and the infrastructure to do what we’re doing today, but on a larger scale,” said Melody Dickerson, VHC Health’s senior vice president of hospital operations and chief nursing officer.

VHC Health anticipates breaking ground on the new facility in late 2023 or early 2024, and expects construction to be complete in late 2025, but that timetable is dependent on regulatory approval at the state level and zoning approval locally.


The letter of intent announced Jan. 24 “is the first step in a process,” Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz said, pegging VHC Health’s overall investment in the effort at close to $80 million.

Schwartz announced plans to set up a site-plan review committee to give residents and county-government commissions a voice in the process. Any final actions “will come before the County Board for action,” he said.

County Board members were briefed on the project at their regular meeting Jan. 24. Hospital CEO Chris Lane was explaining the project to his own staff at the same time; in his stead, Adrian Stanton – the vice president of real-estate acquisition and development – said the proposal represented an “exciting” way to build on partnerships for common good.

The land on which the proposed facility will be sited had been owned by the hospital for years, but in 2019 was traded to the county government in exchange for county-government-owned land adjacent to Virginia Hospital Center’s main campus on North George Mason Drive.

That swap paved the way for a $250 million expansion of the main campus, which currently is under way and brings the total campus footprint to 21.6 acres.

Under the letter of intent announced Jan. 24, the hospital will buy back 5.8 acres of the 11.6-acre Carlin Springs site for its use. No purchase price was detailed in the letter of intent, only that the two parties would negotiate a purchase and sale agreement “as soon as reasonably possible.”

Assuming that sale goes through, two remaining pieces of the parcel – one of 4.5 acres and the other of 1.3 acres – would remain in the county government’s hands.

The latter parcel is expected to be left in its natural state, while the larger one likely will be developed for uses that are compatible with the hospital project. Schwartz said he would come back to County Board members with a proposal in three to six months.

The deal ultimately hinges on approval at the state level of a certificate of public need authorizing the additional beds and services, as well as County Board approval of any development plans. County officials currently are in the process of tearing down existing buildings on the Carlin Springs site.

Inpatient rehabilitation services at the new facility will care for those with brain and spinal-cord injuries, stroke, neurological and other conditions. VHC Health currently has 20 existing rehabilitation beds for patients at its main campus. The new facility is designed to double total beds to 40, providing more care to those needing to improve function and quality of life, hospital officials said.

Behavioral-wellness facilities at the new facility will include outpatient services and three individualized units: adult behavioral health, adolescent behavioral health, and recovery and wellness.

As part of the letter of intent released by the county government, VHC Health will reimburse the county government’s costs of knocking down existing buildings, and the two parties will share the cost (and use) of a garage that will be built on the site.

As to the sales/purchase price of the 5.8-acre site, a spokesman for the hospital group told the Sun Gazette it would be determined by an appraisal, and the hospital would pay market value to acquire it.

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