During the 2011 public hearings about the first massive redevelopment project approved in Tysons Corner, Spring Hill Station, there was a bit of debate about expanding Raglan Road Park to add playing fields.
Missing from that debate was the fact that the planned site of those new fields is currently someone’s home.
Fast forward to 2013, and Myra Ashley finds herself in the middle of a confusing land deal, under pressure to sell the property where she has lived her entire life.
“My parents bought that property in 1941 when it was nothing but a dirt road,” Ashley said.
When she came home from the hospital, it was to the home she still lives in today.
In order to gain zoning approval for Spring Hill Station, developer The Georgelas Group, like every other developer, agreed to provide a number of public benefits to the county through proffers. These can include anything from architectural features to the new fire station Georgelas will build for the county.
One of the proffers requires Georgelas Group to purchase 2.8 acres around the existing Raglan Road Park to make room for a sports field that the new Spring Hill Station residents can use.
If Georgelas is not successful in negotiating with the landowners, the proffer states, the county can use eminent domain proceedings to take the land, and the developer would have to cover the costs. Or, if the county opts not to use eminent domain, Georgelas would set aside money for a future park elsewhere.
Although she loves her home and says it would be difficult for her to keep her two jobs if she had to move, Ashley said she is willing to sell.
So is her cousin, Dave Wallace, who owns a neighboring parcel that may also be needed for the park.
However, Ashley said, she hasn’t been offered a fair price for her land.
“I don’t want the world, I just want what’s fair,” she said.
The cousins’ properties lie within a quarter mile of a new Silver Line Station, at the edge of a nationally known business center that is on the verge of a major transformation.
“I can’t have a better location,” Wallace said. “Everybody in the world knows where Tysons Corner is.”
In the housing boom in the early 2000s, they dealt with a string of homebuilders making generous offers on their properties and then backing out when they ran into zoning challenges with the county.
The initial offers The Georgelas Group made on Ashley’s home were based on the assessed value of her home, she said, which is about $460,000 according to county land records. Wallace has not yet been approached to purchase his property.
Ashley put her home on the market and found a buyer willing to pay $200,000 more than the assessed value.
She claims that county staff verbally agreed to match the $660,000 offer and allow her to live there for two more years, which would put her closer to retirement age and ease her stress about finding a new job. She stopped the sale.
The Fairfax County Park Authority declined to comment about its involvement due to the ongoing negotiations.
When that promise turned into an offer in writing from The Georgelas Group, however, it came with a long list of deductions from the price that reduced it by more than $100,000, including charging her $2,000 per month in rent.
“There is no way I am going to pay you $2,000 to live in my own home,” Ashley said.
A Georgelas Group representative could not be reached for comment prior to the print deadline.
Ashley and Wallace say the process has been confusing, and that they’re still not sure who they are negotiating with — Georgelas or the county.
Based on the family’s history with the property and the location of the land, Wallace said he feels like he is in a position where he can only sell his land to the county, and that is artificially holding down the value.
“Everybody is making money off of this except for us,” he said. “What it looks like is that the county is trying to take advantage of us.”
Ashley said she doesn’t know what she’s going to do; whether she should take the latest offer from Georgelas or risk landing in court, navigating eminent domain proceedings.
“I do realize that I will have to leave,” she said. “It’s going to be different.”