The Arlington original building's future

Arlington Original Building basement (photo by Evan Stancil).

Long before the shadows of Founders Hall were cast towards George Mason University’s graduate campus on Fairfax Drive, there stood a rectangular red brick building serving as a central part of Mason’s Arlington campus. The Arlington Original Building as it is still called, was a Kann’s department store prior to becoming home to many of Mason’s academic programs.

These programs included the school of public policy, arts management, non-profit management, education, and economics, among others. It was also the home of the bookstore, computer lab, library and University Life offices. After the $87.9 million construction and upgrade to Founders Hall in late fall of 2010, the Arlington campus Original Building was abandoned, and what was once a central fixture for Mason’s Arlington campus has remained vacant.

The Arlington Original Building is still owned by the university. There are no capital costs associated with the building and it remains a part of state-owned university property. Vice President of Facilities, Thomas Calhoun, when asked about the considerations for use of this empty space remarked, “at this point there is no need for the space.”

"We have just begun brainstorming ideas of what to do with that space in the next 10 to 15 years,” Calhoun said.

One of the escaltors from the Arlington Original Building, which was once a department store (photo by Evan Stancil).

The building is centrally located, a couple blocks from the Virginia Square metro station, next to the FDIC campus on Fairfax Drive and is considered to be prime real estate by locals in the north Arlington community. 

“It is a strategic location along the orange line corridor, which is poised for future growth," said Sean Barnes, a Mason MBA student and finance manager.

When asked what he would like to see done with the space, Barnes said “I would like to see it used for expanding graduate programs.”

Calhoun said the plan for the Arlington Original Building is eventually to demolish it. Possible ideas for rebuilding in that space include using it for student housing, research/conference center or possibly a hotel for commercial space.

Acknowledging that giving away state land for private use would be controversial, Calhoun said it would be important to review what amount of revenue growth would come from it for the university if it went in that direction. Calhoun re-iterated that the university's brainstorming regarding the space is still in the very early stages.

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