A 53,000-square-foot Children's Science Center is coming to Loudoun County, planners of the interactive exhibit and museum announced at a May 6 news conference.
Northern Virginia's first Children Science Center will be constructed in the heart of the long-stalled Kincora development, located near the convergence of Route 7 and Route 28 in eastern Loudoun. Kincora donated the land for the nonprofit center, and officials with Kincora said the museum corresponds with the development's vision to be at the "crossroads of commerce and knowledge."
The Children's Science Center announcement allows "Northern Virginia, the largest metropolitan region without a children's museum or science center, to finally offer world class facilities for hands-on, experiential learning to resident families, students and visitors to the region," according CSC board member Jill McNabb.
"Today, we are putting a stake in the ground"actually two," Nene Spivy, executive director for the Children's Science Center, said in a statement May 6. "After many years of searching for a suitable home, we have achieved our long-time goal to be located within the Dulles region, where families and high-tech industry partners are plentiful, and where we can offer a regional resource serving multiple jurisdictions in Northern Virginia and beyond."
The center, which has a target completion date of 2019, is expected to bring an estimated 300,000 visitors into Loudoun County annually.
In addition to the full-scale museum and exhibit, Children's Science Center officials announced development plans for a 5,400-square-foot first operating site at Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax. That portion of the project is anticipated to be complete in mid-2015.
Loudoun County's Board of Supervisors has already agreed to provide a $250,000 grant to the center, consisting of building fee waivers and cash to offset operating costs for the museum's first and second years, according to county staff. The grant will be awarded only after all the capital construction costs have been raised by the center, and the agreement will also contain clawback provisions requiring the center to repay the county in full if the facility fails to open or remain open for two years, a county report states.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott York (R-At Large) said he was "extremely pleased" to see the museum locate in Loudoun.
"The Children's Science Center will impact hundreds of thousands of young minds a year; teaching them that important subjects such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics can be fun and helping keep the spark of STEM learning alive past the critical 8th grade level," York said in a statement. "Helping foster interest in learning is one of the most important investments we can make for our children's future."
"This is clearly a good investment. This is not debatable," said Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run), the board's vice chairman, during the April business meeting in which the incentive deal was discussed. Williams noted the project could help "kick-start development" in the Kincora area.
"This is a great demographic. I think your business will certainly thrive here," Williams said to representatives of the Children's Science Center.
A nonprofit organization, CSC is currently in its first phase of development with Museum Without Walls, through which the group provides hands-on science activities to thousands of children. Phase two is the 5,400-square-foot interactive exploration center, The Lab, located at the Fair Oaks Mall, followed by phase three, the Loudoun facility.
While the mixed-use Kincora development has been slow to take off, managing member Michael Scott said the site is a perfect match for the science endeavor, and vice versa.
"The site will provide easy access and the Children's Science Center will bring an educational component that is unique to the Washington, D.C. region," Scott said.
Contact the writer at tbaratko@VirginiaNewsGroup.com.