Ruins of burned hotel near Mount Vernon may soon be cleared

Burned hotel

The burned remains of the Quality Inn hotel at 8849 Richmond Highway are seen late last year.

The charred remains of a Route 1 hotel may finally get demolished nearly two years after a massive fire left the building unsuitable for use.

The owner of the property, Sun Lodge LLC, has applied for demolition permits to raze the Quality Inn & Suites at 8849 Richmond Highway. 

The demolition permits have not been approved yet, and will take longer than usual to be processed because the property is part of the Woodlawn Plantation and The Pope-Leighey Historic Overlay District. That means the demolition application must go before the county’s architectural review board (ARB), who will make a decision on the application at their next meeting on April 13.

Christine Morin, chief of staff for Supervisor Dan Storck (D-Mount Vernon), said the supervisor’s office is confident that the application for demolition will be approved. 

“Our office has been in touch with the owners of the Quality Inn weekly,” Morin said Tuesday. “We’ve worked with them to help submit the application to the ARB … we don’t see any roadblocks there.”

It is unclear what the future holds for the Quality Inn property once it’s cleared. Thakor Mistry, one of the owners, had originally wanted to have a self-storage facility built on the site, but Storck opposes that idea.

“That’s a very visible place in a key location,” Morin said, noting the property’s proximity to the Mount Vernon estate and other tourist attractions. “[Storck] would like to see something else there.”

An unpopular eyesore

The remains of the hotel, which sat at a prominent location near the intersection of Mount Vernon Memorial Highway and Jeff Todd Way, have sat largely untouched since the massive blaze on April 22, 2015. Community members have complained that the site has become a dangerous eyesore; Morin says the supervisor’s office receives a call about the property almost every day.

The county filed a number of code complaints with Sun Lodge in the months following the fire. In May 2016, Storck’s office opened a blight abatement complaint against the owner. By putting a property into the blight abatement program, the county requires the owner to take action within a certain amount of time. If the owner doesn’t address the county’s concerns, the county can take action on its own and charge the property owner for the costs.

But that is typically a time-consuming and costly process that requires public hearings, additional notifications, solicitation of bids and permitting processes.The county’s director of code compliance told Covering The Corridor last month that the county was working with the property owner to resolve the situation without resorting to legal action.

“Going to court is a last option, and we always work with owners first to seek self-compliance in getting problems resolved voluntarily,” said Jack Weyant, the Fairfax County Director of Code Compliance. 

The Quality Inn & Suites building was constructed in 1974 and was renovated in 2008-2009, according to county permit records. Prior to being a Quality Inn it had been an Econo Lodge.

Sun Lodge LLC purchased the property in 2005, according to county tax records.

An investigation by the Fairfax County Fire Department found the 2015 blaze to be accidental.