People from the nascent Kincora development in Sterling and the Children’s Science Center—one of that development’s future highlights—gathered Saturday, April 6 to celebrate the progress so far on bringing both to reality.
Since 2015, the Children’s Science Center has been a popular spot to visit in Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax County, with hands-on exhibits where young people learn about everything from robotics to aquatics. But plans are in motion to construct a $75 million freestanding facility for the nonprofit in Kincora.
Executive Director Nene Spivy said the project has already raised $55 million toward its goal.
“For many year’s it’s been hard to see the science center on the horizon, but I feel like it’s right behind me,” Spivey said at a celebration near the massive ongoing construction work at Kincora. “It’s going to be a little bit taller than that big old pile of dirt.”
Talk of creating a hands-on children’s science museum in Northern Virginia started almost a decade ago. In 2012, Loudoun County landed on a short list of jurisdictions in which to locate the science center and, in 2014, Kincora announced it would donate land for the project.
An investment from the state General Assembly was jeopardized during the legislature’s budget deliberations early this year, which saw the science center dropped from the House of Delegates’ budget. But ultimately, the state decided to invest $2.3 million to begin detailed design of the center.
The county pledged to contribute $15 million to help pay for the new regional science center. In the face of losing out on state funding, supervisors accelerated those plans to show the General Assembly a serious commitment on the part of the county government.
The county government will also provide funding of $250,000 a year for the first five years, along with service contracts with Loudoun County Public Schools for student programs and teacher professional development.
In exchange, the center is expected to bring to the region millions in economic benefits, not to mention give people in Loudoun access to science, technology, engineering and math education and further solidify the region’s quality of life and reputation as a science and technology powerhouse.
When it’s done, it will be part of a network of science centers across the state. More than half of its 53,000 square feet will be set aside for interactive exhibits and active visitor space.
It will also be part of the larger, 424-acre Kincora project slated to include 1,400 apartments and condos, 160 acres of parkland, 4 million square feet of office space, 500,000 square feet of retail and a hotel. Kincora also features one of the largest Great Blue Heron rookeries in Virginia, and will be the home of the National Museum of Intelligence and Special Operations.