An older retail center flanked by some of the most heavily trafficked roads in town will soon have a new anchor tenant. And what that—and other changes at the Shenandoah Square development—will mean for that part of northeast Leesburg is up for speculation.
Leesburg sits at a critical crossroads, as its leaders decide how much of the town’s open space to allow for development, or how older buildings can be transformed into thriving commercial spaces. For the development off Edwards Ferry Road and Rt. 15, much of the change that has yet to occur is largely out of the hands of Town Council members, and instead it may be the business negotiations of one of the globe’s largest employers that decides its fate.
Walmart is the anchor tenant at Shenandoah Square. The global giant owns the building, as well as its parking lot, according to company spokesman Phillip Keene. Ever since plans for a new Walmart Supercenter in Leesburg were announced in late 2014, speculation has run rampant about what will go in the space once Walmart moves out. The usual suspects have all been rumored—Whole Foods, Trader Joes and every other desired retail tenant that does not currently occupy space in Leesburg.
The Walmart Supercenter site plan submitted in late 2014 spells out plans for a 189,543-square-foot store as part of a 550-acre master planned community in the Crosstrail development near Leesburg Executive Airport.
Keene confirms that Walmart will remain in its current space on Edwards Ferry Road “until the new store opens in the first half of 2018.” So those looking for a quick change to the Shenandoah Square development should plan to sit tight. As to rumors that Walmart has already begun quietly shopping its Edwards Ferry space to other potential retail suitors, Keene declined to comment.
“We should be prepared to share more plans in terms of the existing store closer to [the new store’s opening],” he said.
For those already located within the shopping center, they too have been hearing rumors, or wish lists, of what could fill the space. Mark Marocco, head chef and one of the owners of Leesburg Public House, which opened in 2014, is one of them. He said he hopes a well-recognized retailer takes up the Walmart space, as this could only have a positive impact on surrounding retail tenants. He also hopes the future anchor will generate some upgrades within the development, possibly even to make it a bit more pedestrian-oriented, to better accommodate the large numbers of residents who walk to nearby shops and restaurants.
“I think we all know this shopping center needs a little makeover,” he said.
Leesburg’s Economic Development Director Marantha Edwards also believes the center is one that is “ripe for redevelopment.” She said she is confident the large space will be attractive for national retailers, and said her staff will be armed with the latest data on what Leesburg shoppers are buying to woo a future owner. She said this same data is what made Dick’s Sporting Goods choose its new site, also off Edwards Ferry Road in the nearby Battlefield Shopping Center, and the Lowe’s store under construction along East Market Street near the Village at Leesburg.
“I do not believe that this [storefront] will languish. Leesburg is a hot market, that is a favorable site and I think that it will not sit vacant,” she said. “I imagine there will be significant interest.”
About this series: Loudoun Now will take a close look at some key properties in the Town of Leesburg. Many of these properties have the potential, some with active plan review applications, to be the site of some major development, or redevelopment, projects in the town.