November will be a busy month for the Leesburg Town Council, as decisions on major land development applications are expected.
South King Street
On Monday night, the council got its first glimpse at applications for a new downtown housing project, as well as a mixed-use center at the corner of Rt. 7 and Battlefield Parkway.
Don Knutson, one of the homebuilders associated with the Crescent Place development along Harrison Street, is hoping to get the council’s approval on a proposal to bring more housing downtown. He is proposing to construct four, four-story buildings with a total of 64 multi-family units and 7,100 square feet of commercial space and recreation amenities. The project is on 2 acres on the east side of South King Street along Town Branch and the W&OD Trail.
The project would include nearby 3,100-square-foot commercial building, deemed historically significant. That building is occupied by Waterford Development, the developer that once envisioned its own commercial project on the site. The applicant is proposing to add a pocket park and make improvements to Town Branch.
Deputy Director of Planning and Zoning Brian Boucher presented the council with a brief synopsis of the project during its Monday night work session, with a public hearing anticipated for Tuesday.
He noted the project is estimated to generate about 20 school-age children. However, because the application is for a special exception, not a rezoning, the council is not able to ask for any proffers, including school capital facilities’ contribution, to offset the impact of the development. He noted a major challenge the applicant has faced, and will continue to with at the site plan process assuming the project is approved, is that the land falls 90 percent within a floodplain, and will require FEMA’s sign off. Knutson had told to the Planning Commission that the project is estimated to generate $4 million in annual revenues to the town from real property tax, sales and meals tax, and business licenses. The Planning Commission recommended approval of the project.
The council also turned its eyes to further up Rt. 7, where the mixed-use Leegate development is proposed. Developer Stanley Martin is requesting authority to build 430,000 square feet of office uses, 200,000 square feet of commercial uses, a 130-room hotel, two parking structures and 475 residential units—a combination of townhouses, two-over-two condominiums and multifamily units.
To move dirt on the development, the Town Council must first approve a rezoning, special exception and Town Plan amendment for the 77-acre development on land envisioned in the Town Plan as an area for regional office. The applicant, represented by Cooley, LLP, has stated that the market for regional office development has changed dramatically, and now successful office developments are bolstered by adjacent residential and retail uses. When the Planning Commission reviewed the application two years ago, it recommended denial, citing concerns with project design and phasing.
In its initial airing Monday night, council members appeared to share some of those same concerns, and some voiced frustration that the initial staff report on the application was not more thorough. More information was expected to be presented at Tuesday night’s public hearing, with a presentation also from the applicant.
Next up for the council will be the return of the Crescent Parke application, scheduled for another public hearing Nov. 29. While the council voted not to approve the project at its July 26 meeting, a vote to rescind that decision was passed two months later. Now, the project returns with some changes, including the addition of active adult housing, but with less residential units overall proposed; a deletion of proposed residential units on Olde Izaak Walton Property; and earlier phasing of commercial development.