Downtown Leesburg Project Receives Unanimous Support

More rooftops are headed to downtown Leesburg.

In a rare showing of unanimity, particularly when a residential development application is considered, the Leesburg Town Council on Tuesday night voted 7-0 to approve special exception application brought forward by Crescent Place builder Don Knutson.

The application calls for the construction of 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 located on 2 acres on the east side of South King Street along Town Branch and the W&OD Trail. The proposed commercial development will include a 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.

 

South King Street Project
South King Street Project

The applicant is proposing to add a pocket park, open to the public but likely managed by the development, and make improvements to Town Branch. The development will also have a public plaza, named after Chuck and Karen Jones, a former Planning Commissioner and economic development stalwart, respectively, whose past contributions to the downtown area were noted by council members.

Knutson still needs the sign-off of the Board of Architectural Review on the project’s design, but the initial appearances before the BAR, for general concept approval, have thus far yielded a positive reaction. The BAR has already approved the demolition of the buildings on the site, including the building that currently houses the Battery Warehouse. Leesburg Downtown Business Association President Gwen Pangle was in the audience for Tuesday night’s meeting, testifying in support of the project on behalf of the LDBA. She also noted that, in her role as real estate agent, she is assisting the businesses currently on the site with relocation and said Battery Warehouse is working to remain in Leesburg.

Council members were largely complimentary of the project. There concerns about the estimated number of school-age children generated by the development–20. Because the development does not require rezoning approval, the council is not able to ask for proffers to offset the development’s impacts, including contributions for schools. However, Knutson assured the council that his role in the Crescent Place project has shown that very few families with school-age children move into the style of housing that will soon be seen at the South King Street project. Instead, like Crescent Place, he believes the development will instead be home to mostly millennials and those who are downsizing and want walkable access to nearby amenities.

Knutson said he recognizes that the project site is a “gateway site into the Town of Leesburg.” He promised, as with his involvement at Crescent Place, to deliver units that give future residents that “wow factor” with “superior curb appeal.”

Councilwoman Suzanne Fox praised Knutson for the proposed architecture he has put forward, and said the improvements to the Town Branch will be a huge benefit to that part of town.

“I hope this is just the beginning of trying to make that area a more revitalized state,” she said.

Councilwoman Katie Sheldon Hammler expressed disappointment that the former Waterford Development project, which envisioned the addition of more parking and commercial uses to that area, did not come to fruition. But she said she hopes Knutson’s project “will be a catalyst” to spur more commercially-oriented development to serve the residents that will call that property home.

Councilman Tom Dunn noted that his support for the project was a departure from his typical stance against multi-family unit housing. “I know that over the years we’ve heard a loud cry from the downtown that we need to do those things that get more feet on the ground,” he said. “I don’t know how much 120 to 180 or so people [generated by the development] will impact it but every little bit counts.”

A Loudoun developer wants to turn the property on South King Street near the W&OD Trail into a development with housing and space for retail or a restaurant. [Danielle Nadler/Loudoun Now]
A Loudoun developer wants to turn the property on South King Street near the W&OD Trail into a development with housing and space for retail or a restaurant.
[Danielle Nadler/Loudoun Now]

2 thoughts on “Downtown Leesburg Project Receives Unanimous Support

  • 2016-11-16 at 2:51 pm
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    While I applaud everyone involved for getting this project to this point, and think this project will have a positive impact on Leesburg and Loudoun as a whole, there are still some obstacles to overcome before final approval. It seems that Gwen Pangle, head of the Leesburg Economic Development Commission, one who has been very vocal for supporting small businesses, really went out on a limb in order to help Knutson see this project become a reality, and watch the numerous small businesses headed towards possibly going out of business shortly (I would like government accountability and know who can relocate and where/what increase and who can’t). I believe some of the many affected businesses owners previously stated, on the record, that it was doubtful that they could relocate elsewhere as their rent would be too high. Realizing that Gwen Pangle owns a private real estate firm within 200 yards of the future construction site, would anyone see a potential conflict of interest if she were to be awarded any listings through Knutson?!? I actually think that it’s a conflict of interest that she is getting any financial gain out of the matter, and feel that in all similar situations, including Valley View Estates (she got 21/all listings), that she should have been required by the Mayor and Town Council, to turn the real estate prospects over to another firm. What I truly don’t get is, you have someone that heads the Leesburg Economic Development Commision that interacts with the Loudoun County counterpart, is President of the Leesburg Downtown Business Association, may very soon be on the Town Council, has very best friends serving on the Town Council (soon to be Mayor) and BOS, and uses all of this to freely market and further her own real estate firm all in the meanwhile being awarded private sector jobs. She also has used her position to help her own family with problems open her own restaurant pub (She can tell you what she did as she only does it for her family, friends and political allies). In less than two-months, we will have a federal government that won’t allow our town governments to continue their corruption.

    Gwen – I know you read these articles and you’ve responded to me in the past….. your recent EDC online government video from the other evening was only 30 minutes long and you seem to be keep omitting actions such as potential negative impacts on our town (such as businesses going bankrupt – in lieu of those only opening). Can you keep track of the status of these affected businesses and how they fair on their new lease search, your fees, their rent increases, etc. just so it’s all public records. Your online videos seem to skirt right over many, many things and YOUR vision of YOUR downtown, as well as Kelly’s, Kristen’s, Michael’s, a second Dog Money, Restaurant, etc. might be a bit skewed from many of OURS……. One other thing, can you please have our Town discuss having a more robust ethical and moral code of conduct including one where all conflicts of interest are posted online, in advance, in a similar fashion to the way that the videos of meetings are. If the paperwork is filed in advance, we will know that there are no shananigans, let’s say before Batu rolls into an unknown Town wanting to Develop, they get some help then you get all the listings (it’s completely different, but very similar to the happenings at Dog Money Restaurant) …….

  • 2016-11-16 at 12:45 pm
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    While I generally oppose development because of our inadequate infrastructure, there are a couple of good ones. Crescent Place was one and this looks to be another. This will be a boost for the downtown and Leesburg in general.

    The photo is much appreciated. It provides clarity on exactly where this will go.

    Where am I going to get my batteries now?

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