Leesburg Council Drops Office Requirement For Potomac Station Development

In a move to fill in the largest remaining vacant lot in Leesburg’s Potomac Station development, the Town Council Tuesday night approved a rezoning that will give developers more flexibility in developing their site.

By a 6-1 vote, with Councilwoman Katie Sheldon Hammler dissenting, the council approved the rezoning of the 15-acre lot off the intersection of Fort Evans Road and Battlefield Parkway known as Potomac Station Marketplace. The change allows developers to drop more than 100,000 square feet in office space from the plan.

As currently laid out, the mixed-use development envisions 380,000 square feet of residential uses with a mix of multifamily units and townhouses.

Jay Sotos, of developer Clark Realty Capital, pointed out that the proposed residential lots contain 55 active adult units and only 13 non-restricted units that would house an estimated 56 school-age students that would impact area schools. Additionally, the development will contain 197,000 square feet of commercial uses, including the proffered uses of a service station and a child care center.

Sotos told the council that letters of intent for those two uses have been signed by Sheetz and Primrose Schools.

The move to rezone the property, which has already been the subject of previous Town Council and Planning Commission public hearings for other approvals, was spurred by the applicant’s desire to drop the previously approved 110,000 square feet of office uses. Dropping the office use would render the application in noncompliance with its current zoning, which town planner Michael Watkins said requires a maximum ratio of two-and-a-half to one ratio between retail and office uses on the site. Change to the Planned Residential Neighborhood district eliminates that ratio.

Sotos emphasized that the applicant’s new proposal was a better use for the property.

“The current zoning doesn’t fit,” he said. “Let’s utilize that existing investment better.”

Sotos pointed to vacant office space in the nearby Uniwest development along Fort Evans Road as to why the applicant sought to drop the office use. He noted that that development has struggled for more than four years to fill its office space.

Sotos also noted that the active adult units are expected to create more tax revenue for the town than the office space would.

“We think it fits better within the context of this community,” he said.

While supporting the change, several council members pointed out there was no evidence of a firm commitment from Sheetz to build on the site, but said having a gas station there was important.

“I’m going to threaten you that if there is not a gas station in there by the end, you’re going to hear from me in very unpleasant tones,” Vice Mayor Kelly Burk said. “That’s what people want there.”

Hammler opposed the rezoning, saying she believed there were opportunities to better integrate office uses there.

In addition to the commercial and residential uses, the development will also contain a splash park area, a running trail along the border of the development and a shaded tree area.

Contact Kara Clark Rodriguez at krodriguez@loudounnow.com.

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