The Virginia Village shopping center has officially changed hands, ending more than six decades of ownership by the Ours family.
The 18-acre property was sold Wednesday to Keane Enterprises, led by local developer Brian Cullen. Cullen has been behind several big name projects in Leesburg and greater Loudoun for the past three decades, including Oaklawn in Leesburg; the Ashburn Ice House; and Willowsford in Aldie.
Located off the corner of Catoctin Circle and King Street, Virginia Village began in 1955 under the vision of John Ours, who was Leesburg’s first commercial developer. Ours was attracted to the property due to the town’s nearby water and sewer plant, which has since moved, and the ability to rezone from agriculture to highway and village commercial use. Then, he was able to offer space to the Alcoholic Beverage Control store, which still operates there today. He would also land a Safeway store, which is now a Rite Aid, to anchor the shopping center.
After John Ours’ death in 1991, the property continued in the family and was owned and operated by sons Brian, Warren, and John.
Today, many of the 35 tenants that remain in the center’s office and retail space have been there for decades.
“Dad was famous for helping people get their business up and running,” Brian Ours said. “In fact, we just came across Bruce Roberts’ original business plan for the pharmacy, which is now run by the daughter of the former owners of the Ben Franklin store that used to be in Virginia Village. And a lot of the tenants are in their second and third generation of family ownership.”
The decision to sell the property to Cullen was an easy one for the Ours’ sons, as Cullen is a local name with familiarity and appreciation for the town.
“We wanted the property to go to someone local, with a face and a name, who would carry on the stewardship but also give Virginia Village a renewed sense of vitality and vibrancy,” Brian Ours said. “Brian [Cullen] is very sensitive to the tradition and the history, as well as to what the town needs in the future. He’s the right guy to do this and I feel really, really good about it.”
Cullen said he has long loved the Virginia Village shopping center because of its legacy in the town. Attracted to doing business near downtown Leesburg because of its “authenticity”, Cullen said when he caught wind of the brothers’ interest in selling the property he arranged a meeting late last summer. The ball started rolling from there.
“The authenticity of downtown is what people are trying to replicate in other town centers,” Cullen noted. “There’s some great things being done in the county. If we can create something that fits into the fabric that leverages off the authenticity of downtown that is really what’s attractive to me.”
For now, Cullen says he is honoring the leases of the Village’s current office and retail tenants. He said he is also looking for new tenants to fill in the center’s vacancy that will drive more activity to the center. Although he envisions a site that could yield a mix of uses, including residential, he said the town will first need to step up to the plate with its Crescent District design regulations before he sets off on any redevelopment plans.
“When, and if, there is alignment between what the town wants under the Crescent Design District zoning and what Virginia Village could become, we will have a dialogue about redevelopment plans that would best serve everyone involved.”