Construction on the 20-home Blue Ridge Estates subdivision in Purcellville’s historic corridor is underway and slated for completion by early 2020.
Ground moving began last month on the 10-acre Ball property along 32nd Street directly behind the 7-Eleven. Unlike other recent developments in town, the neighborhood of 4,000-square-foot homes is being built “by-right”—meaning that it needed no special review by the Town Council.
According to Hobie Mitchel, the developer of the project, the development will bring several benefits to the town. In addition to rebuilding the historic stone wall along 32nd Street and working to preserve the trees in the area, work crews will add in a storm water detention area and a pedestrian trail along the roadway and through the development.
Through an agreement with the town, Mitchel’s crew will also replace the 50-year-old pump station with a new one that will better serve the thousands of residents on that side of town.
“That will take care of a lot things in the west end of town,” Mitchel said. “It was a win-win for everybody.”
Because the development is being built by-right, providing the town and residents with little say in the planning process, there has been some concern about construction, specifically the blasting taking place.
Town Manager David Mekarski said that a meeting was recently held with residents, representatives from the county fire marshal’s office, a handful of Town Council members, Capital Projects and Engineering Manager Dale Lehnig and the contractors that will carry out the blasting to address concerns and to ensure that the blasting would be done legally and with “minimal disturbance to property owners.”
“It looks like everything has been resolved,” Mekarski said. “[The contractors] really extended just tremendous customer service.”
In addition to the blasting being a potential nuisance to surrounding homeowners, it’s also put the historic Swan house at the center of attention. Purchased in 1918 by Harvey MacDaniel Ball Sr. as a place to raise his children, the property will soon be surrounded by four lots and a residential cul-de-sac.
Because the home’s basement walls are sensitive to blasting, Mekarski said the contractors would use a hoe ram to excavate in the areas immediately around the house, which will take a bit longer to complete than blasting.
He also said that the contractors will monitor the blasting with seismographs and will be in constant communication with the surrounding homeowners.
As for the adjacent Loudoun Golf & Country Club, construction doesn’t seem to be affecting golfers much. Oscar Homer, a 40-year member of the club, said that construction isn’t bothering him because it’s happening at the northeastern edge of the course—an area that features the practice green, but not close to any of the 18 holes.
Overall, Mitchel has been working with residents and town leaders to ensure construction goes smoothly. “We’re doing things at 40 percent of what you normally do and taking a lot of precautions,” he said.
Discussions about the use of the Ball property have been ongoing since 1952, the year that the town established its first zoning ordinance. The zoning of that area has remained the same since 1991, allowing for the construction of two single-family homes per acre.
Although the Ball family worked with a developer a few years ago that proposed to build a 40-unit community restricted to residents age 55 and older, but the backlash from residents put an end to those plans. It wasn’t until June that the town approved Mitchel’s plans for the current 20-home layout, which features a single entrance off of 32nd Street.
Mekarski said that the town is pleased with Mitchel’s coordination with staff and residents and that the development will be a good fit in the historic district. “It’s being done in a very attractive way that I think will compliment and probably enhance the home values up and down the street,” he said.
Mitchel said he’s hoping for the neighoborhood’s roads to be paved and a few spec homes to be built by the end of this year. By this time next year, about half of the development should be completed and ready to be sold from the low $600,000s. “They’re going to be really very nice houses,” he said.