Leesburg Commission Supports Retail, Residential Developments

The Leesburg Planning Commission last week gave its approval to two new developments that will bring more retail and office development and residences.

The Church & Market project, on the site of the former Loudoun Times-Mirror building on East Market Street stretching back to the parking lot and alley that borders Church and Loudoun streets, could be a major boon for the downtown area, should the Town Council also support it. It’s a reincarnation of sorts for the former Courthouse Square project approved by the Town Council before the office market all but dried up. Now the developer is turning to the downtown area’s hot, but largely nascent, residential market. The applicant is seeking special exception approval for 116 multi-family units to be built over an up to 216-space parking garage and 15,000 square feet of retail and commercial office space in the formerTimes-Mirrorbuilding, as well as the first floor of the apartment building. A two-story addition to accommodate additional office space is proposed for the former Times-Mirrorbuilding.

Two different options to accommodate the parking for the project are proposed. Option A would provide 169 spaces inside the garage and an additional eight as surface parking around the building. Option B would place an automated lift system inside the garage. The garage could then accommodate 202 spaces, with an additional eight spaces provided as surface parking around the building. The inclusion of the automated lift system would, however, result in the reduction of 2,000 square feet of retail development that fronts on the alleyway. A total of 191 parking spaces are required for the development, but the applicant is seeking a shared parking reduction to 177 spaces for Option A, which would require approval from the Planning and Zoning Department. According to a staff report, the provision of the lift system envisioned in Option B is incumbent upon satisfactory agreement with the Town Council to provide an unrestricted public parking component to the plan.

At their June 6 meeting, commissioners recommended approval of the project by a 5-2 vote, with Chairman Doris Kidder and Commissioner Ad Barnes opposed.

That same night the commission also forwarded plans for a new retail development off Battlefield Parkway and Russell Branch Parkway, in front of the Lowe’s Home Improvement store, to the council with a unanimous recommendation of approval. In addition to a concept plan and proffer amendment, the applicant, Russell Branch LC, is seeking special exception approvals to allow the development of a 24-hour, eight-pump service station with a convenience store and self-service car wash; a 7,550-square-foot, 12-bay vehicle service facility; and a 6,000-square-foot car wash with an additional 5,000 square feet under a canopy area. Four other buildings, with retail, restaurant or other commercial uses, will be developed under the existing zoning and do not require any special exceptions, including a grocery store anchor which was announced as Leesburg’s first Aldi grocery store.

It will be a quick turn-around for the applicant, as the project is expected to be before the Town Council for a possible vote Tuesday night. The Church & Market project is expected to be before the council in July.

krodriguez@loudounnow.com

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