A potential catalyst project for Leesburg’s Crescent District has taken its first steps toward reality.
Keane Enterprises has filed plans to rezone the 18.48-acre Virginia Village shopping center, which it acquired two years ago. The 62-year-old retail center along Catoctin Circle was a destination shopping spot upon its arrival into town and over the years has attracted its share of notable tenants, including the recent arrival of Doner Bistro. But with an eye toward the changing market and building on town efforts to expand the downtown fabric with projects likeCrescent Place and King Street Station, owner Brian Cullen is hoping the “reimagined” second coming of Virginia Village will follow on others’ success.
Walking into Keane Enterprises’ Virginia Village office on Fairfax Street, it’s clear that Cullen has an appreciation of the history of the development, as well as an eye to its future. Signs announcing “Established 1957” and “Reimagined 2019” greet you upon your arrival. Cullen also proudly shows off a development artifact, a brochure from the Village’s early days that the Ours family, the center’s long-time owners, shared with him. His plans eye a significant changes for the property. The rezoning application calls for a mixed-use development that includes up to 70,000 square feet of ground floor retail; 105,000 square feet of office uses; 490 multi-family residential units; 68 condominium units; 47 townhouse units; and 42 two-over-two dwelling units. The development also includes a significant amount of structured parking for the uses envisioned.
In the statement of justification given to town staff, Keane Enterprises notes that it at first contemplated simply updating and repositioning the shopping center, but after discussions with town planners, “it gradually concluded that a more comprehensive redevelopment of the existing shopping center into a vibrant mixed-use community would provide a much-needed renewal for this section of Town in a way that accommodates the Town’s future growth, unifies downtown Leesburg and the Crescent District, and provides a catalyst project for this section of Town.”
Cullen said his view of the project is that it will have a minimal added traffic impact on the road network, and that the economic development potential of the site cannot be overstated.
“Look at what the town has left; there are very few greenfield sites,” he said. “The 425 acres in the Crescent District … that’s where your economic development is going to come from.”
Along the way, Cullen has also relied on public opinion of the site’s redevelopment concepts, using the CoUrbanize site to solicit feedback and engage the community on the project. One major tenet of the project —keeping 25 percent of the property as open space, including park and amenity areas—came from that public opinion. In addition to the ample park space, the project also includes the Ours Overlook, a park and pedestrian bridge linking the community to Harrison Street named in honor of the original owners of Virginia Village; an amphitheater; and space for the farmer’s market to continue operations.
With the project’s first submission comments now sent back to the applicant, it could be a few months yet until the rezoning works its way through the legislative process, with initial review by the Planning Commission prior to heading to the Town Council for final action. Cullen also said he plans to begin meeting with nearby neighborhoods this fall.
“We’re trying to get people to embrace what it will feel like,” he said.
While he submitted plans for the entire project, Cullen said, if approved, the development would likely be constructed in at least two phases. There’s also the potential it would be phased by type of product, he said. There are three properties adjacent to Virginia Village that are not a part of the development—the Rite Aid store, the barber shop along Catoctin Circle, and the used car shop off the intersection of Fairfax and King streets.
The CoUrbanize site for the project remains open, and Cullen encourages the public to stay updated on the project and share any comments or questions. To reach the site, go tocourbanize.com/projects/virginia-village/information. Documents for the rezoning application are available on the town’sleesburgva.govwebsite, under the LIAM Interactive Applications Map.