In a town nearing 100-percent buildout, development activity in the county seat keeps churning.
While 2019 saw many major land development applications come before the Town Council for review and approval, 2020 could be just as busy.
The New Year could bring some familiar faces, though. The council recently denied a rezoning application for the former Westpark Golf Club property, which would have netted the town an additional 96 townhomes, but ambiguity remains on the future for that land. Lennar Homes, the contract purchaser for the property, appeared inclined to pull out of the purchase, though the property remained under contract at year’s end. Nearby residents largely voiced support for commercial, rather than residential, development on the property, with a portion of the land zoned for a hotel use. Many had desired to see as much of the open space retained as park land, too.
The approval of a downtown residential development could see dirt moving in the historic area in 2020. Council members approved the Church & Market development, which will bring 116 rental apartments, over a structured parking garage, along with retail and office uses to the former Loudoun Times-Mirror property.
A new entrant to the fray could be the redevelopment of the Virginia Village shopping center. Property owner Brian Cullen has unveiled his plans for a large-scale rezoning 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. The plan is currently working its way through town staff review.
Leesburg looks to be growing not just in population, but in overall size, assuming a boundary line adjustment between it and the county goes through. The council initiated that process in late 2018 and it has had its bumps along the way, not the least of which was a summer 2019 Board of Supervisors’ decision to designate Loudoun Water the utility provider of choice in the Joint Land Management Area. Should the BLA go through, it would bring more of the burgeoning Compass Creek development into town. That property already includes the ION International Training Center and Walmart, and will soon include a 300-plus-acre Microsoft corporate campus and data centers. Early in 2020, the council will consider special exception applications on the property that would permit construction of four drive-through restaurants to the development. It will be interesting to see how the council handles that request as Peterson Companies, the property owner, has made approval of the special exceptions a condition of their own approval for agreeing to the BLA. Loudoun County requires property owner consent prior to the supervisors considering BLA approval.
How to handle all this growth expects to be a big part of conversation on the Town Council dais, in both the budget process and the consideration of two major plan adoptions. Town Manager Kaj Dentler, as recently as this fall, has warned the council that it may need to consider fee or tax rate increases to accommodate the needs of the growing town, with the addition of homes to service, lane miles and additional residents.
The council is also expected to consider the adoption of a small area plan for its Eastern Gateway District, which includes some of the last major redevelopment or development opportunities in town, as well as an update to its Town Plan.