JK Moving CEO Asks Purcellville to Consider Annexing Properties for Industrial Use

Two years ago, the Purcellville Town Council rejected an application to annex a property that could have provided the town with millions of dollars in revenue. Now, the council is considering annexing that same property—but this time with different proposed uses.

JK Moving Founder, President and CEO Chuck Kuhn proposed to the Town Council Tuesday night an idea that could see the town annex 250 acres of property adjacent to Purcellville’s corporate limits and rezone it for commercial and light industrial uses, such as for warehousing, distribution, light manufacturing, gyms and automotive businesses. About 130 acres of that land borders the town to the west and 120 acres is the former Warner Brook property, which the Warner family previously sought to have annexed into the town but later sold to Kuhn after the Town Council denied their annexation application.

In addition to selling space to industrial businesses, Kuhn said he could also build one or two 100,000-square-foot buildings on the properties for his company. “JK Moving Services could use a remote storage facility out here,” he said.

Kuhn said he would like the properties to be zoned similar to the county’s Planned Development – Industrial Park zoning designation, which allows for data centers to go in by-right. Kuhn, however, emphasized that he was not proposing to bring data centers to western Loudoun. He did, however, assert that data centers would help to bring broadband to the rural west—an issue frequently discussed among the Board of Supervisors, especially as thousands of school students are attending class online.

Generally speaking, Mayor Kwasi Fraser said he was not opposed to data centers going up in western Loudoun, as long as they could be built to look like barns or mansions and their pollution could be mitigated.

“I don’t want to take data centers off the table,” he said. “We just have to make them be built uniquely. … We need to innovate.”

Kuhn also said it was not his intention to build homes on the properties.

“It’s a blank canvas,” he said about the project. “I don’t have a driving agenda that I’m trying to push down the council’s throat.”

In noting that the town’s existing industrial park is “very successful,” Kuhn told the council that annexing the properties and rezoning them for industrial use would help to clean up Main Street by moving existing industrial uses out of that area of town.

“I don’t think the main street through our prime town is the best use of industrial uses as a whole,” he said. “We do not need more rooftops in western Loudoun. I feel we need more commercial, we need more employment, we need more tax base.”

Financial Benefit to the Town

According to Kuhn’s business partner, Hobie Mitchel, the proposed industrial park would have an assessed value of $101 million at buildout. He said that could provide the town with $1.8 million in utility connection fee revenue, $224,000 in annual tax revenue and $140,000 in annual utility usage fee revenue.

Kuhn said “economically, the Town of Purcellville is in trouble”—referencing the town’s shrinking water and sewer funds amid no utility rate increases in Fiscal Year 2021 and an absence of utility connection fee revenue. “Change has to happen.”

Fraser acknowledged that the town had “significant debt” that is entirely attributed to the purchase and upgrade of the Basham Simms Wastewater Facility—a treatment plant that can treat 1.5-million daily gallons of sewer water, but treats only 575,000 daily gallons, according to the town website.

The town upgraded that treatment plant in 2010 for $30 million, $5 million of which came from a Virginia Department of Environmental Quality grant, $24 million from Virginia Resources Authority bonds, $285,500 from Bank of America, and the rest from town funds.

Fraser said that was “an asset that can be monetized” by bringing in a large sewer user.

“This is an opportunity for us to look at ways to again monetize our assets and also ways to partner with other entities within and outside of the town to drive economic growth,” Fraser said. “[In] the recent election … the message was loud and clear that we would look at innovative solutions and solutions that would not require us raising the taxes significantly or raising water and sewer rates.”

The former Warner Brook property that JK Moving CEO Chuck Kuhn has purchased and asked Purcellville to consider annexing. [Patrick Szabo/Loudoun Now]

The Town Council in October 2018 voted to deny a request to annex the same Warner Brook property that Kuhn is now asking the council to annex. Two years ago, the Warner family proposed to develop 160 single-family homes, 15,000-square-feet of office space, an outdoor recreational area with a soccer field and trails, a commercial village with a small town center, 70,000-square-feet of retail space, and an indoor recreation center with a 120,000-square-foot soccer field on that property.

According to estimates made by the Warner family’s consultant, that development could have provided the town with nearly $11 million in utility connection fee revenue and about $1 million in net annual tax revenues.

Fraser and Councilmen Ted Greenly, Joel Grewe and Tip Stinnette were on the council for that vote. All of them aside from Grewe voted to deny the annexation.

Kuhn ended up purchasing that property from the Warner family for $3,250,000.

Resident Concern

Kuhn’s Tuesday night proposal drew some concern from area residents.

Some of that concern came from Wright Farm resident Lydia Clark, who insinuated that the proposed 50-foot buffer between the industrial park and the residential neighborhood was not enough space because of the noise and light pollution and increased traffic the park would bring.

Kuhn said that buffer could be negotiated.

When Clark asked Kuhn why he wanted to move to, and develop, western Loudoun, Kuhn said that desire was driven by “purely land cost.” He said an acre of commercial/light industrial land in eastern Loudoun typically goes for $500,000 to $2 million.

“It’s getting too expensive down there in my opinion,” he said.

Kuhn also noted that there exists a “major heavy industrial park” next to a Toll Brothers neighborhood off Old Ox Road in Sterling where kids get on school busses next to dump trucks and tractor trailers.

Clark said that example proved her point—that industrial uses don’t fit next to residential neighborhoods.

“They don’t want it in Ashburn or Sterling, I’m pretty sure that people are not going to want it out here in Purcellville,” she said.

Kuhn specified that he is not proposing to build a street through Wright Farm neighborhood to access the industrial park.

He said he would like to meet with town leaders again in 30 to 60 days to discuss the feedback the town receives from residents. “This is one conceptual idea,” Kuhn said. “If there’s a better idea that better serves everyone we mentioned, let’s get back in front of one another 30 days from now, 60 days from now and let’s strategize on that opportunity.”

pszabo@loudounnow.com

This story was updated Oct. 13 at 4:15 p.m. to reflect the $3.25 million Kuhn paid to purchase the Warner property, which Kuhn clarified on Tuesday.

5 thoughts on “JK Moving CEO Asks Purcellville to Consider Annexing Properties for Industrial Use

  • 2020-10-07 at 4:39 pm
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    I am confused, so how does one make a 100,000 square foot data center look like a “barn” or a “mansion?” That would be one heck of a barn of house? Also, datacenters need lots of electricity so will there now also be new massive towering pylons on the way further down Main Street or Route 7 By-pass as well?

    And what happened to the “Small Town” no growth pledge of the Council? I guess rejecting Warnerbrook did not turn out so well.

    So Ashburn IS coming to Purcellville after all, north and south it appears.

  • 2020-10-07 at 4:55 pm
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    This is a good idea. This land will not sit vacant for too much longer and light industrial use is much better than adding homes.

    Purcellville needs the money.

    Don’t let the Council screw this up, please.

  • 2020-10-07 at 5:31 pm
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    No one in western Loudoun should ever trust Chuck Kuhn, Hobie Mitchel, Mayor Kwasi Fraser, County Board of Supervisors, Loudoun County Economic Development (Godfather of Data Center Alley; soon to be the Godfather of Data Center Valley…western Loudoun as he lives comfortably as one of the top government paid officials with our tax money in Ashburn).

    Mayor Kwasi Fraser is absolutely clueless about building data centers to look like barns or mansions. The Godfather of Data Center Alley waited nearly 10 years to address data center building design.

    Simply the goal of data center owners is to minimize cost and maximize development (SF). Get ready western Loudoun! The liberal peeps are coming west to build anything and everything to pay for the selfish liberal ideology through more development and the government will raise taxes. Drain the Loudoun County Government Swamp!!!

  • 2020-10-08 at 12:41 pm
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    Data centers are NOT coming to western Loudoun. They need huge amounts of water, power and fiber optic connections- none of which exist or can easily be brought out to Purcellville in the capacities needed for data centers. They are only barely getting to Leesburg now and it will take probably one to two decades to build out the available land for data centers on the south side of Leesburg and the north side of the greenway (where they do actually have power, water and fiber). BTW- most new data centers aren’t 100,000 SF- they are generally 200,000- 400,000+ SF per building and generally have multiple buildings per complex.

    Data centers aside, this is a great idea. There’s a huge lack of industrial and flex industrial buildings in this County. Just look at the current industrial parks in Purcellville and how built out they are. That’s basically the only industrial park in the western half of the County. Personally, I’m not really sure why the County never zoned any land in the west for an industrial park, but most likely they left that up to the Towns since they have the utilities. At any rate, I’d rather see some nice looking flex industrial buildings (that generally look like offices from the front) than more houses- and it would be better for everyone’s taxes and the environment (less people having to drive long ways to work) too.

  • 2020-10-13 at 8:33 am
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    At what point do we acknowledge that Fraser and team is the good ole boys that he paints his challengers as…. been back door deal after back door deal.

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