Letter: Ken Reid, Norfolk

Editor: On a trip to Northern Virginia this weekend to visit family, I noticed how Loudoun County and Leesburg are getting overloaded with very ugly townhouses.

I voted for a number of townhouse developments during my 10 years as a Loudoun supervisor and Leesburg councilmember, so I have no qualms with this kind of housing. However, I have never seen such ugly developments in this county in the 18 years I lived there.

Dark gray, dark brown and urine-colored yellow exteriors. … Big garish windows you’d see in office parks. Flat roofs with no pitches. The townhomes at One Loudoun and at Sycolin and Belmont Ridge roads resemble Soviet-era housing.  

I also was disappointed in the look of the Leegate development at Battlefield Parkway and Rt. 7, and even the Knutson townhouses on South King Street—which I supported and am glad came to fruition. Ugly browns and grays. Yuck.

Only the commercial building in front of the townhouses on South King seem to reflect Loudoun’s historic architecture, and the covered seated area adjacent to the town branch is very nice.

However, how could these facades pass the town’s Board of Architectural Review, which has jurisdiction over the design of both developments?  In my view, neither townhouse development reflects Leesburg’s colonial or Victorian charm.    

What happened to townhouses with brick or stone facades, or which use brighter colored siding, like white and light blue?  Where are the shutters and latticed windows to resemble Loudoun and Virginia’s historic homes? Nowhere.

I have been living in Hampton Roads the past few years and have never seen more dreadful looking townhouse developments as these. 

Perhaps this trend is because the town still has no decent design standards for new developments?  Or, is it due to the law that ended negotiations over cash proffers?   

Perhaps the county Board of Supervisors and town councils, in the future, can scrutinize these rezoning applications so Loudoun’s landscape is not littered in browns, grays and faded yellow. I’ll be back to check.    

Ken Reid, Norfolk

3 thoughts on “Letter: Ken Reid, Norfolk

  • 2020-10-26 at 9:50 am

    Ken, it’s all about profits. Developers are businessmen, in it to make a profit. Find some open space. Throw up some boxes as inexpensively as possible. Built with particleboard covered with plastic siding. All the same design and color to save money. Direct any spending to lobbying and marketing. Sell them for $500K and walk away.

    The ghettos of tomorrow. Imagine what these will look like in several years, as they deteriorate and the developers are long gone? Think they’ll look like the old buildings in downtown Leesburg or Purcellville?

    Politicians need financial support from developers to get elected. Do you expect them to push back?

  • 2020-10-26 at 10:25 am

    “urine-colored yellow exteriors”

    Which resembles the smell around the Leegate development at Battlefield Parkway and Rt. 7 too.

    Apparently, living across from the sewer treatment plant doesn’t bother these new residents.

  • 2020-10-26 at 12:46 pm

    It sounds like the writer just doesn’t like modern architecture, because I think those are the town houses he’s describing- problem is, many, many people do like it. It’s not like these developers are building (usually) ugly houses for fun or to save money. The town houses he describes, at least the ones I can think of, are generally the more expensive houses. The ones he’s talking about in One Loudoun must be the modern style ones in the Town center. Maybe he’s not aware of this, but those town houses sold out very fast and they were in the $1,000,000+ price range. I’m sure every person who spent such a large (ridiculous in my mind) amount of money on a town house loves the architecture. I like traditional and historic architecture, but not everything needs to be that, you need variation.

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