The former Walmart store in Leesburg is in for a serious makeover.
The Town Council Tuesday voted to approve a special exception application for Floor & Decor Outlets America, Inc. The national retailer will assume the vacant 97,000-square-foot storefront off Edwards Ferry Road and Rt. 15 in the Shenandoah Square shopping center.
Although Floor & Decor’s proposed use is allowable under the existing B-3 zoning, the proffers associated with the site prohibit lumber and building materials sales, which is how the new use for the site has been classified. Senior Planning Projects Manager Scott Parker emphasized that only the five acres of the site that include the building will be rezoned to the B-3 use. The remainder of the property will still be subject to the existing proffers on the site.
As part of its application, Floor & Decor proffered out certain uses on the site. Those excluded uses include a funeral home, commuter parking lot, and a club. The applicant also proffered to upgrade landscaping and make other site improvements, including enhancements to vehicular travel ways within the shopping center and a pedestrian connection to Heritage Way near the store’s new customer service section, replacing Walmart’s former garden center.
Traffic into and out of the shopping center is expected to be less than when Walmart was in operation. Brad Lauth, of CenterPoint Integrated Solutions, representing the applicant, noted that at peak times there are only 80 to 100 customers in the store.
The Leesburg store will be the first Floor & Decor shop to debut its new “shop in shop” center, a more enhanced design center. Its exterior architectural features will require approval by the Board of Architectural Review as the property falls within the Gateway District.
Prior to the vote, Mayor Kelly Burk acknowledged that “ideally” it would have been nice for the former Walmart store to have been converted into a new store that also provided groceries and other essentials to nearby neighbors.
“We recognize that that area really needs a food store, but we can’t dictate that,” she said. “We are delighted this project is going in there. It will no longer be an abandoned site.”
Councilman Zach Cummings, while equally supportive of Floor & Decor’s arrival to town, also voiced concerns that the highly pedestrian-trafficked area was becoming a “food desert” in an area where many residents do not have access to vehicles to drive to other grocery stores.
“I would hope that in the future someone can bring forward groceries to residents of that neighborhood,” he said.
The vote to approve the special exception application passed by a 6-0-1 margin, with Councilwoman Kari Nacy absent for the meeting.