Study Continues of Round Hill’s Commercial Center Options

The contract purchasers of the 13-acre commercially zoned property on Round Hill’s eastern boundary are hoping to win community support for a mixed-use development on the land. 

The land was part of the 1,200-home Intergate rezoning approved three decades ago, but has remained vacant. Investors led by Ted Britt, a co-founder of Tri-Tek Engineering, have had the property under contract for several years and have been examining potential uses for the tract at the northeast quadrant of the Evening Star Drive/Loudoun Street intersection.

Appearing at last week’s Town Council meeting, Britt again made a pitch for town leaders to support a mixed-use concept for the property after finding that there isn’t demand for a 150,000-square-foot commercial center. Instead, they have been working with planners on a layout with a smaller retail and office component along with residential uses that would both support the commercial uses and provide a buffer to nearby homes.

Last year, the purchasers hired the Alexandria planning firm LandDesign to examine options of the land. LandDesign partner Stephanie Pankiewicz said the planning team met with the town staff last fall to present the mixed-use concept that was developed after looking at the town’s demographics of young families and the 2017 retail market analysis conducted by Arnett Muldrow to come up with a vision of a live-work community that would be designed as an extension of the downtown. 

Britt said the proposal is not a finished plan, but something they want to work with town leaders to flesh out and create “a really successful project for all involved.” He said the contract purchasers have been looking for commercial users for years but haven’t found a good fit. A hotel, senior living community and restaurants are among the uses under consideration along with retail and office uses. 

“We keep coming back to this as what we think is the best alternative for the property,” he said.

Attorney Randy Minchew also is working on the project and laid out two options for the town to allow a mixed-used option for the property, either adding residential uses as a special exception within the town’s commercial zoning district or creating a new mixed used zoning district to which the property could be rezoned. Under either path, Minchew noted there would be public hearings before the Planning Commission and Town Council and the town could imposes conditions on the development. 

Mayor Scott Ramsey noted the town’s comprehensive plan does not rule out mixed-use development on the land, but recognizes that it is the last undeveloped commercial site in town and preserving opportunities for commercial development is the priority. 

“We’re not looking for residential,” she said. “Our aim is to have a commercial component in town.” But he also said town leaders recognized that the economic environment is different than when the rezoning was approved in 1990 and wouldn’t shut the door on other opportunities. However, a smaller commercial center of 30,000 square feet and adding 100 homes probably isn’t the balance they are looking for, he said.

Councilman Michael Hummel, who serves on the Planning Commission, suggested a charette-type work session with the commission and town residents to take the planning concepts to the next step. 

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