A new development application headed toward the Town Council dais in the coming months could bring something many think downtown Leesburg needs more of—rooftops.
It’s proposed on a property off King and South streets in the downtown area that has some history to it. In 2008, Waterford Development received special exception approval to construct a parking garage and commercial space along the Town Branch. Jan Zachariasse, president and CEO of Waterford Development, had envisioned a walkable, pedestrian-oriented commercial space that would bring foot traffic to an area more used to passing cars and crossing cyclists off the W&OD Trail.
But the economic recession stalled those plans, and the land was eventually put up for sale. Now, Don Knutson, who was most recently responsible for the townhouse units in the Crescent Place development, is under contract to purchase the land.
Knutson is proposing to construct four four-story buildings with 68 two-bedroom, multi-family units and a 4,000-square-foot building, with retail or restaurant uses on the ground floor and office above. If approved, the residential units would be located on two acres on the east side of South King Street along Town Branch and the W&OD Trail.
An existing 3,100-square-foot office building on the site will also be part of the project. Knutson is also proposing to make improvements to the Town Branch and add a small pocket park on the site, right across from the town’s Georgetown Park, which he said will be a nice tie-in to the nearby trail and passive park amenities. He is working with the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority to make improvements to the area near the existing trail.
The developer said he continues to hear a high level of interest from people interested in living within close walking distance to the downtown area and W&OD Trail.
“This is a location that offers excellent walkability to all the benefits of town. It’s also close to the restaurant district and shops so I do believe that, just like we’re having success at Crescent Place, that I can have success here,” he said, further calling the property “a gateway site into Leesburg.”
Just as with Crescent Place, Knutson believes the one- and two-bedroom residential units will attract two key demographics for the downtown area—millennials who crave a more urban lifestyle, and older couples or individuals looking to downsize and forego the maintenance of a yard, while being within walking distance to area amenities.
“A key component of revitalizing downtown Leesburg is people who live and play and perhaps work right in downtown Leesburg. And Crescent Place is proof positive of the fact that people want to park their cars, walk down and take advantage of the town,” he said. “This will be further evidence of that trend.”
Knutson said with the proposed mix of uses, plus civic improvements, it’s an application that “touches all the bases.”
Deputy Director of Planning and Zoning Brian Boucher is the project manager for the town overseeing review of Knutson’s project. The applicant has already been before the Board of Architectural Review for initial feedback on site, scale, massing and building location, but, pending approval of the requested special exception, will need to go back to the BAR to receive a Certificate of Appropriateness for project design. The BAR has already signed off on the demolition of the existing buildings on the site, which includes the Battery Warehouse.
Boucher said the application is likely to begin its legislative review, with trips to the Planning Commission and Town Council, in the fall.
In this occasional series, Loudoun Now will take a close look at key properties in the Town of Leesburg. Many of these properties have the potential, some with active plan review applications, to be the cite of some major development, or redevelopment, projects in the town.