Church & Market Vote Expected Tonight

A vote could come tonight on an infill project that could significantly alter the appearance of downtown Leesburg.

The proposed Church & Market development would sit on the site of the former Loudoun Times-Mirror building on East Market Street and stretch back to the parking lot and alley that borders Church and Loudoun streets. It’s a reincarnation of sorts for the previously approved Courthouse Square project by the same developer. That predominantly office development was approved by the Town Council in 2012 before the office market all but dried up. Now the developer is turning to the downtown area’s hot residential market. The applicant is seeking special exception approval for 116 multi-family units—in the form of rental apartments—to be built over an up to 216-space parking garage and 15,000 square feet of retail and commercial office space on the former Times-Mirror property, as well as the first floor of the apartment building. A two-story addition to accommodate additional office space is proposed at the former Times-Mirror building, but that portion of the project may be developed by right and is subject only to design approval by the Board of Architectural Review, which was recently granted. 

The council deferred a decision on the project until Tuesday’s meeting, and discussion during a work session Monday focused largely on lingering concerns over the impact on traffic downtown; parking; and architectural features. 

If approved, the council will also need to decide how to accommodate parking for the residential and retail portions of the project. Two options are proposed by the developer. Option A would provide 169 spaces inside the garage and an additional eight as surface parking around the building. Option B would place an automated lift system inside the garage. The garage could then accommodate 202 spaces, with an additional eight spaces provided as surface parking around the building. The inclusion of the automated lift system would, however, result in the reduction of 2,000 square feet of retail development that fronts on the alleyway. A total of 191 parking spaces are required for the development, but the applicant is seeking a shared parking reduction to 177 spaces for Option A, which would require approval from the Planning and Zoning Department. According to a staff report, the provision of the lift system envisioned in Option B is incumbent upon satisfactory agreement with the Town Council to provide an unrestricted public parking component to the plan.

Blair White, vice president of Landmark Development, the developer behind the project, said that parking for the office development portion of the project, where the Times-Mirrorbuilding currently stands, would most likely come through paying into the town’s payment in lieu of parking fund.

While it’s unknown how the chips will fall should a vote on the project come tonight, at least two council members tipped their hand Monday. Both Vice Mayor Marty Martinez and Councilman Ron Campbell said they planned to vote to support the special exception Tuesday.

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