Discussion on one of the largest redevelopment projects in Leesburg’s recent history will continue into 2022.
During the Town Council’s Monday night work session, a majority of the members indicated a preference to await a vote on the Virginia Village application until the council’s Jan. 11 meeting. The two-hour work session discussion followed a Nov. 26 public hearing that featured dozens of community residents who spoke in support of the project.
The proposal involves three requests: a Town Plan amendment to change 2.68 acres of the 18.48-acre property from a Downtown designation to Crescent Design District; rezoning the entire 18.48 acres to CD-RH (Crescent District-Residential High Density) or CD-CC (Crescent District-Commercial Corridor); and a special exception to permit alteration of the floodplain along a portion of the Town Branch to permit the construction of a pedestrian bridge linking the development to Harrison Street and Raflo Park.
In what applicant Brian Cullen of Keane Enterprises has characterized as a litmus test of sorts for the council’s vision for the town’s Crescent District redevelopment zone, his redevelopment plan calls for a mixed-use community with ample green and amenity spaces, parking structures mostly hidden within buildings in keeping with the town’s Crescent Design District standards, and 643 residential units—the majority of which are multi-family units for rent—with over 165,000 square feet of commercial uses throughout the property, the majority of which are located below residences.
During Monday’s meeting. council members posed questions to Cullen and shared their initial thoughts or concerns.
Mayor Kelly Burk, who pointed out at the beginning of her comments that she lived nearby Virginia Village, said the whole concept of redeveloping the decades-old shopping center was very exciting. But she narrowed her concerns on the amount of parking provided in the project; the size of the buildings proposed along Catoctin Circle; and the traffic that would be generated from the mixed-use development. Some of those same concerns were voiced at the Planning Commission, which recommended denial of the rezoning portion of the application but supported the special exception and Town Plan amendment.
Burk was among those advocating a delay until January, with the council’s first business meeting set for Jan. 11. Cullen and council members in favor of a vote as early as the following night questioned what would change between now and next month to have the council more ready to vote.
“If we’re kicking the can down the road and waiting for something that’s not going to change your mind then let’s not kick the can down the road,” Councilwoman Kari Nacy said.
Councilman Neil Steinberg, however, said a few weeks’ delay was not unwarranted.
“I fully appreciate how long this process has been going on. There’s no question this will be a town-changing project. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to take the information tonight and go over it in our own individual heads and take a vote on it at our first meeting in January,” he said.
After the meeting, Councilman Zach Cummings, who along with Vice Mayor Marty Martinez and Councilman Ara Bagdasarian indicated support for a vote on Tuesday, expressed his frustration.
“I’m very disappointed that after hundreds of hours of work by the applicant, staff, the Planning Commission and council we decided to kick the can down the road. We will get this passed, but it’s a real thumb in the eye to those that want to invest in Leesburg,” he said.
For more information about the project, go to loudounnow.com/virginiavillage.