Fredericksburg's first mixed-use project is growing into an upscale urban village that was envisioned at the old Park and Shop commercial center.
On Tuesday night, City Council approved the first reading for a rezoning for about 2 acres that will allow the construction of Eagle Village hotel. The final approval is likely to happen at the Feb. 28 meeting.
"I hope it all comes to fruition because it looks like a win-win for the city," said Fredericksburg Planning and Community Development Director Raymond Ocel.
The hotel is a 93-room, five-story, 66,500-square-foot hotel that is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2013. There will be about 1,600 square feet of retail space on the hotel's first floor. City officials have dubbed the redevelopment of this area from the Rappahannock River to Cowan Boulevard as the most ambitious projects noted in its conceptual redevelopment guide JumpStart! Action Plan. The study states that the total retail sales for the Jefferson Davis Highway corridor were $75 million, or 8 percent of total city sales.
This is the second of three phases of redevelopment that the University of Mary Washington Foundation has planned for the 21-acre property. The first phase completed in August 2010 includes Eagle Landing for student housing, a pedestrian bridge and a parking deck with numerous commercial pads on the first floor. The third phase hasn't been fully planned and will be determined by the market, but it will follow the "upscale urban village" format.
The Park and Shop center was built in the 1960s and was one of the few city commercial centers outside of downtown at the time. The UMW Foundation bought the property in 2007 and in March 2009 the City Council approved the first phase of the redevelopment project. About 16 months later, the first phase was finished.
The city government took great steps to make this project happen from a zoning and financial perspective. For instance, the city government did not request any monetary proffers or additional transportation improvements as part of the rezoning for Phase II.
The traffic surrounding this project is rated "D," which is one of the lowest levels. The traffic impact study estimates 2,978 new daily trips to this development. According to the traffic impact study, there will be additional traffic delays but the "D" rating during peak hours will remain. The developer will build a new right-in-right-out-only connector road from U.S. 1 to Sam Perry Boulevard that would reroute some traffic associated with the Mary Washington Hospital campus, according to the traffic impact study. Even at buildout over 10 years, the study states that the traffic will not worsen here. Council members did not ask any questions about the traffic study at Tuesday's public hearing.
The Fredericksburg Economic Development Authority agreed to $310,000 worth of Tourism Zone incentives for this project over 10 years. The Foundation states that financing for this project is already secured.
The city is anticipating big money from this project. The real estate revenues alone could be seven-times more than what the property is currently generating for the city, according to the application. The first year of the hotel is expected to generate $93,600 in real estate taxes for the city, $170,00 in hotel occupancy taxes, $31,000 in sales taxes, $15,000 in meals taxes and $11,000 in Business and Professional Occupational taxes. The average cost of a room is expected to be at about $110 a night.
"The grant was judged to be beneficial for the amount of revenue it would produce for the city, the employment it will render, capital investment, the addition of a lodging facility to serve the hospital and university communities plus other travelers and the continuation of development of the city’s first mixed use development project, Eagle Village," Fredericksburg's Director of Tourism and Economic Development Karen Hedelt said via an email. "I will add that the city incentive coupled with the state incentive has enabled the project to achieve financing in a very difficult market, especially for the hospitality industry."
This hotel development is likely to mean big changes for the Giant grocery store, too. The rezoning application states that Giant will continue to be the anchor of this development.
"It has indicated a willingness to reinvest in the design and layout of the new store to match the overall design scheme envisioned for Eagle Village," reads the application.
The city's JumpStart plan promotes redeveloping the aging strip malls into mixed-use centers that are pedestrian friendly with new office space, condos and townhouses. Phase one of the Eagle Village project transformed an outdated shopping center and increased the density and created much-needed Class A office space, Hedelt said. The investment of the new hotel project could possibly lead to the desired renovation of other businesses in Eagle Village, she said.
"The student housing at Eagle Village will enable the university to renovate its on-campus housing, which is overdue and will create a steady process of construction and improvement," she added. "The businesses at Eagle Village add diversity to the city’s business profile."
With the redevelopment of the Park and Shop center, next up could be the nearby Food Lion Shopping Center. The JumpStart! vision for the Food Lion area includes three new office buildings with 63,000 square feet of new space to front Jefferson Davis Highway. About 21,000 square feet of new retail and 300 total Condos and townhouses would be included to join with the established neighborhoods along Woodford Street and Fall Hill Avenue. There could be even another parking garage to service this development, which would create more open space.
Eagle Village hotel would be the city's 20th lodging facility. Here is a breakdown of the total in annual Hotel Occupancy Tax that the current 19 hotels pay:
2009 - $1,062,146
2010 - $1,186,926
2011 - $1,382,086