Apartment, Entertainment Complex Proposed In Purcellville

catoctin creek

Article courtesy of leesburgtoday.com http://m.leesburgtoday.com/mobile/news/apartment-entertainment-complex-proposed-in-purcellville/article_7a697c22-8432-11e3-ad5b-001a4bcf887a.html

The Franklin Johnston Group last week presented its proposal for the Catoctin Creek Towne Center—a development of multi-family apartments and an entertainment and sports center on 28 acres between Maple Avenue and Hirst Road in Purcellville—before a large crowd at the Purcellville Planning Commission meeting.

The project requires a Comprehensive Plan amendment, rezoning and special use permit. Once the project has gone through the regulatory process, the Franklin Johnston Group would purchase the acreage needed for the multi-family apartment component, while Tilley Entertainment would purchase the commercial portion of the property, according to a Franklin Johnston Group representative this week.

The Virginia Beach-based apartment development group, which manages apartment communities across the country, is proposing to provide more housing for workforce employees and seniors in the town and in western Loudoun in general. Bowman Consultants land use planner Chris Mohn cited a lack of affordable housing in the town, noting it had been 12 years since an apartment had been built in town. Representatives cited a regional housing study conducted by George Mason University’s School of Public Policy that concluded that over the next two decades more than half of new renters would need housing at less than $1,250 a month. The report also concluded that more multifamily housing was needed. According to the company presentation, Western Loudoun’s supply of rental housing available for workers coming to Purcellville is very limited, and a significant portion of the town’s workforce has to commute long distances to get to work because “there is no affordable housing in the area.”

Purcellville attorney Mark Nelis, representing the group, said, while people have objected to putting such a development at the northern entry to town, there is no other location available to meet that housing need. He maintained the location is “the best site in Purcellville to build this type of community.”

If the town wants more commercial development, as it has stated, the venture would provide an entertainment and sports complex on six acres that would provide a tourism focus, he said.

“That’s what the town says it wants—development within its borders before stepping beyond them,” Nelis said.

The entertainment complex would be located near the junction of Hirst Road and Maple Avenue, while two of the apartment buildings would front onto Hirst Road.

Thomas M. Johnson, chief development officer for the Franklin Johnston Group, said the project would include 176 apartments in seven buildings, with rents ranging from $1,050 per month for a one-bedroom unit to $1,450 for a three-bedroom unit. There would be 32 one-bedroom, 107 two-bedroom, and 37 three-bedroom units. The complex would provide total residential space of 226,997 square feet, a 3,444 square-foot-clubhouse and 408 parking spaces.

To mitigate concerns, particularly from residents in the nearby Old Dominion Valley subdivision, Johnston assured those present that efforts would be made to protect the Catoctin Creek watershed, and that the complex would make an “excellent living environment.” The design of the apartments incorporates features of area buildings, including the Train Station and the Public Safety Center, including hip roof, board batten and white trim. In addition to a clubhouse, cafeteria, a resort-style community pool, a spa/fitness center, there would be a number of grill stations located around the complex.

More than 4 acres on the southern-western portion of the site would be devoted to nature, with an extension of the Chapman-DeMary Trail to a 5-foot-wide trail for passive recreation, plus a tree conservation area. A tree-buffered area would separate the development from Old Dominion Valley and trees also would be planted along Maple Avenue and Hirst Road.

The company has proposed a contribution of up to $1 million for road improvements at the Hirst Road/Rt. 287 intersection—long a traffic bottleneck—which transportation consultants had advised would be the best place to make such proffers, considering the level of delays, and one at which VDOT was already looking to improve.

The financial benefits accruing to the town would include: road improvements, tap fees of $1.4 million, increased personal property and real estate taxes, projected meal and sales taxes, and re-curing water and sewer fees of $180,000. Trash collection would be provided by the company. The complex would employ approximately 100 people.

The financing structure is based on the wages and salaries of employees residing at the complex, Johnston said. The company envisions approximately $20 million in conventional financing and $13.5 million in Federal Housing Administration tax credits. An income range of between $25,000 and $70,000 is projected for the majority of renters, with the number of residents per unit expected to average two for a total community population of 352. Johnston also claimed that 75 percent of prospective residents already work in western Loudoun. Harris Teeter, the town’s largest employer, has already welcomed the project as a needed home for their employees living in the area, according to Johnston.

“This will be a really, really nice community, with quality people,” Johnston said.

The entertainment/sports complex will be managed by Tilleys Entertainment. According to Billy Tilley, attractions in the center will include a bumper boat pond; miniature golf; a windmill and a rope bridge; batting cages for baseball and softball; bowling; a two-story, 2,000 square-foot laser tag area; a go-kart track; ice cream huts; a sports bar; a large restaurant; party rooms; a games arcade; and a 3-acre tented event area for company outings, youth groups, neighborhood parties and families reunions. Projecting further out, Tilley said he hoped to install an amphitheater for events like car shows, festivals, craft shows, town events and concerts.

A Planning Commission public hearing on the application will be scheduled for mid-to late February.

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