Developer details plans for Williamsburg Shopping Center

Contact Reporterwwright@vagazette.com

A Bethesda-based company has big plans for an area of Williamsburg that has under-performed in recent years.

Michael Jacoby, CEO of Broad Street Realty, spoke to dozens of people Tuesday at a roundtable hosted by the city’s Economic Development Authority.

Broad Street made its first purchase in the Historic Triangle area when it bought the Williamsburg Shopping Center in January for $13.3 million.

It owns similar retail properties in Virginia Beach, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Developers hope to entice a boutique hotel or select service hotel into the property it is calling Midtown Williamsburg.

The company is also in talks to buy the Monticello Shopping Center, which representatives expect to have closed on by the end of the year.

Jacoby said his staff approached the changes to Midtown a bit too tentatively at first.

Broad Street met with the city’s Architectural Review Board in July, and members told the firm it should be bolder.

“Staff told us they wanted us to be cool and edgy,” Jacoby said. “The problem was, we just didn’t believe them.”

Jacoby said Broad Street staff made changes to the original plans after talking among themselves and speaking with members of the Architectural Review Board.

The new plans offer more colors, namely a red-orange and yellow used on the exterior of the buildings, and more diversity in the texture and materials used.

“I leave that to the architects, though I know what I see and approve,” Jacoby said of the colors, which he acknowledged some may not like. “It’s hard. It’s kind of like the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a little bit.”

Sal's by Victor, the Virginia ABC store and Food Lion will all stay in the shopping center. Combined, the buildings total more than 350,000 square feet and will serve as Midtown’s anchor.

Broad Street will bring their plans to the city’s Planning Commission in a future meeting and eventually, company representatives will present them to City Council.

Council members have the final say on what the city will allow into Midtown.

The center is important because of its size — it’s the largest property in that area — and because of its proximity to other vital parts of the city.

"The Williamsburg Shopping Center occupies a critical anchor location that is also an entrance to the city's historic area and downtown," according to the city's economic development plan.

Broad Street crafted its residential plans thinking their new development will attract young people.

“These were definitely targeted toward students and young professionals, including recent graduates,” he said.

For the residential side of Broad Street’s plans, Jacoby said prices should be in line with other places in the area.

“Expect something commensurate with the market rate,” he said. “It might look a little more expensive, but that will be because all of the utilities would have been included,” he said.

By summer 2019, Jacoby said he’d like the entire process of converting the Williamsburg Shopping Center to be finished so students from the College of William and Mary can enter that fall.

Rick Overy, vice chairman of the city’s Economic Development Authority and a partner at Williamsburg wealth management firm Compass Wealth Strategies, realized just how much of a boon the changes could be if they are successful.

“It’s tremendous, exactly what’s coming down the pipe,” he said.

Wright can be reached by phone at 757-345-2343.

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