City Council to discuss redevelopment, legislative agenda

Contact Reporterwwright@vagazette.com

Redevelopment plans for the Williamsburg Shopping Center will be up for approval at a City Council meeting Thursday, as will Williamsburg’s interests in the General Assembly.

Representatives from Broad Street Realty, the Bethesda-based company that bought the Williamsburg Shopping Center, have requested a special-use permit that would ease the redevelopment of their property.

Broad Street’s plans include student housing, 140-room hotel and thousands of feet of retail space. 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 the anchor of the new development. More than 100,000 square feet of retail are in current version of development plans

Broad Street CEO Michael Jacoby said at a Sept. 20 Planning Commission meeting that Broad Street was in talks with a “national organic food grocer who may or may not be owned by a company called Amazon.”

Amazon acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in August.

Jacoby did not return calls Tuesday seeking comment on whether those talks were continuing.

As far back as 2012-13, city staff acknowledged in the city’s comprehensive plan that a redeveloped shopping center had both residential and retail potential.

Representatives from Broad Street want a special-use permit to transform the shopping center into a residential and retail space.

Planning commission members voted 4-3 to recommend Broad Street Realty’s request. They are seeking four specific variances:

  • To permit four unrelated people to live together in its student-centered housing. The city limit is three.
  • To extend the city’s building height to 66 feet, up from the existing regulation of 45 feet.
  • To use 80 percent of the space in the new buildings as multifamily units. One floor would be for retail, and the remaining four for residential, multi-family space. The city currently allows 67 percent of a building to be used for multifamily units.
  • A reduction in open space at the center from 20 percent to not less than 15 percent. The site is currently 8 percent green space.

Commissioners decided to vote on the issue of four unrelated people to cohabiting separately.

They voted 5-2 on a zoning amendment that would allow Broad Street to house four non-family members together, but only in it’s four-bedroom apartments.

City Council will make the final decision on Broad Street’s plans. They are scheduled to vote on Broad Street’s proposals at Thursday’s meeting.

Legislative agenda

Assistant City Manager Andrew Trivette will provide an update on the city’s legislative agenda, which consists of the issues the city finds especially pertinent ahead of the upcoming General Assembly session.

Of particular importance this year are regulations of Internet-based businesses such and the requirements the state has on group homes.

Internet-based rental companies such as Airbnb and FlipKey have become popular nationwide by allowing visitors to rent a house or room in a house when they visit a new area.

Williamsburg allows short-term rentals at hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfasts and timeshares.

It’s important to find a policy on short-term rentals, Mayor Paul Freiling said.

“We can’t do nothing,” he said in September. “That’s going to tell the General Assembly that we didn’t really mean what we said when we wanted local control.”

On group homes, a home that had been located near Walsingham Academy moved into a different location in the city, but it is not required to inform the Williamsburg staff about the move.

City staff would prefer a policy in which localities are alerted of a group home’s intent to enter before the license for that group home is issued.

Council members will formally adopt the city’s agenda at a November meeting.

Want to go?

When: 2 p.m. Thursday

Where: Stryker Center, 412 N. Boundary St

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

Copyright © 2017, The Virginia Gazette
45°