With public reactions that ranged from excitement to outright rejection, Colonial Williamsburg’s pitch for Goodwin Square became a hot-button issue in the city, and the first in a series of changes on the horizon for downtown Williamsburg.
CW unveiled the project last October, with a proposal to redevelop the busy P3 parking lot behind the Blue Talon Bistro into a public plaza with outdoor seating for surrounding restaurants, a children’s play fountain and a 12-by-19-foot video screen.
The parking lot at the center of Merchants Square would have been demolished in order for the proposed plaza to become a reality, eliminating 40 parking spaces from the 48-spot parking lot.
Following months of pushback from the public at city meetings and online, Colonial Williamsburg withdrew the proposal earlier this month before City Council could rule on it, citing concerns about the loss of parking spaces and the idea of the video screen.
Although plans for Goodwin Square have been scrapped for now, other changes could still be coming to Merchants Square and the rest of downtown Williamsburg in the next few years.
A downtown vibrancy study commissioned by the city’s Economic Development Authority suggests redeveloping the P6 lot, located between Francis, Henry, Boundary and Ireland streets, into a three- to four-story mixed-use residential and retail center. The report also suggests a townhouse development to be built at the Peacock Hill horse pasture.
Jeff Duncan, Colonial Williamsburg’s vice president of real estate, has also expressed that the Foundation is interested in redeveloping the Goodwin Building. Located on North Henry Street, the 30,000-square-foot building was used as CW’s administrative offices for 78 years before it was vacated last May with plans to market and convert it into retail or residential space.
Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.