Goodwin Square up for Planning Commission review next week

Staff writer

After being reviewed by the city’s Architectural Review Board and pitched as a possible recipient of the city’s SB 942 funds, Colonial Williamsburg’s proposed Goodwin Square will next be up for Planning Commission consideration at its meeting Wednesday.

The proposed downtown plaza, which would replace the busy P3 parking lot bordered by North Henry, West Duke of Gloucester, North Boundary and Prince George streets, would include space for a temporary video screen along with outdoor seating, ample open space, a children's splash pad at its center and a restroom building.

If approved, Colonial Williamsburg also would eliminate 40 of the existing 48 parking spaces there, but would keep some handicap parking spots. Colonial Williamsburg Vice President of Real Estate Jeff Duncan also has mentioned the possibility of keeping a short-term parking space open to the general public.

Traffic would still be allowed to enter the square from Boundary or Henry streets and exit back onto Boundary or Prince George streets. The alleyway next to Blue Talon Bistro — currently open to traffic — would primarily be used as a pedestrian walkway under the new design, Duncan said. Bollards would be added to the alleyway to allow pedestrians but restrict vehicle access; they would retract to allow emergency vehicles to enter the plaza.

He said the alleyway could be closed occasionally for special events.

Duncan said he sees the plaza as a way to bolster visitation downtown by creating a new gathering space to accompany Duke of Gloucester Street, but the project faced community pushback when it first appeared before city boards last year.

Last November, Planning Commission voted 5-1 to approve the square and pass the proposal onto City Council, but it set a limit that the screen should be in the plaza for no more than three consecutive days and for a maximum of 25 times per year.

Colonial Williamsburg withdrew its requests before they could reach City Council late last year, citing the city’s downtown parking study and public concerns about a then-proposed permanent video wall.

Williamsburg Planning Director Carolyn Murphy said the city’s planners could implement a similar limit on the number of days the screen would be allowed in the plaza if they choose to.

CW will present applications to city planners that would define and allow private plazas in the city’s downtown business district with a special-use permit, allow the removal of 40 parking spaces in the P3 lot, and finally, to construct Goodwin Square with a special-use permit.

Duncan said the project is contingent upon receiving city funding through a portion of its share of SB 942 tax revenue. CW has requested $2 million spread over five years, or $400,000 each year.

When the project was proposed last year, Colonial Williamsburg asked the city’s Economic Development Authority for $130,348 to cover a portion of the costs to demolish the P3 lot.

If the applications are approved by Planning Commission, they will be passed onto City Council for final consideration at its September meeting. Duncan has said that if the project is approved and funded by the city, construction on Goodwin Square could begin in early January and be finished by late spring.

Meeting details:

Where: City Council Chambers, Stryker Center, 412 N. Boundary St.

When: 3:30 p.m. Wednesday

Rodrigo Arriaza,, 757-790-9313, @rodrigoarriaza0

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