WINCHESTER — City Council on Tuesday endorsed a rezoning that sets the stage for Winchester Commons, a major residential and retail development that would be built between the southbound lanes of Interstate 81 and the Lowe’s home-improvement store at 2200 S. Pleasant Valley Road.
Castle Development Group (CDG) Holdings LLC, a division of Charlottesville-based Castle Development Partners, is proposing construction of 246 market-rate apartments and 18,000 square feet of commercial space on the 15.3-acre parcel of wooded land zoned Commercial Industrial (CM-1).
Since CM-1 zoning does not allow for any residential units, CDG Holdings asked council to rezone the property to Highway Commercial (B-2) with a Planned Unit Development (PUD) overlay.
According to documentation submitted to city officials, Winchester Commons is envisioned as a walkable community with 99 one-bedroom apartments, 111 two-bedroom units and 36 three-bedroom apartments contained in two four-story buildings with elevators, five three-story buildings without elevators and five two-story buildings without elevators.
The residential component of the development would include an 8,000-square-foot clubhouse for tenants, a saltwater swimming pool, outdoor recreational and grilling areas, parking and storage spaces, 6.4 acres of greenspace and a sheltered mail kiosk.
The commercial portion would include 18,000 square feet of space for multiple tenants, “one of which would likely be a food and beverage establishment including an 1,800-square-foot outdoor plaza/cafe,” according to information from the city’s Planning and Zoning Department.
Small trees would be planted throughout the development, and a row of tall evergreens would provide a buffer between the apartments and the heavily traveled I-81.
The development would be accessed from Legge and Patsy Cline boulevards, both of which connect to South Pleasant Valley Road. Since South Pleasant Valley is already engineered to handle high volumes of traffic, Winchester Public Services Director Perry Eisenach has said he does not see the need for CDG Holdings to prepare a traffic impact analysis.
The Planning and Zoning Department estimates the residential portion of the complex would house 20 school-age children at any given time. The costs of educating those children and providing emergency and infrastructure services to the development would be offset by tax revenues paid by the property owner and its residents. According to a fiscal impact analysis from CDG Holdings, the residential component of the project could add up to $347,380 in tax revenues to the city’s coffers every year.
Councilor Richard Bell, CEO of The Adams Cos. commercial real estate firm in Winchester, recused himself from Tuesday night’s discussion and vote on the Legge Boulevard rezoning due to a potential conflict of interest. The remaining eight councilors voted in favor of the change from CM-1 to B-2.
The rezoning clears the way for CDG Holdings to develop a site plan that must be approved by the city before the project can proceed. No estimate has been given for when that plan might be submitted.
In other business at Tuesday’s meeting and work session, City Council:
Unanimously approved regulations governing the operations of short-term rentals and homeshares. According to the rules, which had been in the works for nearly four years, people who own single-family homes and townhouses in downtown’s Central Business (B-1) and Residential Business (RB-1) zoning districts can rent out up to five rooms at a time for up to 30 days each, while owner-occupants of single-family homes and townhouses in the city’s other residential districts can rent out up to two rooms at a time for up to 30 days each. Anyone who wants to operate a short-term rental or homeshare, regardless of its location, will be required to obtain a conditional-use permit (CUP) from City Council, apply for a business license and pay lodging taxes to the city.
Unanimously agreed to table until Dec. 14 a proposal to add a PUD overlay to 28.26 acres of undeveloped land zoned Low Density Residential (LR) next to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. If approved, the rezoning would open the door for Elevate Homes of Maryland to build an age-restricted subdivision called The Preserve at Meadow Branch, which is proposed to include 74 high-end, single-family homes.
Voted 8-1 to recommend the second of two options for realigning the boundaries of Winchester’s four voting wards to keep the populations of each ward relatively equal. The preferred option would transfer 382 people from wards 2 and 4 into Ward 3. The shifts would occur in a semi-rectangular portion of land bordered by West Jubal Early Drive, Valley Avenue, Burton Street, Bellview Avenue and South Loudoun Street, and in a small rectangular strip of land bordered by Franklin Street, Pine Street, Orchard Avenue and Elm Street. Mayor and council President David Smith voted against the second option because he said he preferred the first choice that would have excluded the small rectangular strip.
Unanimously approved a CUP allowing JK Lee Services to convert 16 age-restricted apartments at 2270 Valor Drive into an assisted-living facility.
Unanimously agreed to forward a list of legislative priorities that council wants the Virginia General Assembly to consider when it convenes in January.
Held a first reading of a proposal to add a second Technology Zone in Winchester. Technology Zones are areas where high-tech businesses are encouraged to locate in exchange for tax incentives.
Unanimously agreed to set the value of a 0.08-acre portion of land recently vacated by the city at 145 Myrtle Ave. at $5,218.
Unanimously agreed to forward an annual report detailing Winchester’s use of Community Development Block Grant and HOME program funds awarded by the federal government.
Met in executive session for 40 minutes to discuss the possible acquisition of real estate and a proposed agreement with Frederick Water. No action was taken following the closed-door discussions.
Attending Tuesday night’s City Council meeting and work session in Rouss City Hall were Mayor and council President David Smith, Vice President Kim Herbstritt, Vice Mayor John Hill and members Les Veach, Evan Clark, Corey Sullivan, Phillip Milstead, Richard Bell and Judy McKiernan.