Prince William supervisors to take up Potomac Shores development


Potomac Shores’ developers are seeking an approval from Prince William officials to reorganize its town center, among other changes. Shown is a depiction of developers’ visions for its Main Street, which would be surrounded by housing and retail space. (Courtesy Hart Howerton/SunCal)
July 12, 2013

The proposed Potomac Shores development on the eastern end of Prince William County is scheduled to face a key hurdle Tuesday, as the Board of County Supervisors plans to take up a rezoning request that would make several major changes to the project.

The site’s developer, Irvine, Calif.-based SunCal, is looking to put its imprint on plans originally approved more than a decade ago under a different owner. County officials say developers will need to address concerns about whether a proposed new intersection near the town of Dumfries will function as promised.

The heart of the revised project supervisors will consider is still the same as those contemplated in past years. About 3,800 homes are planned, along with 3.7 million square feet of commercial space in a sprawling area on Route 1 between Dale City and Dumfries. The site backs up to the Potomac River, and officials hope that the huge development will reinvigorate the Route One corridor and open up significant waterfront development.

A new Jack Nicklaus-branded golf course and a Virginia Railway Express station are also being planned, and developers hope to lure the re-located FBI headquarters to the site.

SunCal’s new plans have the federal government’s wishes in mind. They have placed the future VRE station at the heart of the development’s “town center,” as well as expanded the center’s employment and retail space, prompting the need to seek a rezoning approval from the county. The new plan also adds open space and playing fields.

The county Planning Commission, an advisory board, has recommended that supervisors vote for the changes. Commissioner Ronald K. Burgess (Brentsville) said recently that many of the changes to the development are “housekeeping” -- assuring that legal documents are up to date, for example.

He said the new proposal is an improvement. There is now more open space and amenities, he said.

County officials and some residents’ primary concern is over a planned “quadrant” intersection -- where traffic does not make left turns at a light, but rather enters a separate lane -- at Route 1 and Route 234. The already-crowded intersection would be significantly affected when the development is finished, officials say.

The project sits near the town of Dumfries, population 5,000, and the intersection includes some town land. Mayor Gerald Foreman said at the Planning Commission hearing that the town deserves to have more input into the project. Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan (R-Potomac) said Friday that county officials continued to meet with town officials to ensure concerns are dealt with.

“We need to work together on this intersection,” Foreman told commissioners.

David Soyka, a spokesman for SunCal, has said that developers have proposed a good solution to mitigate increased traffic at the intersection. But he said that he hopes that a good portion of those who live in Potomac Shores use the VRE station. “We agree that the car isn’t the answer,” he said.

Caddigan, who represents the area, had voted against the project when it came up in 2001. She said Friday that developers have improved the original proposal, including adding office space closer to the water and a five-star hotel.

The intersection remains an issue, she said, although she believes that the developer’s solution is a good one.

“It’s a headache for the town, for the county and the traffic is unbelievable,” she said of the intersection. “They’re trying to do something that would move traffic better and safer.”

Caddigan said she was pleased developers were seeking to alleviate residents’ concerns, big and small. One nearby landowner thought that planned houses were too close to her property, so developers moved the houses back, Caddigan said.

“They want to be community friendly,” she said. “They have worked with [residents.]”

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