Pr. William supervisors give unanimous approval to Potomac Shores

July 18, 2013

Potomac Shores, one of the largest proposed developments in Northern Virginia, received unanimous approval Tuesday from the Prince William Board of County Supervisors.

While many large-scale developments often receive a great deal of critique from neighbors worried about the impact to their quality of life, the around-a-dozen residents who showed up Tuesday had high praise for the project.

The rezoning approval means a green light for developers, who say they are moving quickly on key aspects of the sprawling, 1,920-acre project. Plans include about 3,800 homes 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 planned. Developers hope to lure a re-located FBI headquarters to the site.

California-based SunCal’s new plans have the federal government’s wishes in mind.

The plan approved Tuesday moves the future VRE station to the heart of the development’s “town center,” and expands the center’s employment and retail space.The new plan also added open space and playing fields. At the request of the school system, one elementary school site was substituted for a larger middle school site.

Hilda Barg, a former area supervisor, praised Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan (R-Potomac) for dealing with concerns big and small. “I think that’s why you don’t see citizens here opposing,” she said. “It’s because you had an open door policy.”

Doug Thornton, vice president of the Southbridge Homeowners Association, said the around 1,500 homeowners in the community adjacent to Potomac Shores are eager to see the development happen.

“They want to use the VRE station, the trails…the things they were promised when they moved to the community,” Thornton said. The plan sputtered under various owners as the downturn in the housing market stalled progress.

A main point of contention was a proposed “quadrant” intersection — where traffic does not make a left turns at the light, but rather enters a separate lane — at already-congested Route One and Route 234. Officials said that despite concerns, traffic models show that it will be effective.

Developers have also said that they hope that future residents opt for the VRE station instead of their car. Just in case, developers included an additional $250,000 to handle design issues if a need arises when the intersection is built, Caddigan said. “I think this gives the county additional flexibility,” she said.

Caddigan noted that she did not vote for Potomac Shores in 2001. She said she has been impressed with SunCal and praised them for working with her and residents, and said she was happy to vote for it this time around.

“It’s going to do so much for the eastern end of the county,” she said.

The development is expected to take 20 or 30 years to complete, depending on market conditions, developers have said. In a news release, SunCal spokesman David Soyka said the $2 billion development “will be a major job creator and have an enormous economic impact on the region.”

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