Manassas sees little growth; increase in minorities

By Jennifer Buske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 9, 2011; 8:59 PM

The Hispanic population in Manassas more than doubled in the past decade while the city's growth was fairly stagnant, making non-Hispanic whites the minority for the first time in 20 years, according to data released by the Census Bureau last week.

The city's overall population grew less than 8 percent to almost 38,000 last year, according to the data. Almost 12,000 residents are Hispanic, up from 5,300 in 2000. The Asian population in the city went up 56 percent in the past decade, and the number of black residents increased 11 percent.

In contrast, the non-Hispanic white population dropped almost 23 percent.

"We used to be one of the fastest-growing communities in the commonwealth," Manassas Mayor Harry J. "Hal" Parrish II (R) said, noting he is also not surprised by the change in demographics as he has watched diversity grow at the schools. "We have more jobs here today than we have ever had, so that bedroom community perspective people had of Manassas is changing."

According to Manassas City school officials, 32.2 percent of enrolled students are classified as ESOL, English Speakers of Other Languages. About 28 percent of the population in Manassas is under the age of 18, according to the data. With growth leveling off, Manassas City school officials said they have not had to add a facility since the mid-2000s, when Mayfield Intermediate opened.

Like other Virginia cities, Parrish said, growth can be a challenge, because there is a limited amount of land - 10 square miles - to develop. City officials are starting to explore building up, not out. Parrish said he thinks the population will creep up in the coming years as several new developments are underway.

Parrish said he also thinks the jobs, the amenities and the family-friendly atmosphere will keep people coming to Manassas for years.

"Manassas [is] a great place to live, work, do business, raise a family and come for a visit - that's how I sign every e-mail I send," Parrish said.

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