Potomac Shores promises to be an upscale new housing development and retail center, a gleaming example of redevelopment and reinvigoration in Prince William County’s eastern end.
As brochures begin to roll off presses and developers look at the branding of what they hope will be Prince William’s premiere development, Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan said she had an idea. Why not make the address Potomac, Va.?
“ I talked with [Potomac Shore developers] about marketing the peninsula,” Caddigan said of the name change. “They love the idea.”
Clearly, the name invokes the nearby river and tonier pockets of Maryland.
The river’s name used as harbinger of change has been pushed by Caddigan in the past. In 2011, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors approved new magisterial districts to go along with population shifts tracked by the Census. The board also changed the name of the Dumfries district, long represented by Caddigan, to Potomac, where the new development would be located.
The idea goes back to an Urban Land Institute study that recommended the change when it conducted a study on how to revitalize the run-down Route 1 corridor.
Now, Caddigan is looking for four Zip codes in the area to be renamed by the U.S. Postal Service as “Potomac.” The change is optional, Caddigan says, and residents could continue to use their current designation if they so choose.
First reported by PotomacLocal.com, the proposed change would mean that 22172 in Triangle, 22026 in Dumfries, 22025 in Montclair and 20112 in Ashland could use “Potomac, VA” in the last line of mail correspondence. The town of Dumfries would not be affected, she said.
Caddigan hopes to have the approval of the U.S. Postal Service in the next year or so. A formal petition to the Postal Service, which would need to sign off on the move, has not yet been submitted.
Congressional approval is not required, but Caddigan has enlisted the help of area Rep. Gerald Connolly (D).
While some residents said they just wondered “why?” at least one local official thinks Caddigan should stop trying to change names in what he sees as a continual re-branding effort.
Dumfries Mayor Gerald Foreman said that Caddigan had also suggested to him that the town change the name of the Williamstown area in Dumfries — an area he said is long associated with crime.
“I personally think that Maureen Caddigan likes to change names and start things new rather than take pride in our historic borders and our historic traditions,” Foreman said.
Others weren’t taking the effort so seriously but still had questions.
“This is the big issue of the day?” asked Tim Jack, a Montclair resident for the past 15 years. “We must have all of our other problems solved.”
“It was always this way,” said Jeff Milton, a Triangle-area resident. “Why would you change it?”
SunCal, which is developing Potomac Shores, is planning about 3,900 homes and 3.7 million square feet of commercial space on a sprawling 2,000 acres off Route 1 between Dale City and Dumfries . A new Jack Nicklaus-branded golf course and a Virginia Railway Express station are also being planned, and developers hope to lure the new FBI headquarters to the site.
Builders have broken ground and they hope to have the first units completed units this summer. The sprawling development could take 10 to 20 years to be completed, depending on the economy, said Eddie Byrne, SunCal vice president of project management.
Byrne said that one of the first things SunCal did when it bought the property was change the name of the project from Harbor Station. Potomac Shores places the new development in people’s minds and invokes water, a good thing in real estate, he said.
“It’s pretty clear in terms of where it is and how it relates to the river,” Byrne said of the name change for the area.
Caddigan emphasized the change is optional -- concerned residents can continue to use the same address line if they so choose and area signs for Montclair and Triangle would stay put.