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UPDATED: New Retail, Residential Development Proposed for Manassas Park

Park Place at The Station, a mixed-use property much like City Center, is slated for Manassas Park. The owner of the property said he is in talks with executives to bring the first pharmacy to the city as part of the project.

Editor's Note: This story was updated Tuesday evening.

A new upscale mixed-use development could be coming to Manassas Park once the City Council approves the project. 

The development, Park Place at The Station, is slated to have 20,000 square feet of retail for 10 to 12 stores and 304 apartments. The entire development is on 14 acres of land.

The first phase is slated for Manassas Drive and Railroad Avenue near the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) commuter station in Manassas Park.

The second phase will be on the now-vacant property across Manassas Drive at the intersection of Railroad Avenue.

Owned by are Digital Park, LLC, the project is slated to cost $55 million. The corporation is comprised of and . They will be in charged of the commerical aspect of the development. The broker for Digital Park, LLC is Crossroads Commercial of Manassas.

Oxford Properties is the proposed contract purchaser for the apartments of Park Place at The Station. The purchase is contingent on the Manassas Park Governing Body.

The owners of the project said they want to proceed as soon as the Manassas Park City Council approves the project and the necessary permits are in hand. As a “good faith effort,” the owners have agreed to put a $500,000 commercial deposit in escrow within two months of the closing of the residential parcel owner (Oxford.) If the first phase isn’t completed within 24 months of the deposit, then the city gets to keep that money.

Lawrence Doll, the owner of the actual land parcels and the co-owner of Digital Park, LLC, said the proposed development will generate some $1 million a year in real estate taxes for the city and a $1.2 mllion in water sewer tap fees. The city will also receive some $4.5 million in proffers and , he said.

Doll, who has owned land in Manassas Park since the 1980s, said he is serious negotiations with a pharmacy chain to have them build a store near phase two of Park Place. Doll declined to name the business, but his broker said the pharmacy won’t be built until Doll and his associates have permits in hand from the city to proceed with the project.

Some members of the Manassas Park Planning Commission aren’t completely sold on the idea of a proposed mixed-use development that is conceptually much like its neighbor City Center,

Commissioner and city councilman Bryan Polk expressed concern over if Park Place will ever become a reality in Manassas Park.

The area could be rezoned, as the owners requested, and then nothing ever be built, Polk said Monday.

Polk said he is sensitive to this in light of rezonings for projects in the city that were never built. 

Polk did not elaborate on what projects he was refering to.

“I can’t speak to those other areas where you might be sensitive, but given the time frame we’re on; our motivation is to do everything possible to effect this and start pushing shovels into the dirt and start writing checks to the city …” Bill Hall of Oxford Properties said to Polk. “We’re spending a lot of money as a sign of our commitment to do this project.”

The market will dictate when phase two of Park Place will happen, Hall said.

He senses the urgency, but he’s not seeing it immortalized in the proffer agreements, Polk said to Hall.

Polk specifically mentioned section 5.2 of the Park Place proffer agreement which states, in part, that the city will receive $500,000 if the commercial aspect isn’t development as agreed. The last section of 5.2 states the owner of Park Center’s residential parcel—Oxford Properties—will not be held responsible if the commercial space isn't completed.

“Boy does it not reinforce the commitment to the commercial structure; it does everything but reinforce the commitment to the commercial structure and that really concerns me,” Polk said. “Basically it [the proffer] says if the commercial building is not built, we’re still going to build the residential.”

Hall told the commission that each part of the project—the residential and the commercial—need to stand alone and apart from each other in light of the economy and the financial climate.

Polk told Hall that he found it, “disturbing” that he’d just described the project’s commercial to residential mix as one concept, but now he’s talking about how it’s two separate projects.

“They are two separate projects because we have two separate owners,” Hall said. “The are mutually beneficial to one another.”

Commissioner Ed Rishell, too, said he was concerned that the city could only end up with just residential instead of both.

That $500,000 in escrow that Digital Park may lose to the city may be looked at by it as “the cost of doing business,” Rishell said Monday.

The motion to recommend the rezoning of some 20 acres of land for Park Place from General Business District (B-2) to Planned United Development (PUD) failed during the planning commission’s meeting Monday night.

The motion failed because it lacked the majority vote. Commissioner John Evans, who is also the police chief, and Commissioner Julia Cline voted to recommend the rezoning, while Polk and Rishell voted against it. Commissioner Oscar Jamilla was absent Monday.

A second voting split resulted in the failure of the motion to recommend approval of the Park Place application for vacation of right-of-way. Cline and Evans voted in favor fo the right-of-way, while Rishell and Polk voted against it.

The motion to recommend approval of the Park Place height waiver application was approved unanimously.

The motion to forward the application to the Governing Body with the split decision was approved by a majority vote, with Cline, Evans and Rishell voting aye and Polk voting nay.     

Manassas Park City Council will consider the matter on July 17.

Heather Gustin July 11, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Hi Jamie, I attended this meeting and I also expressed my concerns over the project. I also spoke out against the 85 town houses that was re-zoned from commercial to PUD on the corner of Andrew and Manassas Drive in December. That project was presented and voted on at the same meeting. All the residents that spoke were against the project, it was pushed through. One of the first things that Preston Banks did when his term started in 2012 was to implement a policy that no project should be presented and voted on at the same meeting, thank you Mr. Banks. If we keep re-zoning the little commercial property we have, we'll have bigger problems coming our way. If this project goes through just imagine the impact on Manassas Drive and our precious schools. The board has recently created great incentives for businesses to come and stay in Manassas Park. They've also expedited the time frame to start a business, which is also attractive to new businesses. City Center is now under new management with Lane corporation. I feel we need these new changes a chance to see what they sow. As Bryan Polk said at the meeting, we're definetly getting the 304 apartments but there is no guarantee on the commercial side. Please if you also feel the same way about this re-zoning either attend the meeting next Tuesday or send an email, it will be read by the governing body. Once our commercial land is re-zoned it's GONE! Also Ed Rishell voted no for the project.
Isaac Cohen July 11, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Developers are always in "serious negotiations" with some store or other, but somehow it always falls through, and they never want to say who they talk to. This is a big bunch of hot air and itll fall through too. I hope council doesn't fall for it
Susan Lange July 11, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Say what!? More residential? Why isn't the vacanicies filled up in that new building on Manassas Dr the movers and doers in Manasas Park better put their thinking caps on, this smells!
Isaac Cohen July 11, 2012 at 01:11 PM
i bet for every one who shows up to talk against this residential, there is another hundred that dont want it but dont have time to talk up against it
Kris Day July 11, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Yikes! 304 apartments - we don't want this, do we?!
Jamie M. Rogers (Editor) July 11, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Hi Heather! Thanks for commenting! I was there Monday to hear your comments :) I plan to do another story just about what you guys said during the public hearing. I didn't want it to get lost in this story, which is already pretty long and detailed. Look for it on Patch soon.
katie s July 11, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Please folks, lets worry about getting the spaces filled in the buildings across from City Hall first before "jumping" onto another project.....jeezzzzzzzzz
Jeanette Rishell July 11, 2012 at 02:02 PM
I do not believe this is in the long term best interests of the City. We need business and the City’s Comprehensive Plan acknowledges that this area from Digital to Railroad should be promoted for “…development of commercial and/or office uses in these areas. This type of development is important to the city as a means of generating revenues needed to off-set residential property taxes.” Action Strategy 1.4. Additionally, even though there is some commercial projected for this development, they are NOT building those business structures right now; they are only building the residential and there are no assurances that the business development will occur. We could very well be looking at one another 10 years from now and wonder where the businesses are. Also, the amount of commercial they are proposing Is not sufficient to bring up the commercial tax base percentage to a level that would be helpful to the city.
Jamie M. Rogers (Editor) July 11, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Hey guys! Thanks for your great comments! I did want to share a little tidbit with you: the new owners of City Center a.k.a. Park Center have just recently hired a company to aggressively recruit businesses to fill its retail space. We'll see what happens. And Mr. Doll one of the owners of the proposed Park Place, said that we need more "rooftops" aka residents to draw in businesses to the the city. He said the new development would be extremely walkable and people riding the VRE would stop in and shop, too.
Jeanette Rishell July 11, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Thanks for posting the new information, Jamie, everyone hopes the new company will be successful recruiting businesses. I think there is also a concern with the number of rooftops. The estimate needed is 3,000 and the number that would come from this new residential is only 304.
Jamie M. Rogers (Editor) July 11, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Hey there Jeanette, That's right about the 3,000, but I guess the digital park gang feels as if they need to start some where. Mr. Doll said that study that gave 3,000 as the magic number didn't include land east of the railroad tracks (where Park Place would be) If it had, maybe they would have come up with a different number???? Not sure.
Bloomie July 11, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Glad to see everyone is starting to wisen up. Never believe a developer. If they are offering 500k, I'd counter with 2M and negotiate from there. I also wouldn't approve anything similar until the City Center is at least 85% occupied. Why won't the pharmacy locate in the City Center? Remember, Mr. Doll isn't generating any income from the land now, but he still has to pay taxes on the undeveloped land. I think he could sweeten the offer or come up with something better.
MPSince03 July 11, 2012 at 05:14 PM
I think this affirms you have my vote come November.
Wlcm2myWorld July 11, 2012 at 05:14 PM
I personally wouldnt use a pharmacy located in City Center...you can never find parking! I have friends that live in the apartments and usually have to park across the street and walk through the complex to visit them. Who wants to do that in inclement weather when there are other pharmacies within close proximity with drive up windows. I have lived in MP a long time and while I agree that it would be nice to have some smaller, convenient businesses in the city proper, I also would not want to see it turn into another Liberia Ave. And on the other hand, if everyone keeps opposing the building of more residential, how are we EVER going to get the number needed to entice the businesses to come in. Its a Catch-22!! I also know that the City Center apartments are filled and they have recently converted some of the retail space below and people are living in them. I think there is a better chance of filling apartments than it is some of the foreclosed houses sitting through out the park.
Kris Day July 11, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Single family homes in the Park are not languishing on the market. They are getting snatched up very quickly and sellers are getting 98 to 100 percent of their asking price. Apartments do not bring the kind of tax base nor typically the solid familial living dynamics that would be preferable for our town. I think we should be considering home ownership properties only, condos and townhomes included.
Jamie M. Rogers (Editor) July 11, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Hey, my dear Kris! Hope you are well and having all the pho your heart desires, I know I am! (lol inside joke) Not sure if I mentioned this already, but the developer decided on apartments as a pair to the retail because it is believed that renters have more discretionary spending. They aren't hung up saving money for their mortgages and property taxes, home insurance and so on. Hope that helps.
Kris Day July 11, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Jamie, always good to hear from you. Can one ever get enough pho!?! I am at Pho 24 once a week now, sometimes twice, hee hee. I see the point on discretionary spending. I just hope we are not running into another City Center debacle.
BloomsCrossingMom July 11, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Didn't Frank Barros say a year ago that he had been trying to get Rite Aid to come in up in Blooms and they wouldn't because of lack of traffic? Wasn't that right here on the Patch that I heard that?
Jamie M. Rogers (Editor) July 11, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Hey there BloomsCrossingMom, I believe Mr. Doll said that back in Dec. 2010 at the joint planning commission city council meeting about the 84 townhomes. He was talking about why he was building the townhomes (Glory Hill) at Andrew and Manassas Drive. He said that he came real close to landing a pharmacy, but they pulled out at the last minute. I don't recall him saying what pharmacy chain though. FYI, he told me Monday night that he'd sold the Glory Hill project to another guy who'd been experiencing some problems which is why it hasn't been built yet. Apparently those problems have been straighten out and now they are now moving forward. (Yet another story I'm working on.)
BloomsCrossingMom July 11, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Thanks. I kind of think of all those chains as the same thing, so maybe I got the one stuck in my head.
Johngotti July 12, 2012 at 05:37 AM
How about get rid of all the illegal immigrants and drug dealers on Manassas drive before anything else . Manassas park is looking like a section 8 housing

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