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Residents Speak Out on Proposed Downtown Development

Manassas Park City Council will continue its discussion about the proposed Park Place at The Station, a multiphase residential/commercial development near the Manassas Park VRE station.

This month, several Manassas Park residents have expressed reservations and concerns about a proposed mixed-use development along Manassas Drive across from .

On Tuesday, Manassas Park City Council is set to discuss height waivers, the vacation of right-of-way and the rezoning of the land along Manassas Drive where the project, dubbed , is slated to be built.

The combination residental/commerical development would have 20,000 square feet of retail for 10 to 12 stores and 304 apartments. Phase I of the project will be built on 14 acres. The entire development, including both phases, will be built on a total of 20 acres of land, according to city data.

The first phase would be built along Manassas Drive and Railroad Drive near the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) commuter station in Manassas Park.

Against the Development 

Within the last few weeks, several residents have appeared before city council and its advisory body, the planning commission, to air their concerns about the project.

17 council meeting, several residents spoke out against the rezoning of the land from B-2 business district to the Planned Used Development (PUD) district requested by the owners of the proposed development, Digital Park LLC.

“I don’t think it’ll be a good idea,” Manassas Park resident Marisha Patterson said. “My concerns are the traffic. I am a VRE rider … I walk to the VRE and I drive to the VRE.”

As a new resident of Manassas Park who is originally from the “country,” Patterson said she finds the idea of 304 apartments in that small space unsettling.

"I just hope that you guys don’t do it,” she said to the council.

Yolanda King, a resident of Manassas Park Station, told the council that she thinks the project would turn out nice, but the city doesn't need any more residential development.

King also spoke out against the rezoning for the project at the July 9 planning commission meeting and told that body more businesses are needed in Manassas Park.

Manassas Park resident Martha Collier also addressed and told them she isn’t in favor of Park Place at The Station being built.

“I’m totally, totally, totally, against this change, we do not need more rooftops,” Collier said. More businesses are needed, she said.

“Park Center sat empty for five years. There’s been nothing there, we were promised things to keep us here in town, but we drive out of town to do things.  For these reasons I would ask the planning commission to not change the zoning,” Collier said.

Another resident Heather Gustin, is also against the project. Expressing her viewpoints in person to the planning commission and in an email to the governing body which was read aloud by Councilman Suhas Naddoni on July 17, Gustin said the should first be given the opportunity to fill the empty retail spaces.

“I feel like if we keep taking all our business land and turning it into residential that’s going to impact us down the road,” she told the planning commission.

Resident told the planning commission she had some concerns about the residential aspect of the project being gated.

“The proposal to build a gated apartment complex in such a prime location appears to counter the vision for city center,” Rishell said. “The city center vision described in the land use chapter (of the Manassas Park comprehensive plan) should be a quote ‘vibrant hub’ and also should be quote, ‘highly accessible.’

The vision of accessibly and interaction among residents and visitors appears to not be completely compatible with a proposed gated community of any type in this commercial locations.”

Developers said it will take some 3,000 additional "rooftops" or homes to bring businesses to Manassas Park, but Rishell said the 304 appartments proposed at Park Place aren't enough to count toward that needed 3,000.

Additionally, 44 percent of the completed project is slated to be commercial, but 44 percent isn’t enough to increase the commercial tax base which is currently at 28 percent, Rishell said. More businesses are needed to increase the commercial tax base to a level that is helpful, she added.

City leaders and residents have long said that the city’s tax base relies heavily on residential and that the city needs to more businesses to take the tax burden off the residents.

For the Development 

If built, the project will not be called Park Place at The Station, but that is the name of the project for now, Manassas Park Planning and Zoning Director Vanessa Watson said during the July 24 city council meeting.

The developers haven’t publicly said what the final name for the development would be. The final name won’t contain the words, “park,” “place” or “station,” she added.

At the meeting, owner Mike Larkin said he’s fully behind the proposed project.

It’s good for jobs and businesses and it’s what the economy needs, Larkin told city council.

Bill Wren, the former Manassas Park mayor, spoke highly of Larry Doll, one of the owners of the project.

Manassas Park resident Mark Scheufler said he is in favor of more residential property in the city, but doesn’t want it to be gated.

He walks to the VRE and is annoyed by the fact he has to walk around Haverhill, a community of gated apartments between Railroad Drive and Digital Drive.

Scheufler told city council he would like to see more green space instead of a club house or a pool. He would also like a Trader Joe's or other grocery store included in the project, he added.

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Dean Sprague July 31, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Haven't we learned from our mistakes? Get the City-Center working from a retail standpoint before we go hog wild on another development. I think Manassas Park is a great place to live but we have to attract business here. The status quo is obviously not working... I believe Digital Park needs to be CAREFULLY and THOUGHTFULLY planned with additional resident/commercial involvement.
Jamie M. Rogers July 31, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Great points Dean! thanks for commenting!
Jason August 01, 2012 at 05:15 PM
How did the Washington Post report this story before the local reporters at Manassas Park Patch and News and Messenger? http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/manassas-park-inks-tentative-deal-with-firm-to-develop-new-downtown-office-building/2012/08/01/gJQAn7hSPX_story.html

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