Twenty years after he first eyed Central Springfield for his dream banquet hall business, Keith Clark returned with a sledgehammer to christen the second facility in his successful Waterford chain.
Along with investors, local business leaders, Supervisor Dana Kauffman (D-Lee), and members of his management team, Clark took part in a "wall-pounding" inside the building that will become Waterford at Springfield, on Wednesday, July 27. It was the ceremonial first step in transforming the former Toys R Us building at the intersection of Franconia Road and Commerce Street on the east side of I-95. For the past few years, the building has served as a mattress superstore, and Waterford will lease it from the current owners, while transforming it into one of the largest banquet halls in the state of Virginia.
"It’s been a heck of a long time, and there is a history to it. To be honest, it’s kind of emotional for me," said Clark. "It comes full circle with this, because I wanted to do it a block away from here."
During the ceremony, Clark told the story of how he approached then-Lee District Supervisor Joe Alexander in the mid-1980s with his plan to build the banquet hall in Springfield. Alexander balked at the idea, and sent his chief of staff, Kauffman, to tell Clark no-go. Clark sat on the idea for over 10 years, but built Waterford at Fair Oaks across the street from the Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax in 2000. It became a huge cash cow, holding the most wedding receptions of any full-service facility in Virginia in its first year, at 159.
The Springfield facility will be 41,000 square feet, with four ballrooms, which can be opened up into one giant ballroom, with a capacity for 1,200 people. Clark said high schools like Robert E. Lee in Springfield have expressed interest in having their proms at Waterford. The company is aiming for a March or April 2006 opening.
"Here, we feel it’s going to be bigger and better in a lot of ways," said Clark.