Lansdowne Town Center Moves Along

Lansdowne Town Center Moves Along

Developer agrees to reduce the number of residential units by nearly 50 percent.

After months of negotiation, the Lansdowne Village Greens town center project is finally ready for prime time.

On Jan. 24, supervisors on the Transportation/Land Use committee voted unanimously to forward the Lansdowne Village Greens application to the full board with a recommendation of approval. It was a long way from just a couple of weeks ago, when more than 150 residents turned out at a town hall meeting to both applaud and decry the proposition.

ORIGINALLY, OWNER Lansdowne Town Center LLC requested 971 residential units to go with a mixed-use office and retail town center. The latter is badly needed in Lansdowne, where residents have no convenient shopping opportunities. The former set off a firestorm among residents, who felt duped by developer Leonard "Hobie" Mitchel, saying at a September public hearing that they'd bought houses not knowing another 971 units were on the way.

With the help of Supervisor Lori Waters (R-Broad Run), also a Lansdowne resident, a compromise has been met. Instead of nearly a thousand new homes, the new proposal includes just 500, plus up to 49 affordable dwelling units.

Waters drove a hard bargain even during the final negotiations at the Jan. 24 meeting, taking exception to the size of the revised plan's tree save area — despite the fact that Mitchel had already agreed to expand the town green area as well.

"If this is the only site where you're preserving trees, it needs to be larger," she said.

Mitchel acquiesced and agreed to expand the area.

Supervisor Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge) still wondered why the proposal even included residential units at all.

"For a really true town center, to make it a viable place, you really have to mix the two together," Mitchel responded.

Lansdowne Village Greens would be the first planned development in Loudoun County to have live-work spaces — three-story buildings with retail on the first floor and residential above. With buildings set close to the street, the project will recall downtown Leesburg more than most modern town centers.

ANOTHER CONCERN RAISED by residents was the pressure on Selden's Landing Elementary School brought by new population. Sam Adamo, the county director of planning and legislative services, estimated that the new population would bring 89 new elementary students. Mitchel disputed that this would occur.

There is "a delta difference" between the number of students Lansdowne should add by the numbers and the actual amount, Mitchel said.

Despite this, Mitchel has agreed to spend up to a $1 million adding four new classrooms onto Selden's Landing.

Per Waters' request, Mitchel has also agreed to the following:

* Move new multi-family units proposed for the corner of Belmont Ridge Road and Riverside Parkway to a more central location.

* Require new office buildings to be four, not one or two, stories.

* Relocate the storm water management pond to preserve trees, replace the trees in the old pond site.

* Not permit a bowling alley in the development.

* Not permit deliveries between 1-5 p.m. to any convenience stores.