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City Council Rejects Proposed Downtown Development

Governing body turns down $4.56 million upfront payment.

In a heated meeting where, at moments, council members came close to yelling at each other, the Manassas Park City Council on Tuesday narrowly rejected a proposed multiphase residential-commercial development  and a one-time $4.56 million payment that would have helped the city balance its books.

On a 4-3 vote, the council turned down the development, , that would have had 40,000 square feet of retail for 10 to 12 stores and 304 apartments.

The project would have had a 20-acre footprint and the first phase would have been built along Manassas Drive and Railroad Drive near the VRE commuter station. The owners of the proposed development, Digital Park LLC, were present for the vote but did not address the council.

“By voting no, what you are doing is denying us an opportunity for development in the city,” said an impassioned Mayor Frank Jones, who supported the project along with Councilmen Keith Miller and William Treuting. in the past to attract successful development.

“You are denying us the opportunity to reduce our tax rate and a chance to get our ” Jones said.

The block that voted down the project was just as adamant.

“Let’s not get scared here,” Councilman Suhas Naddoni said.

We have an approved multi-year budget, to keep the city in the black, he added.

Joining Naddoni in opposition were Vice Mayor Bryan Polk and Councilmen and

In a last-minute deal revealed at the meeting on Tuesday, the developers, Digital Park LLC, said they would pay the city a $4.56 million proffer once they closed on the project, probably in March. Previously they had agreed to pay the money in stages as the project was constructed. A proffer is a normal monetary arrangement between developers and government bodies meant to offset the cost of an increase in services a project would generate.

Naddoni said he questioned the wisdom of the project, which would produce increased traffic on Manassas Drive and put more pressure on Manassas Park schools, which are at or near capacity.

“It is already a tough drive to get here and this will make traffic worse,” Naddoni said. “We come here to Manassas Park because of what it is, a small town. If we approve this, we will kill what we have here.”

In voting down the project, Leeper and Banks cited opposition from Manassas Park residents who expressed reservations and concerns about the proposed mixed-use development.

“Really it’s a relationship issue,” Banks said. “It’s the relationship that we have with our residents and they clearly don’t want this project.”

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BloomsCrossingMom August 02, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Because if I wanted my kids in county schools, I would have moved to the county. I like Manassas Park schools, thank you very much!
BloomsCrossingMom August 02, 2012 at 07:20 PM
I wasn't sure how I felt about the new development, but I am pretty upset that, given my water bill, the city council walked away from this deal.
PARKrLongTime August 02, 2012 at 09:22 PM
I may be mistaken but wouldnt 304 apts bring approx. $2.5M in water & sewer fees in addition to the $4.5 M?? If that's true, they actually walked away from $7M!!
Vasquez2 August 03, 2012 at 02:32 AM
Right on, Mom! Whether we have 100 residents, or 100,000, the city pays a percentage of the UOSA facility water treatment plant (bare with me, i just re-read the report for my own reference) based on the amount of water we send there. UOSA costs are divided among 4 member jurisdictions as follows: FFX Co (51%), PWC (29%) Manassas (15%) MP (5%) - I referenced the UOSA website for these numbers. As these other localities grow/develop, their usage increases and UOSA has to forecast projections for FUTURE expanse and get that done long before it's needed. This costs money, BIG money (when you're talking about $50m expansion projects, for example). So, the key word here is GROWTH. Expanse = Expense...for ALL UOSA members including us. 5% of a 50m UOSA project /4900 residents= more than you want to pay but it's reality! Look, I like "small town feel" too but it carries a high price when you want all the amenities of a big city (only 30 min outside the beltway) and you don't have the population to pay for it or the growth to support it! Read the report! This is where we would've been anyway (just more slowly over 13+ years). The debt service jumps up a million+ in 2016 and STAYS there! It aint coming back down! In fact, it goes up $100,000 or so, every year. I haven't even addressed the purchase of water or the loss problem (also counted/paid for as UOSA capacity..) Get it?? This is simple math folks. Call those guys back and tell em we've changed our minds before they leave town!
Isaac Cohen August 03, 2012 at 12:59 PM
The fact is there wasn’t near enough commercial development in that proposal. From what I’ve heard there wasn’t any commercial going to be built and there was no guarantee it ever would. I’m so tired of the city jumping like a puppy dog after a bone every time someone waves dollars in the air. Please think of what’s best for the city in the future, not the big “now” There’s a couple guys on council that pushed the city to spend money like a kid at the mall with their parents credit card. And now that the bill is coming due they want to sell the family car to pay for it. Same principle. Geez!!!

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