Copy of Page 3 Innovation Park Aerial.JPG

Aerial photo taken in May shows the location of the proposed University Village development adjacent to George Mason University's Prince William campus.

Local planners support an expansive development that could bring nearly 3,000 housing units and more than 2 million square feet of commercial space to Prince William County Parkway near Manassas.

During its meeting Wednesday, the Prince William Planning Commission recommended approval of proposals by Castle Rock Partners LLC and Stanley Martin Homes LLC for properties covering roughly 150 acres next to the George Mason University Science and Technology Campus.

Castle Rock wants to rezone 23.74 acres at the intersection of University Parkway and Prince William Parkway, or Va. 234, from planned business district to planned mixed-use district. The company has agreed to buy the property from the county for $4.86 million.

The developer has proposed an $849 million mixed-use complex called University Village with 1,480 student-housing units, 150 multifamily units and more than 1.6 million square feet of nonresidential space, including a hotel and conference center, retail areas and office space. 

Stanley Martin Homes has two requests on adjoining land northwest toward Wellington Road for Innovation Town Center. The company wants to rezone 107.4 acres from agricultural and planned business district to mixed-use district for Innovation Town Center. It is also requesting a special-use permit on 25.1 acres for a town center and residential units.

The company is planning to construct up to 1,396 housing units and more than 778,000 square feet of nonresidential uses. Stanley Martin is under contract to purchase the property, contingent on county approval, from Prince William County, MJV Associates LLC and PWC - Parcel A LLC.

The projects tie into the county’s 1,700-acre small-area plan for Innovation Park. Officials want the area to become a pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use town center with student housing and office space, as well as a shuttle to and from the Broad Run Virginia Railway Express station.

The plan also proposes a pedestrian bridge crossing Prince William Parkway on University Boulevard and an elementary school in the town center.

“The hope is this supports what we want to happen - having a very vital commercial and retail area there,” said Brentsville Commissioner Patti McKay.

The commission voted unanimously to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve Castle Rock’s project and 6-1 on the Stanley Martin proposal.

Gainesville Commissioner Richard Berry cast the lone dissenting vote after unsuccessfully trying to require the developer to build commercial space quicker than planned. Coles Commissioner Joseph Fontanella Jr. was absent.

The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the projects at its Sept. 21 meeting.

University Village

Commissioners’ main concerns with Castle Rock’s proposal have been around parking and ensuring the housing would be for students to eliminate any impact on the school division. 

On Wednesday, the company said it would conduct parking studies after each building is occupied. If the studies show inadequate parking, more will be added with subsequent construction.

On guaranteeing student housing, Tim Kissler, principal for Castle Rock, has said the company will pay the school division $10,300 per student generated in public schools by the development. 

The company will evaluate how many students it produces as each building is constructed. The buildings will be reevaluated twice at five-year intervals and the payment would be given for each confirmed student.

County staff estimate the final product will generate $8.9 million annually in real estate tax revenue, although Kissler estimated it would produce $13.36 million.

“I’m very excited about this project,” McKay said. “I think the developer has shown a serious commitment to the town center concept.”

Under the sale agreement, the county will reimburse Innovation Development LLC its purchase price as related infrastructure is constructed with the development. The infrastructure would come from entrances off Prince William Parkway and University Boulevard.

If the rezoning isn’t approved by Oct. 31, Castle Rock can pull out of the purchase.

Innovation Town Center

Stanley Martin is planning a mix of townhomes, stacked townhomes and multifamily units across several buildings. The proposal includes two playgrounds, a future park, clubhouse and swimming pool.   

The company has agreed to fund improvements along Prince William Parkway and Wellington and Bethlehem roads, including a traffic signal at the property. 

Berry said “there are elements I like about this plan,” but felt it could be improved. He was concerned that the commercial portion would be too far from the residential area and would duplicate what is provided with Castle Rock’s project.

“This is going to end up being a car-centric development with a town center at the end of it,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the best plan we could have.”

At-Large Commissioner Don Taylor was confident in the work Stanley Martin has done with county staff.

“I think the vetting of this has been second to none,” he said. “I feel this has been thoroughly vetted. It’s ready for prime time.”

Nolan Stout covers Prince William County. Reach him at nstout@insidenova.com or @TheNolanStout on Facebook and Twitter.

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