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Spotsylvania supervisors approve rezoning to allow apartments at mall

Posted by Joe Bell on January 28, 2021
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Spotsylvania supervisors approve rezoning to allow apartments at mall

 

Apartments will be built on the site of the former Sears store at Spotsylvania Towne Centre.

 

The Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning for the Spotsylvania Towne Centre, paving the way for an apartment complex to be built on the site once occupied by Sears.

Towne Centre owner Anthony Cafaro said the mall must evolve to survive, and sees the addition of the apartment complex as a way to keep the mall viable.

“We don’t think the mall needs saving,” Cafaro told supervisors before the board voted 4–2 to approve the rezoning Tuesday night. “It needs to continue to evolve.”

He believes the apartments will provide an on-site customer base for the nearby retailers, and will draw in other businesses. Cafaro said the apartments will put the mall ahead of traditional retail centers by creating a new model with a “better shopping experience.”

Charlie Payne, a local attorney representing Cafaro and project developer Bonaventure Investments, said the mall has long been a key revenue source for the county and the rezoning is an attempt to keep it that way.

Payne asked the county to change 4.82 acres from commercial to mixed-use zoning, allowing the construction of two four-story apartment buildings. The project could include up to 271 apartments and a “commercial suite” of 500 square feet on the old Sears footprint and its adjacent parking lot.

The monthly rent for the apartments is expected to range from $1,300 for a one-bedroom apartment to $2,000 for three bedrooms. Most of the apartments would have one or two bedrooms.

The proposal includes 352 parking spaces, pedestrian crosswalks, sidewalks and a pool.

During the public hearing, four people sent in comments and three people spoke in person. All but one of the commenters live near the mall and raised concerns about traffic and the apartments becoming low-rent housing.

Spotsylvania resident Al King told the board the apartment project is “a fantastic economic proposal,” but warned the supervisors they may see more “bite-sized requests” for apartments on the mall property.

Supervisor Barry Jett also raised a concern about more residential rezoning requests from the mall owners. He criticized the traffic study, conducted by the applicants, that found the apartments would create less traffic than a retail store the size of the old Sears.

Jett and several speakers said the study was flawed and didn’t present a realistic view of the traffic impacts by the apartments. Payne said the study followed the standard model.

Payne said the apartments should draw younger people and empty nesters, creating a customer base on site.

“We have more to lose than just about anyone,” Cafaro said. “We’re putting our money where our mouth is.”

In December, he told the Planning Commission that plans could include a “high-end grocery” chain, such as Trader Joe’s, and new restaurants.

Supervisor Gary Skinner said Cafaro has been a “good partner” with the county and he believes the plan will help the mall.

Supervisor David Ross said he isn’t a fan of apartments and that some county developments with apartments are disappointing. But he added that Cafaro owns the property and should be trusted to do know what is best.

Ross, Skinner, Kevin Marshall and Deborah Frazier voted in favor the rezoning. Jett and Chris Yakabouski voted against the measure.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

sshenk@freelancestar.com

 

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