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The Williamsburg Outlet Mall is in the early stages of planning Lightfoot Marketplace, a shopping area with a grocery store, drugstore, and other retail shops and restaurants.
The James City County Development Review Committee met Wednesday and heard a presentation on the preliminary plans from Guernsey Tingle Architects President Tom Tingle and Kaufman and Canoles attorney Paul Gerhardt. The presentation was to solicit comment from the committee, not to receive approval or denial.
Gerhardt began introducing the new plan, saying the outlet mall is a lost concept.
“We’re looking for a good reuse to it other than putting it back into some retail service in its existing format. It’s just not real suitable,” Gerhardt said.
A residential use was explored, Gerhardt explained, but the owner decided to stick with the county’s special use permit process, which would be required to execute the plan, rather than rezoning the property to allow a residential component.
The existing outlet mall sits in the middle of a piece of property mainly covered by impervious surface, or pavement, that doesn’t allow for drainage through the surface. The planned development would tear down the existing building and construct five new buildings around the perimeter of the property, allowing parking in the middle, Tingle explained. That would allow people to see buildings rather than pavement from the roads surrounding the property.
The plan would reduce the impervious surface by 20 percent, Tingle said, by incorporating landscaping and a stormwater retention pond.
The existing outlet mall is about 230,000 square feet; the planned shopping development includes about 120,000 square feet. The area would utilize existing road entrances but a traffic study will be completed to determine what the traffic increase to the area could be and if additional turn lanes would be needed.
Bonstra Haresign Architects is working on the design of the planned buildings. Tingle said the firm was chosen because it has a commitment to sustainable design and has relationships with specialty retailers that would be desirable in this area. He said the purpose of constructing the new retail space is not to cannibalize existing stores in the area but to draw in new ones.
“It is a work in progress, but we think a work in progress that is a pretty nice contrast to some of the work that’s out there now,” Tingle said.
The committee members were interested in seeing sustainable design, possibly a Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design certification for the building. The proposed buildings’ street appeal was also an area the members wanted to see focused on; because the proposed buildings back up to the street rather than face it, they want to ensure passersby have a nice view.
Tingle and Gerhardt said the plan for seeking county approval is to submit a plan to go before the Planning Commission at its September meeting. Applying for a special use permit is a required part of the project; that process could go before the Development Review Committee again and would go before the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors for a public hearing.