Williamsburg Montessori School Looks to Expand to Richmond Road Location

WYDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

Williamsburg Montessori School hopes to open a consolidated campus at 800 Richmond Rd., the former location of Suter's Handcrafted Furniture. (Ian Brickey/WYDaily)
Williamsburg Montessori School hopes to open a consolidated campus at 800 Richmond Rd., the former location of Suter’s Handcrafted Furniture. (Ian Brickey/WYDaily)

A Williamsburg-area private school is eyeing a new location on Richmond Road near the College of William & Mary.

The Williamsburg Montessori School has filed a request for a special-use permit to use 800 Richmond Road as a new school building for the school’s fourth- through eighth-grade students.

The property is the former site of Suter’s Handcrafted Furniture, which WMS Head of School Sandy Andrews said closed “in the last few weeks.”

Calls to Suter’s Harrisonburg headquarters were not immediately returned.

Andrews said the school was currently in talks with the property owner, CANC LLC, for a three-year lease on the property. She said the lease would be contingent upon the approval of the permit.

WMS currently operates at three campuses: one on Longhill Road in James City County and two in the City of Williamsburg, on Scotland Street and Penniman Road.

If the request is approved, WMS would relocate its upper elementary and middle school programs, which currently operate at the Scotland Street and Penniman Road locations, to the new Richmond Road site.

Andrews said the school had looked into consolidating campuses for several years. She said combining all of the school’s programs in one campus had been included in WMS’s most recent 10-year plan.

The location is zoned LB-2, which is meant for use as a mixture of office, commercial and residential purposes. A special use permit would allow for other uses of the property not laid out in the zoning ordinance.

Andrews said the building would not require any alterations or construction for use as a school building, and WMS would be able to occupy the building in time for the first day of classes in September.

“It’s perfect as-is,” she said. “If we receive approval, we can get in there and move in furniture, supplies, everything we need to be ready by September 8.”

Andrews said 40 to 50 students would use the building on a daily basis for school activities.

Andrews also said the school had informed Williamsburg city staff the new location would use a staggered drop-off and release system to limit parking and traffic congestion around the site. She said about five cars would regularly park on the site.

Andrews said the area around the Richmond Road site was well-suited for a school given its proximity to Colonial Williamsburg, museums and William & Mary. She also said WMS would be a good addition for the downtown area.

“Our school could bring a lot of advantages to the Arts District, with students and parents coming into a retail-rich area,” Andrews said.

City staff will make a recommendation on the proposal prior to the Planning Commission’s June 17 meeting.

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the request June 17. The commission can then vote on whether to recommend the proposal to the Williamsburg City Council.

The City Council could address the request as early as its July meeting.

Williamsburg Montessori School was founded in 1982 and is affiliated with the American Montessori Society, which emphasizes self-reliance and self-motivation in childhood education.