Sunday, April 14, 2024

Williamsburg Shopping Center Sold at Foreclosure Auction

City of Williamsburg logoThe Williamsburg Shopping Center located at Monticello Avenue and Richmond Road passed to new ownership in a multi-million dollar sale Tuesday.

CGCMT 2004-C Williamsburg Shopping Center LLC, the lender for the shopping center’s previous owner, acquired the property for $14,111,300 at an auction held at the Williamsburg-James City County Courthouse.

The auction was brought about by the default of the shopping center’s previous owners, Williamsburg Improvements LLC, on a $22 million debt.

Two groups bid on the property during the auction: the lender, and 1425 Richmond Road LLC, represented by local developer Robert J. Singley. Singley’s group bid $8,180,008 for the property.

The sale includes the shopping center — which leases to Food Lion, Marshall’s and Sal’s by Victor — the vacant bank building at 171 Monticello Ave., and the Langley Federal Credit Union at 1222 Richmond Road, city officials confirmed Tuesday.

The area along Monticello Avenue has been a target of redevelopment by City of Williamsburg for several years. The Williamsburg City Council approved a plan to rezone the shopping center from general commercial to urban commercial at its work session June 13, 2013. City Planning Director Reed Nester said the move would make the rezoned area suitable for mixed-use and high-density development.

“There’s a lot of things on the table [for that shopping center],” City Councilman Scott Foster said. “Because of its location on two major corridors — Monticello and Richmond Road — it’s really as important a property in the city as any. We’re very interested in whatever happens there.”

City Manager Jack Tuttle discussed the possibility of widening Monticello Avenue within the city limits, from Richmond Road to Treyburn Drive, at a council retreat Jan. 11. Doing so would assume the demolition of parts of the shopping center, along with parts of the Monticello Shopping Center, the former site of the now-shuttered Big Lots — an action that cannot be taken without the cooperation of the new owners.

“Traffic, road and highway infrastructure, and rezoning are our best tools to control what happens,” Foster said. “If we can get the traffic counts up on Monticello from Richmond Road, that will go a long way.”

Economic Development Director Michele Mixner DeWitt agreed the city had both an interest and a role to play in any future redevelopment of the Monticello corridor, including through infrastructure and zoning. While the city does not own the property, DeWitt said increased residential development at the site could be beneficial for the city.

“For a city to be vibrant, you need people there 24 hours a day,” DeWitt said. “Our population increases by 50 percent during the day because of employees but then they all leave and go home.”

The city will have to be strategic about placement for residential development, as Williamsburg is short on commercial space, and should work to keep successful tenants in their locations, DeWitt said.

“We need to protect our commercial space. We need to make sure it is available for commercial use and this is 19 acres for commercial use,” she said.

John H.C. Barron, an attorney with Duane Morris LLP who represented the lender at the auction, said it would likely try to resell the property at a fair market price in the next few months. The property’s most recent assessed value was $13,093,000.

Nicole Trifone contributed reporting for this story.

Correction This story has been updated to correct which buildings were included in the sale: the Williamsburg Shopping Center at 1234 Richmond Road, the vacant bank building at 171 Monticello Ave., and the Langley Federal Credit Union at 1222 Richmond Road. Incorrect information was provided.

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