Sunday, August 7, 2022

Colonial Williamsburg files plan for event venue near visitor center

The event venue will be on the property adjacent to a parking lot on Visitor Center Drive. (WYDaily/ Andrew Harris)
The event venue will be on the property adjacent to a parking lot on Visitor Center Drive. (WYDaily/ Andrew Harris)

Colonial Williamsburg is hoping to build a new outdoor event venue with room for 5,000 guests near its visitor center.

The City of Williamsburg’s Planning Commission will review an application from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation for “conceptual plans” for the venue at their Oct. 17 meeting, according to meeting documents.

The venue could be used for live events such as concerts, movie nights, lectures and festivals, said Jeff Duncan, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation vice president of real estate, in a letter to city staff filed with meeting documents.

“We have an expectation of crowd sizes ranging from several hundred to several thousand,” Duncan wrote.

If approved, the venue would be comprised of temporary installations which would be removed after each event. The size of the stage and tent would vary from event to event, but would be similar in style to those used for Summer Breeze Concert Series and Funhouse Fest.

The letter did not indicate whether Summer Breeze or Funhouse Fest could be moved from the Dewitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum lawn to the new venue.

“The request to the city reflects the need for Colonial Williamsburg to make the best use of foundation property, and to have flexibility for that purpose,” Duncan said in an email to WYDaily. “Our top priority is delivering on our core educational mission for our guests, followed by initiatives that support that mission. We are currently exploring appropriate uses for the site but specific plans are yet to be determined.”

At the venue, there would be grass seating for 5,000, portable restrooms, temporary food and beverage tents and possibly food trucks. No outside alcoholic drinks would be allowed, and alcoholic beverages purchased on site would be restricted to within the fenced area.

The application indicates guests could park on-site or across the street at the Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center. Guests parking at the visitor center would cross the pedestrian bridge to access the venue.

The planned venue will be across the street from the Visitor Center. Colonial Williamsburg said the venue will have ample parking, including the lot next to it and by the Visitor Center. (WYDaily/ Courtesy City of Williamsburg)
The planned venue will be across the street from the Visitor Center. Colonial Williamsburg said the venue will have ample parking, including the lot next to it and by the Visitor Center. (WYDaily/ Courtesy City of Williamsburg)

The application is two-fold and, if approved, would ultimately allow the foundation to create an outdoor event venue at Palace Farms across from the Visitor Center.

Colonial Williamsburg is asking for a change to the zoning ordinance to allow outdoor special events in the Museum Support District, where the site is located. Parcels inside the Museum Support District are intended to be used to support the operations of the Historic Area of Colonial Williamsburg, according to current city ordinance.

Events in the district would require a city-issued special use permit, so a secondary application from the foundation asked for a special use permit.

The application will be reviewed by the Planning Commission. The commission will then vote to recommend City Council either approve or deny the application. Council will then make the final decision on the application in a future meeting.

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