Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Colonial Williamsburg asks City Council to delay vote on Goodwin Square items. Here’s why

Artist's rendering from 2018 of what the P3 lot in Merchants Square after it is transformed into a pedestrian marketplace. (WYDaily/ Courtesy Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)
Artist’s rendering from 2018 of what the P3 lot in Merchants Square after it is transformed into a pedestrian marketplace. (WYDaily/ Courtesy Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)

Colonial Williamsburg has asked Williamsburg City Council to delay a decision on its Goodwin Square project, a proposed pedestrian plaza and green space that would remove 40 parking spaces from the P3 parking lot.

City staff are recommending City Council delay — or table — their consideration while Colonial Williamsburg does further review ahead of the project, the city announced Friday in a news release.

Colonial Williamsburg wants additional time to “complete a review of potential changes to downtown parking,” Colonial Williamsburg Vice President of Real Estate Jeff Duncan wrote in a Sept. 5. letter to City Manager Andrew Trivette.

The foundation defended the proposed project in its letter, saying the plaza would attract new local, regional and visiting guests to downtown Williamsburg.

But, Colonial Williamsburg believes parking is important, according to the letter. 

“We also believe access to adequate, well-maintained, and convenient parking is an important requirement for the downtown shopping and cultural experience for visitors to Merchants Square and other downtown establishments,” Duncan wrote.

A Colonial Williamsburg spokesman was not immediately available by phone Friday afternoon to give further detail about what a “review of potential changes to downtown parking” entails.

The foundation has requested two of three agenda items regarding Goodwin Square be tabled at City Council’s Sept. 12 meeting. City Council will make the decision whether or not to delay their vote on the items at the meeting.

If tabled, the two matters would be moved to City Council’s Oct. 10 meeting.

Those two items include:

  • A request to remove 40 parking spaces from the P3 parking lot.
  • A request for a special use permit to allow a private plaza to be built in the P3 lot.

The foundation has asked City Council to leave one Goodwin Square-related item on the agenda: a consideration for a text amendment to allow “private plazas” in the Downtown Business zoning district.

Colonial Williamsburg needs all three items approved for Goodwin Square to come to fruition.

RELATED STORY: Restrictions aim to preserve downtown parking, but CW could still remove spots in P3 — only with City Council’s blessing

On Aug. 23, the Tourism Development Grant Review Committee recommended Goodwin Square be funded using tourism tax dollars generated by Senate Bill 942.

The project would receive $2 million over a period of five years, starting with fiscal year 2020.

City Council still needs to approve the funding, which is expected this month.

Residents have spoken both in favor of and against Goodwin Square at multiple meetings in the past, including at the Tourism Development Grant Review Committee meeting Aug. 23. 

A major concern was parking — some residents and business owners worried removing the 40 parking spots from P3 would damage business and local visitation to the Historic Area.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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