Sunday, December 3, 2023

Colonial Williamsburg again withdraws application for Goodwin Square permits, funding

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)

For a second time in the last year, Colonial Williamsburg has again withdrawn its application for the controversial Goodwin Square project.

Since its first proposal last fall, Goodwin Square has garnered both support and opposition from local residents and business owners. Some said the project would hurt business, while others said it would improve visitation to the area.

Now, Colonial Williamsburg says the departure of its CEO Mitchell Reiss and the transition to new leadership this month calls for full withdrawal of the application for the project, which would remove 40 of 48 parking spaces from the P3 lot.

The city announced the change Thursday in a news release, just hours ahead of the monthly City Council meeting where elected leaders would vote to approve, deny or delay the application.

The news release included a copy of an Oct. 9 letter to City Manager Andrew Trivette and Director of Planning and Codes Compliance Carolyn Murphy. It was written by Jeff Duncan, vice president of real estate for Colonial Williamsburg, and requested applications for two special use permits relating to Goodwin Square be withdrawn.

It also requested an application for grant funding — which would give $400,000 annually for five years toward the project — under the Tourism Development Fund grant be withdrawn as well.

“As you are aware, Colonial Williamsburg is now in a period during which we are transitioning to a new CEO,” Duncan wrote. “Consequently, we have decided to delay moving forward with the Goodwin Square project during this pending transition in leadership. The future of the project will be determined at a later date.”

The foundation publicly announced Reiss’s departure in June, less than two weeks before Colonial Williamsburg began publicly pursuing both approval of Goodwin Square and the grant funding from the Tourism Development Fund.

“This project generated lots of conversation with valid positions shared on all sides,” Trivette said in a prepared statement. “Through the collaborative efforts of many, our community has grown stronger. Partnerships were forged and genuine effort made to establish a plan that satisfied much of the concern. I am proud of that outcome and thankful for the leadership of the Council and the Foundation who were willing to work for compromise.”

Sarah Fearing
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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