Blacksburg is one step closer to having a new mixed-use development on Main Street where the old middle school once sat.
Montgomery County finalized a deal with Midtown Development LLC to purchase the front 5.49 acres of the 19.5-acre parcel that has sat empty for the last several years.
“Selling the front parcel of the old Blacksburg Middle School means progress, both for the county and for the Town of Blacksburg,” said Chris Tuck, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, according to a county news release. “Now, the entire site can be developed and the money received from selling it can be directly allocated to capital projects for Montgomery County Public Schools.”
Supervisors approved an amendment to the sales agreement in October allowing Midtown Redevelopment to defer payment of the $2.5 million purchase price of the front parcel for up to one year while paying three percent interest to the County. The full $2.5 million is due by Dec. 7, 2018.
Midtown submitted plans to the town in October that call for a seven-parcel mixed-use development that includes a hotel and commercial space (restaurant, retail or office) for the front portion of the property facing Main Street, while the back portion of the property on Eheart and Clay Street calls for a new police station, parking garage, public park, community plaza and multifamily residences. In total, the value of the development is approximately $150 million.
The property would have to be rezoned from single-family homes to mixed use, a process that is still in its infancy. The developers said that they plan to donate the park, and public use plazas to the town.
Citizen response was mixed at a public meeting early in November. Some in attendance expressed their enthusiasm for the property while others had their concerns.
Chief among those were nearby residents worried that an already hectic traffic problem on Main Street (during the school year) would only be made worse by the proposed development. Others had issues that it would become another student housing complex, something Midtown has said is not the case, and would avoid by adding certain rules and regulations for potential tenants.
Town officials have said that they are intrigued by the proposed development, but that there are still details that need to be ironed out.
“As we’ve all learned, we can’t enter an agreement based on a pattern book or an attractive schematic,” Councilwoman and Mayor-elect Leslie Hager-Smith said. “The development agreement needs to spell out: town financial support for public spaces; transfer of public properties; restrictions on residential uses; construction of public improvement; and the quality of development/architecture.”
Town Manager Marc Verniel echoed Hager-Smith’s thoughts.
“This is definitely one of the best plans we have seen to this point,” he said. “Everything is still pretty conceptual to this point, though.”
Developer Jeanne Stosser (owner of Midtown Development LLC) has previously said that her group is excited to work with the town to create a product that is beneficial to everyone, especially the residents of Blacksburg.
In April of 2016, Fiddler’s Green L.L.C. (another of Stosser’s companies) entered into a sales agreement with Montgomery County to purchase the rear 14 acres of the former Blacksburg Middle School site for $1.75 million.
The next meeting on the proposed development is with the Planning Commission at 5 p.m. Dec. 19 at the Blacksburg Motor Company Building (400 S. Main St.).
The commission will review the request and the staff report. There will be an opportunity for the applicant to present the proposal. The public is welcome to attend; however, it is not a public hearing and there will not be an opportunity for public comment during the meeting.
The full application, meeting schedule and other documents may be found at www.blacksburg.gov/obms and the website will be updated as new meetings are scheduled or documents added.