QUESTION:How can we stop the construction of another unneeded shopping center? I have lived in Williamsburg since 1975 and it saddens me to see how the town has changed. What’s even more saddening is how more and more establishments are closing their doors while new and bigger shopping centers are being built. Again…how can we stop the contruction of another shoppng center (where Fresh Market is talking about moving to)?
ANSWER: I appreciate your taking the time to contact me, and I also can appreciate the frustration you feel. I, too, care deeply about maintaining the character of the city. All of us on Council are mindful of the balance between economic growth and vitality with maintaining our quality of life.
As for the City, I want to reassure you that the first goal of Council’s Goals, Initiatives and Outcomes is to ‘protect and enhance Williamsburg’s unique character,” including not just the Historic Area but entrance corridors, neighborhoods and open spaces. With that goal in mind one of our initiatives addresses Redevelopment Focus Areas. City staff, including the Economic Development Director and Planning Director, encourage and assist in redevelopment of underused commercial properties and new infill projects. We’re focusing on several areas, including: Richmond Road near the College and from Brooks Street to Ironbound Road; Monticello Avenue in the vicinity of the W&M School of Education site; Capitol Landing Road from Bypass Road to Merrimac Trail; and Second Street, Penniman Road and Page Street.
One way we encourage redevelopment is through the Economic Development Authority’s demolition loan program to add incentives to businesses to rebuild on existing commercial sites. Two examples are the new Chipotle restaurant on Richmond and Bypass (on the site of the Rodeway Inn), and the ecologically friendly City Green project on Richmond Road next to Master Cleaners.
Unfortunately the shopping center you mention is located in James City County, so the City can’t have a direct impact on that project. I encourage you to contact representatives of the County to voice your concern. You might also attend Planning Commission meetings in the County and the City. in Williamsburg, they’re held at the Stryker Building on the Wednesday following City Council meetings. You can watch them on television and on our website as well, http://www.williamsburgva.gov/index.aspx?page=358
I also invite you to read our Goals, Initiatives & Outcomes document online at http://www.williamsburgva.gov/Index.aspx?page=59
If you would like to ask Mayor Zeidler a question, click here!