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    Long dormant property has new owner

    photoThe former Barber and Ross Window Factory property was purchased by Hobie Mitchel and the Lansdowne Development Group. Barber and Ross Co. left Leesburg in 2003 and the site has been vacant since. Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Andrew Sharbel

    The vacant property at 110 Catoctin Circle SE is in the beginning stages of becoming a prosperous mixed-use development.

    Loudoun developer Leonard “Hobie” Mitchel and his Lansdowne Development Group have purchased the Old Barber and Ross Factory site, with the intention of bridging the gap between the prosperous Leesburg Central area and the Crescent District.

    Mitchel and the Lansdowne Development Group will next submit a mixed-use development concept plan for approval to the Leesburg Planning Commission and Town Council.

    Assistant Town Manager Scott Parker said the plan will be submitted before the end of the year.

    According to Parker, in order for Mitchel to develop the area as he is planning, he is required to go through the rezoning process with the Town Council to amend the site from its current zoning restrictions.

    Parker, who has been handed the reins as the town staff point of contact for this project, feels it will be an integral piece to revitalizing and redeveloping areas of downtown that sorely need it.

    “This is going to bring much needed redevelopment to an area of the town that could use it, because we have had a lot of activity and momentum in the area of Leesburg Central and Market Station and those successes,” Parker said. “We look at this as a catalyst project to tie the Crescent District in with the downtown and be a part of it.

    “We like to have aspects of the development be able to tie the elements of the downtown into that area, like a linchpin,” Parker added.

    Town of Leesburg Director of Economic Development Marantha Edwards also feels the planned development will boost business in the town.

    “From an economic development perspective, this is going to be a positive. There is going to be an improvement of the property as it stands today,” Edwards said. “The opportunity to link Catoctin Circle, Harrison Street and what’s happening on Loudoun Street and the intersection of Loudoun and Harrison.

    “It will really become an organic link to the core of downtown,” Edwards said.

    Edwards also pointed to the benefit the property will serve for the W&OD trail and providing a physical exit.

    According to archived Times-Mirror articles, the Barber and Ross Co., a windows, doors and other custom products manufacturer, left Leesburg in 2003 for a larger facility in Frederick County, Va.

    The 7.99-acre site, which borders the W&OD trail, has sat dormant since the company left town.

    In February 2006, the property was rezoned to allow 352 condominiums and apartments and 80,000 square feet of office and retail space as part of a project proposal to redevelop the site from Mitchell & Best Homes. The redevelopment plan fell through later that year.

    At the time, the Mitchell and Best plan was also seen as a catalyst for the development of the Crescent District in Leesburg, which has since needed a revitalization.

    Parker acknowledged that several different individuals have been making bids on the property in order to see if the site was viable as a development site.

    Problems with the local flood plain as well as materials in the ground deterred many of those bidders away.

    “The site is envisioned for a mixed-use type of an area that has a mix of commercial and residential and the residential is looking like it is going to be taking the form of a variety of multi-family type units, whether it be townhouses, two-over-twos, but no apartments we are aware of at this point,” Parker said.

    According to Parker, Town Council has requested a mix of commercial and residential in the concept plan.

    “The Town Council has made it clear they would like to have a presence of commercial with the site in a mixed-use fashion,” Parker said. “I am assuming the developers have just assumed that the market layout and size has lent itself more to a residential feel.”

    Town staff has made this site a grade A priority for the town.

    “We are going to be expeditious as we possibly can, but we are unsure about a project end date,” Parker said. “We are happy the project is under contract and Town Staff is looking forward to working with the developer in order to make this the special place it can be and needs to be.”

    Comments

    I wonder if Hobie Mitchell is going to jam another 75 year Open Band contarct down the throat of the propective occurpants of this new place. Beware of Hobie Mitchell and his crowd. They only care themseleves.

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