|Belfort Furniture is planning to rezone to put in workforce housing and add to their already full retail operation. - Google Map|
Belfort Furniture has submitted a plan to rezone about 18 acres around its headquarters and showroom in Sterling to make it a destination furniture site that includes townhomes.
Belfort's zoning application requests that more than four acres of its property be rezoned to allow 43 high-density residential townhomes, which could be used for workforce housing.
More than 13 acres would be devoted to a large commercial center.
If the application is accepted Belfort's new center would have 143,500 square feet dedicated to sales and services with 16,500 square feet designated for office space.
Belfort is ranked 94th in the nation in furniture sold, according to Furniture Today magazine.
Matt Huber, Belfort's executive vice president, said more than 60 percent of Belfort's sales are to customers outside of Loudoun County. The company's plan is to expand and make itself more of a destination for furniture buyers, he said.
"Our goal is to grow in place and grow the retail side," said Huber. He added that Belfort has maxed out its current retail space.
When asked what a denial of the application might mean for the company, Huber responded, "At this point we have no plans to leave Loudoun. That is not at all the case."
If the application is accepted, Huber says ideally the company would build an even larger showroom.
The other path he says would be opening other stores across Northern Virginia.
The residential component of the application is part of a plan to transition a nearby neighborhood into more industrial office space.
"We want the roadway [leading to the store] to have a residential character, instead of putting an office there," said Huber.
The question the application is likely to raise is how does the board react to a major employer asking the county to compromise on building residential in the Route 28 corridor.
In the last year the Board of Supervisors has rejected requests from the developers of Lexington 7 to Greens South at Willowsford to add residential units to their projects.
Huber said the project is unique because the area is already zoned for residential and the main component of the rezoning is actually for the retail location.
"The main thing here is the area is already zoned residential," said Huber.
Currently the property is zoned for four dwelling units per acre or roughly 17 units, 26 short of Belfort's proposed 43, according to Van Armstrong, a planning program manager at the Loudoun County Department of Planning.
In its application, Belfort detailed how much it means to the county's economy. The furniture store currently employs more than 150 people and the company has generated $2.4 million in taxes over the last three years.
There will be an initial review of the application at the end of August.
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