Residents near Arcola Center in southern Loudoun say they are frustrated after developers abandoned their community years ago.
Now they are putting their hopes in a new developer as they iron out with the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and county staff the final details of a new Arcola Center project highlighted by new amenities, a primary school and expansion of a current data center.
“When you’re making your decisions on what you’re going to tweak, what you’re not going to tweak, what you’re going to approve and what you’re not going to approve, please don’t wait,” said area homeowner Kathy Wilder to the board at last week's public hearing. “We’ve waited almost three or four years now. We’ve been stuck, and no one has helped, and finally somebody is helping. We’re looking to you for that guidance and that approval to move forward.”
On Sept. 12, the board faced several zoning map and concept plan amendments for the Arcola Center, one of which includes expanding the site to allow up to 2.35 million square feet of data center development on 170 acres. The land was acquired by Google in 2017.
Arcola Center is located on the north side of Route 50, west of Loudoun County Parkway, south of Evergreen Mills Road and east of Gum Spring Road/Stone Springs Boulevard.
The applicant, Arcola LLC f/k/a Arcola Limited Partnership, is also proffering to convert 45 acres of commercial retail center use to industrial park use, delete commercial and residential phasing, remove internal pedestrian and road linkages, revise construction timing for certain regional roads, alter on-site floodplains and reduce reserved open space, according to staff reports. Other amendments propose to co-locate a proffered elementary school site with a proffered Enslave Quarters or civic area within the LDN-65 noise contour of Dulles Airport and to transfer of a proffered commuter park and ride lot to Arcola – The Shops.
Arcola Center can develop up to 1,169 residential units. There are no new residential units proposed with this rezoning.
Wegmans is under contract to acquire a piece of Arcola Center’s land as well.
“To echo what Mr. Buffington said, this proffer package is probably the best one I’ve seen since I’ve been on the board in terms of what we are actually giving up and what we are getting,” said Supervisor Matthew Letourneau (R-Dulles District).
Cooley Attorney Colleen Gillis, who represents the applicant, estimated that three roadways, including Evergreen Mills Road and Arcola and Dulles West boulevards, would be scheduled and completed faster than the county’s plan by at least three years. The applicant said they would save the county $49.2 million in transportation costs.
But county staff did not support the project. Staff recommended the board consider reviewing the idea of retaining green infrastructure and road and pedestrian networks or links, and they expressed concern about the data center becoming the dominant land use feature within Arcola Center.
A handful of speakers had mixed feelings about the project regarding green space and noise from the airport. Others expressed displeasure after the site was left incomplete a few years ago after Buchanan Partners' plans were originally approved by the board in 2007.
Supervisor Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian District), a former Planning Commission member during the emergence of Arcola Center, empathized with the homeowners who had no control over the project.
“I know there have been difficulties with the Arcola Center, and I just want to say to the residents living there I’m sorry that you all had to go through this and the difficulty,” Volpe said. “Sometimes you have to deal with change, and I’m delighted the applicant has been working with you all trying to come up with something that will be good for you and your neighbors, and you can feel good about the community you live in.”
The board will revisit the item during its Oct. 18 business meeting. Revised proffers are expected at that time.