The future of a 118-acre property on Purcellville Road owned by Chuck Kuhn, a Loudoun businessman and owner of JK Moving and Storage, was the topic of discussion on January 26 at a public forum at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville.
About 50 local residents listened to Kuhn’s proposal to annex the property into the town of Purcellville and build a light industrial park, which he says can serve as a hub for service industry businesses. The proposed buildings would provide approximately 380,000 square feet of flexible industrial space.
The property, known as Warner Brook, is situated on Purcellville Road on the outskirts of town across from the Mayfair neighborhood and it is adjacent to Wright Farm.
“We want to do something that is very attractive,” Kuhn said at the meeting. “We also want to be a good neighbor to not only adjacent neighborhoods and HOAs, but also to the town.”
Part of making the area attractive would mean building at least a 50-foot buffer around the area with trees and attractive plantings, he said.
During the meeting, residents expressed concerns about traffic on Purcellville Road and the appearance of building an industrial park near a residential area.
To address traffic issues, Kuhn said he expects to conduct a traffic study and work with Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to pursue widening Purcellville Road which would allow for turning lanes.
The property has been the subject of discussion at Purcellville Town Council meetings over the past few years. In 2018, before Kuhn purchased the land, the previous owners, the Warner Family, were denied annexation for a proposed mixed-use development with indoor and outdoor sports recreation, a commercial town center and single-family detached residential housing.
Kuhn purchased the property for $3.25 million from the Warners in 2020. Another local businessman, Magic Kayhan, purchased the other 12.5 acres of Warner Brook in 2018 for $900,000, which includes the house, barns and an additional residence.
Currently, the property can be developed by-right as Joint Land Management-3 zoning, which allows for one residential housing unit on every three acres.
In October 2020, Kuhn presented his initial ideas for the property to the Purcellville Town Council.
According to Kuhn’s presentation in 2020, the proposed Warner Brook annexation could provide approximately $223,000 of tax revenue per year to the town, as well as additional revenue for water and sewer usage at $140,000 per year.
Last week, when asked about the possibility of building data centers on the property, Kuhn said he would be willing to proffer that out of the annexation deal unless it was something the town and residents wanted.
While he said the highest land value use is to build data centers, he has no intention of bringing data centers to Purcellville.
Two years ago, Mayor Kwasi Fraser said he would consider data centers in Purcellville if they were built uniquely.
When asked about his current position, Fraser told the Times-Mirror in an email that his position has not changed.
“I would only consider, after weighing input from the citizens, a data center in Purcellville or Western Loudoun if it can be safely placed underground, be made to look like a barn or a mansion, or be an edge data center at the base of a cell tower or be in a telecom central office,” Fraser said.
Fraser said his focus remains on pursuing ways to monetize the town’s assets in a way that will not compromise the charm or character of the town, such as the $900,000 of income generated by planting over 100,000 trees on the Aberdeen property as part of a nutrient credit bank.
Fraser said he recommends working with Kuhn or other land owners and the County to make the proposed Western Loudoun County Aquatic and Recreational Center a reality.
“We don’t need an annexation for that, just the right location where the Town can provide water and sewer treatment to it,” he said.
“In the words of the late great Yogi Bera ‘it’s like Deja Vu all over again,’” Fraser said. “A developer presents annexation as the solution to paying off the debt for our overbuilt wastewater treatment plant, and increasing revenue for our utility enterprise operational expense, followed by a rate consultant telling us if we don’t buy what the developer is selling, we’ll have to raise rates by 9% in water and 9% in sewer or fall off some mythical fiscal cliff.”
“This time around, however, I eagerly await the spin given that our Town received $10.5 million in American Rescue Act funds and $900,000 from the nutrient credit bank,” Fraser said.
Kuhn said he could move forward with the project without annexation; however, he said it would be a great benefit to the town and progress has to take place in the proposed location due to the economics of the value of the property.
He added that the town would benefit greatly by creating jobs and a tax base.
“The economics are [such that] this cannot remain an open field and it needs to be developed,” Kuhn said.
“We think there is a great need and this is a good location. We think service providers need a place for their business,” he said.
When asked about the proposal after the meeting, Councilman Joel Grewe said any comments are, at this point, “premature.”
“I would need to see a more concrete proposal to properly evaluate it,” Grewe said. “I do appreciate that this concept does not seem to be asking for high-density housing. Traffic on Purcellville Road is a huge concern for our community and is something that we need to carefully consider, annexation or no annexation.”
Councilman Tip Stinnette added that water constraints in the area may affect the feasibility of putting a data center on Purcellville Road.
“At this point, I do not support a data center in the environs of Purcellville,” Stinnette said.
“I support our Comp Plan which is fairly explicit on the matter of annexation…it reads: ‘Should annexation appear to be prudent or necessary, and if supported and approved by a majority of the citizens, the future land use of any annexation considered should remain consistent with the Loudoun County future land use designation applicable to the property when under county jurisdiction,’” he said.
“In short, this statement purposely removes the applicant’s incentive to gain annexation to obtain higher density land use,” Stinnette said.