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November 28, 2017

Warrenton Dollar General might move to Waterloo St.

Photo/Lawrence Emerson
The 1.2-acre property at Garrett and Waterloo streets has commercial zoning, which means construction of a store there would require no town council approval.
File Photo/Cassandra Brown
If built, the new Warrenton store probably would get architectural treatment similar to the Dollar General that opened a year ago at Morrisville.
We’re still kicking the tires. We’re just trying to see if we can make things work.
— Developer Jody Bland
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Warrenton’s Dollar General store could get a new home along Waterloo Street at the western edge of Old Town.

The Tennessee-based retailer has operated a store at Warrenton Towne Center on Frost Avenue since 1993.

But its lease at the shopping center, which includes a Food Lion supermarket and CVS pharmacy, will expire next October.

North Carolina-based PAR5 Development Group identifies and develops sites for Dollar General stores.

The company has a contract to buy a vacant, 1.2-acre site at Waterloo and Garrett streets, where it could construct an approximately 9,000-square-foot building for the existing Warrenton store.

“We’re still kicking the tires,” PAR5 Executive Vice President Jody Bland said of the Middleburg Bank-owned property. “We’re just trying to see if we can make things work.”

Mr. Bland’s company has yet to discuss the Waterloo Street site with Dollar General, which would lease the property should it decide to move the store there.

“There’s no deal on the table with Dollar General,” he said. “Nothing’s been approved.”

Mr. Bland and Draper Aden Associates Program Manager Tim Dean met last Monday with Warrenton Planning Director Director Brandie Schaeffer and other town staff members to discuss the property.

Headquartered in Richmond, Draper Aden provides engineering, surveying and environmental services.

The proposed site has commercial zoning, which would allow a Dollar General store there by-right.

Mr. Bland and Mr. Dean gave town staffers a concept that showed a one-story structure fronting Waterloo Street.

The concept also showed a 45-foot-wide entrance/exit on Waterloo Street.

During the Nov. 20 meeting, Ms. Schaffer expressed various “concerns” about the plan, including a Waterloo Street entrance to the property and the building’s “orientation.”

Installing the entrance on Waterloo Street between the shopping center driveway and Garrett Street would pose safety issues for drivers and pedestrians alike, Ms. Schaefer suggested.

“That would be removing 45 feet of sidewalk,” she said. “This is an important area for us. It connects to the WARF and the schools (Fauquier High and Warrenton Middle) to Old Town. There are a lot of people who walk to Carousel for ice cream in the summer.”

Ms. Schaeffer urged PAR5 Development to revise the concept to show the driveway on Garrett Street.

Under the original concept, the building would front Waterloo Street, with the customer entrance at the structure’s northwest corner.

But Ms. Schaeffer believes the proposed, rectangular-shaped building also should front Garrett, demonstrating a “sensitivity” to existing development along that street. That effectively means the building’s rear would face the parking lot serving the adjacent Waterloo Station shopping center.

The property also has “transitional” value, providing an important connection between Broadview Avenue and “historic downtown,” Ms. Schaeffer said.

For that reason, she suggested PAR5 consider a deeper building setback, architectural features that fit the neighborhood and exterior materials such as brick.

Fauquier has two other Dollar General stores — one at Catlett and one at Morrisville.

In a departure from the standard Dollar General store, the Morrisville structure includes a pitched roof topped with a cupola, awnings over false widows with shutters, composite siding and brick.

Mr. Bland said he would consider similar design features for a Warrenton store.

“There’s the opportunity to set the standard” for the area, Ms. Schaeffer said.

Like any other user of the site, Dollar General would need to meet the towns’ landscaping, lighting, buffer and parking requirements, for example.

Because the parcel lies outside of Warrenton’s historic district, the town cannot require a developer to satisfy architectural standards.

But PAR5 Development sounds prepared to incorporate staff’s recommended changes, Ms. Schaeffer said.

“Everything brought up as an issue, they were receptive to,” the planning director said. “They didn’t say no.”

“We’re going to work with the town and be good neighbors,” Mr. Bland said.

While the developer seemed confident that most if not all of staff’s concerns could be addressed, the property — because of significant grade changes — could present significant site development challenges.

“It’s viable but difficult,” Mr. Bland said of the lot.

Middleburg Bank in 2004 paid $1.2 million for the Waterloo Street property, where it planned to build a branch.

But in the early 2000s, BB&T Bank acquired First Virginia Bank through a merger. As a result, BB&T abandoned the First Virginia Bank branch building at 530 Blackwell Road in Warrenton.

Middleburg Bank eventually leased that building for its Warrenton branch.

The bank decided to sell the Waterloo Street parcel because “it didn’t make sense to have two offices that close together,” President Gary Shook explained.

When the bank purchased the Waterloo Street property, it contained a large white home. Warrenton lawyer Rob Miller acquired the house and moved it to Garrett Street.

For tax purposes, the county values the lot at $916,600. Middleburg Bank wants $775,000 for it.

Warrenton Realtor Bill Chipman has listed the property for several years.

Explaining the difference between the parcel’s taxable value and asking price, Mr. Chipman said: “The market for commercial doesn’t support $916,600.

“We haven’t had $17-per-square-foot land sales in 10 years.”

Dollar General has leased space at Warrenton Towne Center for 24 years.

“I think it’s boneheaded” of Dollar General to leave the shopping center, said Nick Kalis, whose company owns Warrenton Towne Center. “You’re losing the benefit of two national anchors (Food Lion and CVS), visibility, 530 parking spaces, the traffic count.”

While he might contact Dollar General, he has no intention of negotiating a more favorable lease for the retail giant, Mr. Kalis said.

“I’m not going to plead with them to stay. They got a good deal there.”

Mr. Kalis refused to say how much Dollar General pays for the 9,785-square-foot shopping center space.
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Silii · November 30, 2017 at 4:42 pm
What is going on with lease rates in the shopping centers in Warrenton? These massive paved over centers are dying off - just look at the number of vacant storefronts, some languishing for 3 or 4 years. Clearly the leases are way too high or the management companies are awful. In other words, why isn't Dollar General looking for space in an existing shopping center where there is plenty of parking?
Jim Griffin · November 30, 2017 at 1:40 pm
If you consider yourself a capitalist, let money decide. If you consider yourself a socialist, let the community decide. If you consider yourself a communist, you want the government to run the store so there is no issue. I detest communism! Your choice between the other two.
citizen observer · November 29, 2017 at 10:30 am
I agree BJ. I could see a bank there, but not store like this. Those houses should never have been rezoned as commercial. It is going to create a traffic nightmare with many students from the local school walking by stuck in the middle.
BJ · November 28, 2017 at 9:01 pm
IMHO this is NOT a good location for a chain store, Dollar General or otherwise, a commercial building would look out of place and the traffic getting into and out of the Waterloo Shopping Center is bad enough with the intersection being so close.
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