August 21, 2020
Vint Hill apartments win planners’ recommendation
File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
Based in South Boston, Va., Echelon Resources Inc. estimates purchase and conversion of the old Vint Hill Army barracks will cost $25 million.
They do excellent work and the apartments will be first-class. They vet their tenants very thoroughly. So I’ve got very few concerns about the quality of work and the quality of the tenants that move in there.
— Vint Hill resident Tim Hoffman
• Topic: Rezoning application to amend the concept development plan to allow rehabilitation of two vacant Army barracks on 10.9 acres at Vint Hill for up to 200 one- and two-bedroom apartments.
• When: 6:48 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20.
• Where: Warren Green Building, 10 Hotel St., Warrenton.
• Agency: Fauquier County Planning Commission.
• Action: Five-member commission unanimously recommended approval of the application.
• Length: About 18 minutes.
• Speakers: Seven, with six supporting and one expressing concern about the project’s impacts.
• Issues: Housing diversity, rehabilitation of vacant Army barracks, traffic, parking, school capacity.
• Applicants: VHL East LLC and VHL West LLC.
• Landowners: Parkside Village LLC and Vint Hill Village LLC.
• Next: The planning commission serves as an advisory panel to the county board of supervisors, which has final authority. The board could conduct a Sept. 10 public hearing on the application.
Fauquier’s planning commission Thursday unanimously recommended approval of a rezoning to convert the former Army barracks at Vint Hill into as many as 200 apartments.
The 10.9-acre site lies at Sigler Road and Bludau Drive near the southwest corner of the former Army base near New Baltimore.
Seven people spoke during Thursday night’s public hearing, with six in support and one who expressed concern about the impacts additional homes would have on the community.
Ultimately, the Vint Hill Lofts project probably will feature 183 one- and two-bedroom units, according to developer Edwin Gaskin, president of Echelon Resources Inc. based in South Boston, near Danville and the North Carolina border.
No more than 20 percent of them would be two-bedroom apartments and some “will be discounted for teachers and emergency responders,” according to the application.
The two-building project also calls for a fitness center, “club room” and on-site storage.
Apartments in the Cold War-era brick structures would rent from about $1,000 to $1,500 per month.
> Documents at bottom of story
Mr. Gaskin, whose company last year completed a 22-apartment rehabilitation project in Culpeper, kept his public hearing remarks to a minimum because he believes that the Vint Hill Lofts proposal “is so well known.”
He told the planning commissioners that he would be “happy” to answer any questions. They had none.
Lynne Richman Bell serves as co-chairperson of the Fauquier Chamber’s Economic and Legislative Committee.
“We are in great support of this diverse housing opportunity” Ms. Bell said of the business service organization and the committee.
The Vint Lofts proposal “really is focusing on folks that do not have children — not saying that they’re prohibited — because it’s really ideal (with) one- and two-bedroom units for couples or adults,” she told the planning commission.
Mary Page, who lives near the project site, serves on the board of the Citizens For Fauquier County, a nonprofit group that focuses on conservation and land-use issues.
CFFC strongly supports the project, Ms. Page said.
“We’re so lucky to have found that this applicant came to the county and has the (federal and state historic rehabilitation) tax credits to be able to do this and wants do it,” she told the commission.
The re-use plan would erase a “blight” on the community, Ms. Page said.
“It’s a rite of passage for every hoodlum and delinquent in high school to take a six-pack and go smash a window out” at the vacant and long-neglected brick buildings, she said.
Julie Broaddus’ family owns the Old Bust Head Brewing Co. and 20 acres of mixed-use property at Vint Hill.
The project’s residents would support businesses at Vint Hill and elsewhere in Fauquier, Mrs. Broaddus said.
But the apartments also would help meet a critical housing need, she said.
The brewery employs many “young professionals” who lack access to local, affordable housing, she said.
“They have nowhere they can afford to live in the county,” Mrs. Broaddus explained. “They are mostly living in their parents’ basements. So this would be a wonderful opportunity for them.”
Vint Hill resident Tim Hoffman told the commission that he has visited Echelon Resources’ projects.
“They do excellent work and the (proposed Vint Hill Lofts) apartments will be first-class,” Mr. Hoffman said. “They vet their tenants very thoroughly. So I’ve got very few concerns about the quality of work and the quality of the tenants that move in there.”
The project would remove a “blight” — making the community safer — and encourage more “investment” at Vint Hill, he said.
Apartment residents also would give a boost to Vint Hill businesses that operate on “thin margins,” Mr. Hoffman added.
The Army base closed in 1997. Over the years, redevelopment of the 700-acre property has added more than 300 homes and brought numerous businesses there, including technology companies, a brewery, a winery, restaurants and a range of contractors, along with the Federal Aviation Administration regional air traffic control center.
Vint Hill resident Tim Mills suggested the New Baltimore area already has enough housing and asked county government officials to more closely study the project’s effects on traffic and public schools.
Mr. Mills also believes the project lacks sufficient parking.
Mr. Gaskin learned of Vint Hill in 2018 from a commercial Realtor and associate.
In an interview, he described the former Army base as a “rare find” and a “great redevelopment opportunity” for the community and his company, which specializes in the giving new life to historic properties.
“It’s a village, if you will, in the middle of a rural context,” Mr. Gaskin said.
He put the project’s development cost at more than $25 million.
The five-member planning commission serves as an advisory panel to the county board of supervisors, which has final authority. The board could hold a public hearing on the Vint Hill Lofts application on Sept. 10.
If the supervisors back the rezoning, the Vint Hill Lofts project also would require special exception permit approval from the board. That permit review process involves public hearings before the planning commission and the board of supervisors, which will make the final decision.
The special exception permit process will allow county staff, the planning commission and the supervisors to address specifics related to the project, said commission Chairwoman Adrienne Garreau, whose Scott District includes the site.
The project also would need county government administrative site plan approval.
Contact Don Del Rosso at Don@FauquierNow.com or 540-270-0300.
Vint Hill Lofts Application... by Fauquier Now on Scribd
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Lance82 · August 21, 2020 at 9:45 pm
I can’t wait for Manassas 2.0
RealAmericanPatriot · August 21, 2020 at 2:59 pm
And here comes the Section 8 housing projects. This is exactly how it started in Fairfax county. Just for the record the US Army maintained control of most Vint Hill until 2012 we were still using the facility until that date.
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