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Posted May 2, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Project to bring shops, jobs to Strasburg

Claytor-Aikens project
Construction on the Claytor-Aikens project has started along Va. 55 and Interstate 81 west of Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

By James Heffernan — jheffernan@nvdaily.com

STRASBURG — The view from Interstate 81 promises to be quite different this time next year.

Site work has begun on a 36-acre mixed-use project off Va. 55 from Winchester developers Walter Aikens and Robert Claytor.

The plans call for about 60 townhouses and 50 single-family homes, along with a gas station-convenience store and a hotel.

Claytor, president of local petroleum distributor and Handy Mart operator H.N. Funkhouser & Co., said he and Aikens have owned the property for about five years and have gradually obtained all the necessary rezoning and permitting approvals from the town, including running water and sewer lines.

Claytor said some of the site grading work is now under way, and construction of the townhouses — the first piece of the development — should begin this summer or fall, with an opening scheduled for early next year.

The single-family homes would be built next, followed by the commercial piece, he said.

Claytor said he’s confident that the housing market will have picked up by 2010, creating demand for new residences, and his property near Interstates 81 and 66 is in a good position to capitalize.

Meanwhile, 45 acres on the opposite side of Va. 55 have been rezoned and a special-use permit approved for a 350,000-square-foot regional commercial center. The property, which lies on what local economic development officials have termed the “Golden Triangle,” could accommodate a grocery store, several big-box retailers, a restaurant and up to two hotels.

R.J. Turner, principal of Turner Real Estate, which was involved in the sale of the land, said it’s difficult to say when ground will be broken on the project given the housing market and the overall economy.

“I think it will pick up more slowly than it did going down,” he said.

Turner said he would prefer to see the land sold to a developer with a Virginia Department of Transportation-approved entrance.

Up the road, BPG Properties is building a 400,000-square-foot production and distribution center for California-based Solaris Paper Inc. in the North Shenandoah Industrial Park.

Solaris is the North American sales and marketing group for an Indonesian company that makes LIVI-branded paper products, including bath tissue, paper towels and napkins. Solaris plans to use the nearby Virginia Inland Port to import the virgin fiber used in its products.

The facility will be the company’s first on the East Coast and is expected to bring more than 130 jobs to Shenandoah County.

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