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By James Heffernan -- firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- After years of negotiation, followed by the collapse of the housing market, a 36-acre tract near the Interstate 81-Va. 55 interchange is once again being primed for development.
"We're progressing along," co-owner Robert Claytor said Tuesday.
Crews with H&W Construction Co. of Winchester have begun site excavation, including cutting and filling dirt to put in an access road.
Claytor, president of Winchester-based petroleum distributor and Handy Mart operator H.N. Funkhouser & Co., along with developer Walter Aikens, purchased the property six years ago. They have gradually obtained all the necessary rezoning and permitting approvals from the town, including water and sewer lines.
The site plan calls for 58 single-family homes, 58 townhomes and 8 acres of commercial development.
Claytor said construction on the townhomes should begin in about two months, with completion expected in the spring of 2012.
The single-family homes would be built next, he said, followed by the commercial piece, which is slotted for a gas station-convenience store and a hotel.
"Right now, we need more rooftops to justify either one of those," Claytor said.
The developers continue to watch the area housing market carefully.
"We may not build all 58 [townhomes] right away," Claytor said, adding that the units that do get built will be offered for sale or for rent, "depending on what the market will support."
"We think it's a great location," he said.
How quickly the market -- and the overall economy -- rebounds will also drive plans for a commercial center on the opposite side of John Marshall Highway (Va. 55).
The 45-acre property, which lies in what town planners have termed the "Golden Triangle" at the confluence of I-81, U.S. 11 and Va. 55, at one time was set aside for a grocery store, several big-box retailers, a restaurant and up to two hotels.