Developer seeks VDOT money

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL — A developer wants the state to help build a bridge and extend a road in its Warren County shopping center.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday heard about a request by the developers of the Crooked Run West shopping center north of Front Royal to participate in a cost-sharing deal with the Virginia Department of Transportation. The board plans to consider applying for up to $6.59 million through VDOT’s “revenue sharing” program. Of that amount, $5.86 million would go toward the cost to extend Crooked Run Boulevard via a bridge over Crooked Run to the next area slated for development.

County Administrator Douglas Stanley explained that an extension and bridge project would require no local money. The developer and VDOT would split the cost of the extension and bridge.

Crooked Run West owns several parcels of land to the west of Crooked Run, north of Interstate 66. The first phase of Crooked Run West on U.S. 340-522 opened in 2007, center Manager Ed Murphy told the board.

“We’ve got retailers knocking on our door — large, attractive users that want to come in,” Murphy said. “We don’t have the space.”

The developer owns 98 acres zoned for commercial use behind the center and also owns an additional 50 acres that also could be developed. The parcel immediately behind the center already has water and sewer service, natural gas and electricity. The developer expects to invest two to three times the $24 million spent to build the first phase of the center, Murphy said.

Typically, developers cover the cost of transportation improvements when a project creates more traffic, Stanley explained. In some cases the traffic increases on a road regardless of development, he added.

Supervisor Richard Traczyk recalled that in the early stages of the project the developer planned to cover the entire cost of the road improvements and the bridge. Traczyk asked if that plan changed.

Murphy replied: “If we could afford to do it, we’d do it and right now I can tell you that being able to reduce our exposure on the development of the bridge will allow us to offer the kind of retail deals that we need to do on the other side.

“Helping us out with the cost it will allow us to bring in market deals. But if I’ve got to carry the whole cost of the bridge and further infrastructure it will be more and more difficult to do the attractive market-rate deals we want to give.”

The cost-sharing program would give the developer the opportunity to build the project and ultimately market the rest of its property. Stanley said that “it’s a good program in that it’s a way to help the developers absorb some of the costs of the improvements.”

Information provided by Greenway Engineering shows that Crooked Run Boulevard is planned in three phases, with the route extending from the existing shopping center, through the developer’s properties and connecting at Ritenour Hollow Road. Greenway Engineering notes that two adopted transportation plans identify Crooked Run Boulevard as a road to connect U.S. 340-522 and Ritenour Hollow Road.

The first phase of the extension that spans about a half mile includes improvements between U.S. 340-522 and its end at the entrance at the 7-Eleven store, the construction of the bridge, new travel lanes and turn lanes as well as traffic signals.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com