- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Hazel Land Companies will try again next week to get approval from the Prince William County Board of Supervisors to build a $200 million mixed-use complex near the Rippon Station of Virginia Railway Express (VRE) in Woodbridge.

Backers say the combination of high-rise condominiums, retail space and office buildings would help transform the rail station’s neighborhood from a largely residential and industrial area into an upscale business community.

The proposed 11-acre complex, called Rippon Center, won approval from the county’s planning commission June 7.

The Board of Supervisors had rejected it unanimously last year after opponents said the proposed 980-unit high-rise condominiums would create too great of a population density in such a small space.

Since then, Hazel Land has scaled down plans for the buildings to 550 units.

“I hope we’ve done what they wanted, but it’s hard to guess,” said Bob Wulff, vice president of Fredericksburg-based Hazel Land, who also is project manager for Rippon Center.

Community meetings with residents of the neighborhood, which is about two miles from Potomac Mills Mall, brought little opposition to the revised plan, he said.

The Prince William Regional Chamber of Commerce said it does not comment on specific projects that await approval, but does support development of mixed-use and commercial properties.

“We have been very supportive of revitalization in the area known as the Potomac Communities, and the Rippon Center is located in that area,” said Laurie Wieder, chamber president.

In addition to the 550-unit condominium buildings, Hazel Land plans to build 250,000 square feet of office space and 27,000 square feet of retail space at the site.

It is now surrounded by apartments, warehouses, small manufacturing plants and the VRE station.

The project would “take this area of Woodbridge into a very different direction,” Mr. Wulff said.

The VRE station is aiding Hazel Land’s hopes for tenants and buyers, placing them within a 25-minute train ride of Washington’s Union Station.

In addition, a new shopping mall has been approved to be built about a mile away with a Macy’s department store and Wegmans grocery store.

The site also overlooks mile-wide sections of the Potomac River surrounded by federal land, which would not be subjected to development that could obstruct the view.

If the Board of Supervisors approves the project next week, Hazel Land plans to begin construction in 2008 after obtaining site and construction permits and selecting a contractor. Debt and equity would fund the project, Mr. Wulff said.

In other news …

Centex Construction has won a $35 million contract to build the South Lake at Dulles Corner office building in Herndon.

The 10-story, 282,650-square-foot building is scheduled for completion in fall of 2007. Centex, whose regional headquarters is in Fairfax, was selected by real estate investment trust Brandywine Realty Trust of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., to do the construction. The building is being built on speculation.

South Lake at Dulles Corner would be the latest addition to the Dulles Corner office park near the Dulles Toll Road and Route 28.

Property Lines runs on Thursdays. Call Tom Ramstack at 202/636-3180 or e-mail [email protected]

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