Supervisors consider second opinion on U.S. 1 makeover

The third study of U.S. 1 may not be the last one, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors learned Tuesday.

County Executive Craig S. Gerhart said the county may need to pay more consultants to help hammer out the findings of the Urban Land Institute, which was paid $110,000 in February to recommend ways of revitalizing the dilapidated corridor.

“We need consultants to figure out how the different developments can be made to complement each other rather than compete,” Gerhart told the board.

ULI’s recommendations were broad, sweeping and not completely specific, county officials said, and other consultants may be needed to help narrow down their myriad options.

Among the county’s many challenges in revitalizing U.S. 1 will be changing it from a north-south corridor to an east-west one, finding a way to blend the development that is already there and attracting more office space.

Supervisors are reviewing ULI’s findings for the second time. Their completed study is due in July.

Although others have studied the route, ULI’s recommendations have encouraged bold action. A new planner is expected to be on board in July to implement the findings, and $250,000 has been committed in the fiscal 2003 budget.

ULI’s core recommendation was that the county enter into an agreement with the Virginia Department of Transportation to buy up all the land along the road now and be reimbursed by the state later. That way, the county can encourage the kind of development it wants.

Some on the board are concerned about the type of development that may appear along U.S. 1, also known as Jefferson Davis Highway. Several mentioned a proposed Wal-Mart near Dumfries that Southbridge residents are opposing.

“B-1 and B-2 (business zoning) should be much more specific,” said Supervisor Ruth T. Griggs, R-Occoquan.

That zoning allows too many kinds of development, including “big box” retailers like Wal-Mart, she and others said. One of ULI’s recommendations was to change the corridor’s zoning and toughen it to attract more quality development.

In other business, the board began to prepare for the arrival of pharmaceutical manufacturing giant Eli Lilly.

The board transferred money to the county Industrial Development Authority, which acts as the board’s agent in implementing and carrying out incentive programs for targeted industries.

Eli Lilly will pay $2.6 million for 26.3 acres of land at [email protected] William, with plans to invest $426 million in an insulin-manufacturing plant. Lilly’s 600,000-square-foot plant will employ up to 705 people by 2007.

In return, the company will receive $2 million in county incentives along with $2.25 million that Gov. Mark R. Warner made available through the Governor’s Economic Opportunity Fund.

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