Last week the Purcellville Planning Commission heard a proposal from the Franklin Johnston Group for the Catoctin Creek Towne Center. Their plan is to build a 176 unit apartment complex and 6 acre indoor/outdoor recreational facility, situated at the intersection of Hirst Road and Maple Avenue. The thinking behind the project is to create affordable housing for the Western Loudoun workforce and seniors in the area, as well as expand the commercial tax base for the town.
My first thought was this really doesn’t sound like Purcellville. Don’t get me wrong, I agree we need this type of housing. But part of the appeal of living here is the rural feel, and adding a development like this goes against that feel. The location is a major drawback. If you’ve driven through Hirst Road and Rt. 287 at rush hour you realize it’s a nightmare (despite the addition of a turn lane last year). I’m sure members of the Old Dominion Valley neighborhood backing to the site certainly didn’t envision this when they purchased their homes either.
On the plus side, part of the project includes a $1 million contribution toward improvements to the Hirst Road/287 intersection. In addition to that, there are the added tax revenues for the town and about 100 jobs involved with the complex. Having laser tag, bumper boats, mini-golf, and bowling would certainly be a lot of fun for the kids (heck, me too!). The power point presentation used in the meeting last week shows a design that will match the new fire station, with renderings of the recreational portion as well. The plans also call for a 4 acre “natural” area, and an extension of the walking trail.
I’m torn, not sure I want the extra traffic or for people’s first impression of Purcellville to be this Towne center. On the other hand, it would be another in town option for my teenagers to work and an alternate location for birthdays or team parties besides the skating rink. There is a long way to go in the process, a planning commission public hearing will be held in February and then it goes to the Town Council. I’d love to know what you think.