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Bill Freehling is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and Fredericksburg.com. This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Bill Freehling.
Ladysmith seeing some commercial growth
The Ladysmith area of Caroline County has seen some commercial growth of late, a trend highlighted by the development of the Rappahannock Area YMCA’s fourth branch in the region.
While the housing slump and recession have hit the area’s economy hard, the new projects offer hope that better days are coming.
The largest commercial project in the area is the Caroline Family YMCA, which Manassas-based Thurston Cos. is now building. The footers and much of the building’s infrastructure are now in, and vertical construction should start soon. YMCA officials hope to have it open by early May, but June at the latest.
The new facility will be about 41,000 square feet, about 8,000 square feet smaller than the YMCA’s Spotsylvania County branch. The local Y also has branches in King George County and Falmouth and is pursuing a fifth location along the Courthouse or Garrisonville road corridors in North Stafford.
The Y in Ladysmith will include a basketball gym, lap and wellness pools, fitness classrooms, an exercise room, a children’s area and locker rooms. Rappahannock Area YMCA CEO Barney Reiley hopes the new facility will become the “focal point” of the entire Caroline community. Between 50 and 75 people will work there part-time.
The Y can be accessed from U.S. 1 through Durrette Road and Ladysmith Village. Newland Real Estate Group, which is developing Ladysmith Village, donated 10 acres for the Y to Caroline. Peggy Sue Collins, who is working on the Ladysmith Village project for Newland, thinks the Y will lead to more commercial and residential growth in the area.
The Caroline Board of Supervisors last year approved $5 million in interim financing to build the YMCA. The money is expected to be repaid through developer proffers and capital campaign funds. Union First Market Bank is among the early sponsors.
The YMCA now has temporary space next to the Food Lion in the nearby Shops at Ladysmith development. Keith Marine, who will be executive director of the Caroline Y, said fitness classes may be offered in that space before the Y opens.
Marine has been organizing events in the temporary space to generate excitement and awareness for the facility. The Y will waive its joining fee for everyone who brings a Toys for Tots donation to the office between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. this coming Saturday. Marine said there has been an “unbelievable response” so far to the Y.
In addition to the Y, there are other signs that the Ladysmith area is starting to get on developers’ radar.
Dollar General recently opened a freestanding, 9,100-square-foot store at Ladysmith Road and Allen Street just west of U.S. 1. The UPS Store recently leased a storefront at the Shops at Ladysmith. Magnolia Martin, a broker for Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer who is handling leasing at the Shops at Ladysmith, said she is talking to two Mexican restaurants about taking space at that center. Fredericksburg Asphalt and Paving Inc. recently relocated from the city to an 8,100-square-foot office and warehouse building in the Ladysmith Business Park.
More development is planned in the area.
McDonald’s has submitted plans with Caroline planning officials for a restaurant at 8265 Ladysmith Road, which is near the Exxon station off Interstate 95.
Just south of the YMCA site near the intersection of U.S. 1 and Ladysmith Road, Virginia Beach man Lee Pontes is planning a 52-acre development called Ladysmith Town Center, which he envisions as a mix of retail, restaurants and office uses catering to people in the Ladysmith Village and Pendleton communities.