The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Businesses exit Falmouth intersection area
BY BILL FREEHLING
Businesses have started moving from the Falmouth intersection in Stafford County as the Virginia Department of Transportation prepares to begin demolition work.
Blazes, which sells hearth and patio products, recently moved out of the space it had occupied for nearly 25 years at the intersection of U.S. 1, U.S. 17 and Butler Road. The company reopened Monday in its former warehouse not far away at 19 Baron Park Road off White Oak Road.
Blazes owners Lance and Carol Foshee changed their business model because of the move. They are now offering “warehouse pricing” that is as much as 10 percent lower, and plan to do more marketing to get the word out about their new location. They considered leasing a more visible retail storefront, but said they’d then have to pass along the higher rent costs to customers.
“We’ve had to redo our whole strategy,” Carol Foshee said.
Jim Wicker, whose Potomac Realty Inc. brokerage firm was on Butler Road near the intersection, is moving to an office at 1135 Heatherstone Drive near BJ’s Wholesale Club off State Route 3 in Spotsylvania County. He said VDOT has now acquired the property he was in.
Koons Automotive will move the sales side of its dealership to a leased space a quarter-mile north on U.S. 1 at 174 Cambridge St., which was formerly the home of EZ Ride Autos. Koons’ service division will be across U.S. 1 in the Falmouth Industrial Park. The business will move in about a month and half.
In May, VDOT paid about $1.3 million for a 1.5-acre former bank property at the Falmouth intersection that Silver Cos. CEO Larry Silver had owned.
Chris Blazek, who owns the Glover Enterprises Inc. wood, gas and pellet stove business at the intersection, said he is still looking at several possible locations in the Fredericksburg area to which he might move the store.
Eventually VDOT will acquire 27 properties for the $25 million project, which will widen the often-clogged intersection with eight new turn lanes. The completed project—which will also include new medians, trees, stone walls and a sign welcoming drivers to Falmouth—is expected to reduce wait times at the intersection to about a minute in 2016. Without the improvements, the projected average wait time would be four times that.
VDOT spokeswoman Tina Bundy said the department expects to close on all the properties at the four corners of the intersection by the end of the month. Occupants will then be given 30 days to vacate. Bundy said the Stafford Fire and Rescue Department will use the Koons building for training for a short time.
She said demolition work on the buildings will begin in November and should be completed by the end of the year. VDOT will then begin identifying and moving utility lines. Construction on the project is expected to start in early 2014 and last up to two years.
Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405