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Housing recovery, baseball deal, Legoland talks among biggest local business stories of 2013

Another year has come and gone. As always there was no shortage of business stories in the Fredericksburg region this past year. Here are 10 of the more-notable ones, in no particular order.

Housing recovery takes hold

A Stafford County home under construction. / File photo

A Stafford County home under construction. / File photo

After stagnating for years, the Fredericksburg-area housing market recovered in 2013. Sales prices had double-digit percentage increases from 2012, and new home construction picked up, particularly along Courthouse Road in Stafford County.

Fredericksburg lands a minor league baseball team 

After months of back-and-forth negotiations between the city of Fredericksburg, the U.S. National Slavery Museum and the Hagerstown Suns/Diamond Nation, a deal was reached in principle for the Washington Nationals’ Class-A affiliate to relocate to land where the slavery museum had once been planned in Celebrate Virginia South for the start of the 2015 baseball season.

Dominion Raceway lands in Spotsylvania: After some controversy, the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors approved a plan for the Dominion Raceway to relocate from Manassas to the Thornburg area for the start of the 2015 racing season. Wack General Contractor began construction on the project in the fall.

Stafford courts Legoland 

Legoland Hotel in Carlsbad, Calif. / AP photo

Legoland Hotel in Carlsbad, Calif. / AP photo

Stafford for much of the year worked on a behind-the-scenes effort to get Legoland to build its third U.S. theme park off Interstate 95 at the Centreport Parkway exit. Nothing had been decided by the end of the year.

Children’s Museum prepares to open 


The Children’s Museum of Richmond committed to opening a Fredericksburg branch in the spring of 2015. Fundraising efforts continue, including a Jan. 11 Twilight Carniball event at the Jepson Alumni Executive Center.

Downtown sees small residential boom 

Mixed-use projects involving higher-density residential communities popped up in downtown Fredericksburg. More are in the pipeline thanks in part to the city adopting the Unified Development Ordinance, which allows for higher-density projects.

Sequestration, government shutdown weigh on contractors

Local defense contractors and federal workers felt the pinch of October’s 16-day shutdown, and ongoing federal budget cuts forced area contractors to tighten their belts along with the agencies they serve.

Stellar-Union merger 

The biggest local banking story in 2013 was the planned Jan. 1 merger of StellarOne and Union First Market, which will create a combined entity that could rival BB&T for the title of largest bank in the Fredericksburg region. The merger will also lead to five local bank branches closing in May.

Coldwell Banker Elite makes a deal: Coldwell Banker Elite purchased the assets of Silver Commercial Brokerage, turning Coldwell Banker Commercial Elite into one of the largest commercial real estate firms in the area.

Area makes push for FBI 

Numerous localities in the Fredericksburg region threw their names in the hat to be home to the FBI’s new headquarters facility. Ultimately the federal government decided that the FBI would be closer to Washington. A final decision on where the headquarters will go is still up in the air.

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405