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Condos, commercial space proposed in Fredericksburg

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The William Street Executive Building in downtown Fredericksburg.

The William Street Executive Building in downtown Fredericksburg.

A local developer hopes to transform the William Street Executive Building property in downtown Fredericksburg into a complex with 50 residential condominiums, underground parking and an outdoor courtyard lined with restaurants, boutique stores and professional offices.

Tom Wack and his sister, Cathy, are leading an investment group working on plans for a development on the 1.46-acre parcel enclosed by Amelia, William, Douglas and Winchester streets. They are calling the proposed development Liberty Place.

Tom Wack said the group plans to tear down the office building, which was once a Safeway grocery store, and build two separate structures totaling about 130,000 square feet for the residential and commercial uses.

His plan calls for 50 residential condominiums, some built on two levels and the rest all on one floor. The condos will range significantly in price and size, which Wack hopes will draw interest from a variety of people. One-bedroom units will start at a little under $300,000, while the two planned penthouse units could fetch $1.5 million or more.

Wack’s concept also calls for space for restaurants, offices and retail, with plenty of outdoor seating on the courtyard. He’d like to attract a fine-dining establishment, a yoga studio, high-end boutique shops and professional offices.

Most of the housing is planned for a building along Amelia and Winchester streets, while the commercial uses are mostly planned for a building along William and Douglas streets.

Liberty Place would include two levels of underground parking on the Amelia Street side catering toward residents and a single level on the William Street side for commercial users. Wack said it makes more sense to build underground parking than taking up valuable real estate for surface lots. The entrance into the parking garage will be along Winchester.

Wack noted that more and more people are choosing higher-density, walkable communities over suburbia, and he wants to play a role in bringing more residents into downtown Fredericksburg to support the various businesses there. He hopes Liberty Place —with an exterior that would be a mix of brick, stone, glass and metal—will create a distinct sense of place and offer something “new and exciting” downtown.

Wack signed a contract with The Free Lance–Star Publishing Co. to purchase the 1.46-acre property prior to the FLS’ chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in January, and that contract is being upheld in the bankruptcy case. The property is being treated as an “excluded asset,” meaning it won’t be among the current FLS assets that interested parties will be able to bid on.

Wack still needs to obtain a special-use permit from the city prior to closing on the property. He plans to submit the application by the end of the month and hopes to be in front of the Planning Commission by the end of May and the City Council by the end of June.

City zoning rules allow the residential portions of mixed-use projects in the commercial downtown area to have 24 units per acre. Because Wack wants to build more residential condominiums than would be allowed by right, he needs the special-use permit.

Wack’s proposed development is among numerous projects under way or in the works in that stretch of William and Amelia streets downtown.

Eight new high-end townhouses have been completed or nearly finished at neighboring Amelia Square, and ground will be broken soon on the next five units along Amelia Street.

On the other side of Amelia Street from the proposed Liberty Place site, one new house is being built and two more are planned. Local entrepreneur Brad Repp is also working on plans to expand the former Free Lance–Star maintenance building at the corner of Amelia and Douglas streets for a new business.

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405

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