Right now, it’s a mound of dirt just beginning to be leveled by a bulldozer. Sometime in 2023, it will be Manassas Park’s new city hall and library, complete with a coffee shop, restaurant and an outdoor splash pad for young families.
On Thursday, April 15, Manassas Park officials stood on the parking lot outside the existing city hall for a ceremonial ground-breaking for the planned “Village at Manassas Park,” an ambitious and complicated public-private endeavor now more than three years in the making.
City of Manassas Park Mayor Jeanette Rishell called it a “big day for all of us” and the culmination of years of planning and extensive research. The plan aims to create a new downtown for Manassas Park that will boost the city’s economic position and, hopefully, bring some relief to Manassas Park property owners, who endure the highest real estate tax rate in Northern Virginia.
“This downtown project will enable our city to achieve financial stability, and not by depending on the status quo,” Rishell said during the morning ceremony. “The city’s existing development incentives were not working, and there had to be a realization that we needed a market viable approach. This project accomplishes that.”
The project replaces the existing city hall, which was initially built as an industrial space and needs extensive renovations, according to staff reports compiled by City Manager Laszlo Palko.
It will also allow the city to continue and expand its first library, which opened last year in a temporary space in the old clubhouse at the former General Ridge golf course, which was formerly owned by Prince William County but closed in 2019.
The new city hall complex, under construction at Park Center Court and Manassas Drive, will be closer to the existing Manassas Park VRE train station, which is also getting a new lift. The commuter train station is slated for a new, indoor parking garage with more than 500 spaces, paid for by money coming to the state for transportation projects from Express Mobility Partners, which will operate the I-66 Express lanes. The new garage is also slated to be finished in 2023.
The current city hall will be torn down and will be replaced with a new movie theater and about 300 new stacked townhomes. The movie theater, a Cafe Cinema, is hoped to be completed by 2025, according to Manassas Park officials.
The project will be built in three phases. The city hall, library, coffee shop and outdoor plaza will come first, expected in 2023. The existing city hall will be torn down sometime during that process and will require the city staff to relocate temporarily, Palko said Thursday.
Once the city hall is demolished, work will begin on some of the first 174 “stacked townhomes,” sometimes called “two-over-two condominiums,” which will be built by homebuilder Stanley Martin. It’s the same firm that built the townhomes at the new “Landing at Cannon Branch.” The style of homes in Manassas Park, however, will be less modern and more traditional, said Truett Young, who attended the ground-breaking ceremony.
Young said sales of the new homes, a mix of two-bedroom and three-bedroom floor plans, will begin in early 2022. The homes are expected to start in the mid- to low-$400,000 range, Young said.
The townhomes will be built in two phases, with the first expected to be completed in 2024 and the second phase expected in 2026.
The tax revenue generated from the new homes and businesses is expected to cover the annual lease-to-own payments the City of Manassas Park will incur as a result of the project, which total about $45 million spread over 30 years.
The local economic development authority issued about $31.2 million in revenue bonds to finance the project.
“This development will bring in the much-needed revenue for the city, and there will be zero negative financial impact to current residents,” Rishell said. “The new city hall and public infrastructure costs will be supported by the increased real estate and personal property taxes from new development.”
Reach Jill Palermo at firstname.lastname@example.org