Future Tribe Square stores may be chosen by students

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August 30, 2010

10:34 PM

The soon-to-be Tribe Square dorm might literally cater to Tribe choices.

While the William and Mary Real Estate Foundation, which is in charge of the project, has the ultimate say in regard to the tenants, the final decision on which businesses will move into the 12,000-square feet of retail space in the building’s first floor could be influenced by student input.

“[The board] will select from the offers and decide whom we want to draft the lease with,” William and Mary Real Estate Foundation Executive Director Nancy Buchanan said. “[But] the board will likely make their decision [based] on what the students will express an interest in having.”

However, the foundation has not specified any means for student input of recommendations, should they be included in the final decision.

Although no businesses have yet been announced for the mixed-use development near Wawa on Richmond Road, Buchanan said there has been corporate interest in the project.

“[Retailers have] expressed written interest in the form of a letter of intent to locate into the space,” Buchanan said. “We’re not far enough along that we can announce who the tenants might be. We are at this point collecting as many letters of intent as we can.”

While the tenant situation remains fluid, the Foundation is nearing a final decision on the project’s financing.

“We are in a unique situation, because we have had several banks competing to offer us permanent financing,” Buchanan said. “We have chosen one, and we are in the process of signing a loan commitment with them.”

Buchanan said she could not announce the name of the bank chosen until the agreement is finalized.

There is no timetable for the agreement’s completion.

A green fence now surrounds the parking lot and abandoned building Tribe Square will replace.

“[Construction is] going well,” Buchanan said. “We’ve begun pouring [concrete] last week, and this week [we began] the concrete footings.”

When the complex is completed next summer, Tribe Square will house 56 students in 14 apartments constructed on the second and third floors of the three-story building.

“For the most part, we haven’t had much student reaction because it’s been the summer,” Buchanan said. “[Generally,] there is a lot of attention, and then everything gets approved. Then you start construction and everything quiets down.”

Previous concerns of Williamsburg residents regarding Tribe Square included the building’s large size, the types of stores within the building, retail hours of operation, potential traffic congestion caused by the building, the building’s storm water draining and the lighting to which nearby buildings could be exposed from the property’s parking area.

According to Buchanan, students should expect to park in residential parking located elsewhere throughout campus, since parking near the building is likely to be reserved for workers for and visitors to the retail chains.

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