The Williamsburg City Council approved plans for the proposed Triangle Retail Project at its meeting Thursday. The project allows for the construction of a three-story student residential and commercial building on Richmond Road between Wawa and the Williamsburg Baptist Church, directly across the street from the College of William and Mary.
“I think this is a great project,” Williamsburg Mayor Jeanne Zeidler M.A. ’76 said. “It addresses needs that have been talked about for a long time, which [includes] adequate housing for students.”
The building’s first floor will be dedicated to 10,000 to 12,000 square feet of commercial space, while the second and third floors will be reserved for student housing. The upper two stories will be divided into 14 apartments, housing 56 students. A Residence Assistant will live in one of the apartments.
“Although this isn’t technically on campus, it’s as close as you can get without being there,” Williamsburg Director of Planning Reed Nester said.
Council members said that the location was ideal for construction for several reasons.
“It does locate student housing immediately adjacent to campus and out of the single-family neighborhoods of the city,” local lawyer and member of the William and Mary Real Estate Foundation Vernon Geddy said.
The project required the approval of several provisions, including rezoning the area to allow for student residence, approving a parking plan and changing the maximum allowable height from 35 to 45 feet.
“It’s a win, win, win,” Geddy said. “It’s good for the city, it’s good for the community and it’s good for the College.”
The William and Mary Real Estate Foundation, the group that proposed the original project, is a private entity responsible for developing real estate for the benefit of the College.
In order to make room for the acre-sized project, three existing buildings will be demolished.
In addition to the multi-use building, the project will also include a 29-space parking lot behind the residence hall, with access from Scotland Street. The parking arrangement will be for public use only. Students living in the proposed building will have to obtain an on-campus parking permit as part of their lease.
The plan had originally proposed a parking garage to be built on the property, but it was revised due to objections from the owner of King and Queen Apartments, which face the area of the proposed building.
Council members also had objections to the suggested plan, which would require any group wishing to build a parking garage in the rezoned area to go through the Williamsburg Planning Commission and city council before building.
“I kind of feel like we’re tying our hands for future projects,” Vice Mayor Clyde Haulman said.
In addition to the Triangle Retail Project, city council members unanimously voted against an amendment to the city zoning ordinance that would have required an additional electrician to inspect houses wishing to house four unrelated occupants.
“I was hopeful that any house that was eligible to go to four people under the new guidelines would choose to do so because it would be beneficial to the community in a number of ways,” council member Paul Freiling ’83 said. “When we put additional unnecessary hurdles in the way of those houses transitioning to this four-person special use, we’re defeating our own intentions.”