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An evolving 'Celebrate'
Celebrate Virginia is taking shape along the Rappahannock River. When it's finished, will it resemble what the Silver Cos. announced in 1998?

 As part of Celebrate Virginia North, which will be reached
by this four-lane road, the Silver Cos. will give $5 million toward the widening of U.S. 17.

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Date published: 5/30/2004

By RUSTY DENNEN

What will Silver Cos. project look like?

Chris Hornung maneuvered his blue Ford Expedition through the rolling fields and woodland along the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg.

Hornung, who works for the Silver Cos., knows the property well: He's been showing prospects around the 544 acres across Fall Hill Avenue from Central Park that will become the Fredericksburg component of the massive Celebrate Virginia development.

"When I first came back here, I'd get lost," he said, steering the SUV through one of the most prized, historic and stunningly beautiful development sites in the region.

For months, he's shuttled visitors in business suits back and forth on the property: to show them where the Hilton Garden Inn is going up next to Interstate 95, where a convention center will be built nearby, where an aerial gondola will cross the river, and way back on the property where a National Slavery Museum is planned and where Civil War gun pits are tucked into the woods.

As he drives, workmen toil on the concrete foundation of the hotel and heavy equipment scurries across the landscape.

Across the river in Stafford County the scene is the same, only the construction is more intense. Dump trucks and graders are cutting a 3-mile-long parkway from U.S. 17 through nearly 1,500 acres where an active-adult community, golf courses, a retail center and offices are planned.

Celebrate Virginia is the most ambitious project to date for the Silver Cos., whose founder, Carl D. Silver, was ranked No. 10 last year in Virginia Business Magazine's list of the wealthiest state residents.

Silver, who runs the Fredericksburg-based development company with his son, Larry, has commercial and residential interests along the East Coast and a reported net worth of $400 million.

Silver Cos. officials say Celebrate Virginia is moving along as planned. But if it is anything like the company's first megaproject--Central Park--there will be many changes along the way to completion.

That's happened already: A proposed interchange at Interstate 95 near Fall Hill Avenue has fallen through, and a new Virginia Welcome Center for interstate travelers is on hold.

In addition, the Silver Cos. added a large residential development on the Stafford side where office space was to have been.


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