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Signs of growth amid downturn
Second-quarter economic review for the Fredericksburg area

 Fredericksburg City Council is working on finding the right location for a new downtown courthouse to replace the present one, shown above being tested for leaks in 2007.
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Date published: 10/16/2010


Here are some of the business stories that made news in the Fredericksburg region during the third quarter of 2010:

National Scout Jamboree and State Fair of Virginia bring thousands to Caroline County, stimulating the local economy through sales of hotel-room nights and more.

Fredericksburg City Council mulls possibilities for new downtown courthouse.

Lots of apartment activity: Vine Place Apartments in Stafford County (renamed Arbor Grove), Windover Villas in Spotsylvania County and Kendalwood Apartments in Fredericksburg all sold to Northern Virginia investors in multimillion-dollar deals. Construction starts at The Haven at Celebrate Virginia.

Construction starts on a new cancer center at Mary Washington Hospital. Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center joins Anthem insurance network after reaching deal with the insurer.

Verizon Wireless, Hobby Lobby, hhgregg and Quaker Steak & Lube fill large vacant spaces in Fredericksburg's Central Park.

Spotsylvania reaches deal with Fredericksburg Area Soccer Association and Virginia Youth Soccer Association for the development of a 17-field soccer complex on 80 acres in the New Post area. A Premier Development League soccer team will also be coming to the area. The Virginia Sports Complex in Caroline closes.

Capital Ale House's second annual Oktoberfest event brings more than 10,000 people to downtown Fredericksburg. In other downtown news, Old Town Seg Tours, Foode and The Frenchman's Corner all open or prepare to open, while Las Palmas Cafe closes.

Premium Distributors of Virginia buys Fredericksburg Distributing Co. and some of the assets of Freeman Beverage. J.F. Fick Inc. buys the rest of Freeman's beer lines, leaving Fick and Premium as the area's only two beer distributors.

Grand opening is held at the University of Mary Washington's Eagle Village, and the first businesses there ready their openings. UMW also breaks ground on a graduate campus near the Dahlgren naval base in King George County.

Keolis Rail Services America takes over operations of the Virginia Railway Express from Amtrak. Repair work begins on the Fredericksburg train station.

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Here is a look at some local economic indicators for the third quarter of 2010 (July-September, where possible) compared with recent quarters. Unless otherwise noted, the data are for Fredericksburg and Caroline, King George, Stafford and Spotsylvania counties.

Home sales

Q3 2010: 1,015

Q2 2010: 1,180

Q3 2009: 1,138

Source: Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.

Median housing prices

September 2010: $215,000

August 2010: $231,000

September 2009: $200,000

Source: Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.

Unemployment rate

August 2010: 6.3 percent

July 2010: 6.4 percent

August 2009: 6.0 percent

Source: Virginia Employment Commission

New vehicle registrations

Q3 2010: 3,443

Q2 2010: 3,246

Q3 2009: 3,684*

*This was during the federal government's wildly popular Cash for Clunkers promotion.

Source: Virginia Automobile Dealers Association

Local Sales tax receipts

June-Aug. 2010: $9.45 million

June-Aug. 2009: $9.30 million

Source: Virginia Department of Taxation

Hotel occupancy rates

YTD 2010 through August: 59.4 percent

YTD 2009 through August: 57.3 percent

Source: Smith Travel Research

Commercial real estate vacancy rates

(Retail, Office, Industrial/Flex)

Q3 2010: 7.4 percent, 15.6 percent, 17.6 percent

Q2 2010: 7.9 percent, 14.5 percent, 18.2 percent

Q3 2009: 6.7 percent, 14.2 percent, 20.9 percent

Source: Thalhimer/Cushman & Wakefield Alliance

This is a quarterly feature that offers a snapshot of area market conditions and reviews some of the important happenings over the past three months that have affected the area's economy. Look for it a few weeks after the end of each quarter, and let us know if there are additional things you'd like to see here.