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Hotels, improvement program newsmakers
Third-quarter economic review for the Fredericksburg area

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REZA MARVASHTI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 10/16/2011

BY BILL FREEHLING

Here is a recap of business activity in the Fredericksburg region during the third quarter of 2011:

There was a good deal of hotel activity. A Comfort Inn & Suites opened at a facility formerly slated to be a Best Western outside Orange. Construction resumed at a long-stalled Candlewood Suites just off Interstate 95 in Spotsylvania. The University of Mary Washington Foundation moved toward starting its Eagle Village hotel, which is likely to be a Hyatt Place and will be financed by Cardinal Bank.

The Fredericksburg Hardware building downtown was demolished to make way for Amelia Square. Down William Street, F.W. Sullivan's Old Town Bar and Grille prepared to open a restaurant. Meanwhile, downtown businesses debated joining the Virginia Main Street Program, and the city's Economic Development Authority started a facade improvement program to spruce up downtown. Capital Ale House's annual Oktoberfest event attracted about 9,000 people.

A partnership between Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing and NVR purchased dozens of lots in the Estates at Lee's Parke development in Spotsylvania and Village of Idlewild in Fredericksburg. Toll Brothers took over the Retreat at Chancellorsville development in Spotsylvania. Walton International Group bought about 378 acres in the Lee's Parke area of Spotsylvania for about $11.58 million. And plans were unveiled for a mixed-use complex on 62 acres next to the future Virginia Railway Express station in Spotsylvania.

Utility lines were severed during the State Route 3 widening project in Spotsylvania as crews raced to finish by next year's deadline.

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced plans to bring 156 jobs to Spotsylvania with its Strategic Acquisition Center. Also in the Lee's Hill Commercial Center, Rappahannock Goodwill Industries bought the former Gallahan's Furniture building, HDT Global leased office space and Career Training Solutions finalized its plans to move.

McKesson Corp. started hiring at its new 340,000-square-foot distribution center in Caroline, which lost its HUBZone status and made plans to lower BPOL taxes for small businesses. The Caroline Board of Supervisors also approved Vulcan Materials' controversial sand-and-gravel mining project along the Rappahannock River and was sued for doing so.


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Here is a look at some local economic indicators for the three months ending Sept. 30. The data are for Fredericksburg and the counties of Caroline, King George, Stafford and Spotsylvania unless otherwise noted. The latest available data are used.

Home sales

Q3 2011: 1,033

Q2 2011: 1,167

Q3 2010: 1,015

--Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.

Median housing prices

September 2011: $200,000

September 2010: $215,450

--Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.

Hotel nightly revenue per available room

(Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania)

YTD 2011 (through August): $45.05, $40.28, $38.97

YTD 2010 (through August): $44.90, $46.28, $41.21

--Smith Travel Research

Unemployment rate

August 2011: 6.2 percent

August 2010: 6.3 percent

--Virginia Employment Commission

New vehicle registrations

Q3 2011: 3,531

Q3 2010: 3,443

--Virginia Automobile Dealers Association

Local sales tax receipts

July-Aug. 2011: $6.39 million

July-Aug. 2010: $6.06 million

--Virginia Department of Taxation

Commercial real estate vacancy rates

(Office, Industrial/Flex, Retail)

Q3 2011: 12.3 percent, 18.8 percent, 6.9 percent

Q3 2010: 15.4 percent, 18 percent, 7.4 percent

--Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer

This is a quarterly feature in which The Free Lance-Star Business team gives 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.

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