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City's population has grown 7.2 percent over past two years
Date published: 2/7/2013
BY ROBYN SIDERSKY
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
When Bill Hayes moved into Idlewild in 2007, he noticed a handful of moms gathering with their children in the Fredericksburg community's clubhouse.
That handful has grown to several dozen over the last few years as the subdivision has exploded with additional residents.
"We've seen a steady progression of home building and improvement in the neighborhood itself," said Hayes, now a homeowners association board member.
In fact, about 770 of the 785 homes planned for Idlewild are already built.
"We've seen steady growth out here. It's almost as if the recession has passed over Idlewild," Hayes said.
That growth isn't limited to Idlewild. The city of Fredericksburg's population boom over the last two years has outpaced growth in the state as well as every other locality in the region.
Between April 2010 and July 2012, the city saw a 7.2 percent increase in the number of residents, propelling its population to more than 26,000, according to figures released by the University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.
That made Fredericksburg the second-fastest-growing community in Virginia, next to Covington. That city in Allegheny County, which has about 6,400 residents, grew 7.7 percent during the period.
Meanwhile, the state's population grew by 2.3 percent during the same period of time.
The local growth seems to be fueled by new development in city neighborhoods such as Idlewild and The Preserve at Smith Run, as well as in apartment complexes such as Seasons and Cobblestone.
Seasons at Celebrate Virginia, the 232-unit complex near Wegmans, was the fastest lease deal Johnson Development Associates (which has since sold the property) has ever experienced, according to Ben Graves, the president of multi-family for the company.
He said the highest percentage of residents are people relocating to the area.
The Haven complex, across the street from Seasons and owned by Johnson Development, started leasing units last month. Graves said about 10 percent of its 250 units have already been leased.
Cobblestone, a 314-unit apartment complex off Lafayette Boulevard, was more than 95 percent leased in less than a year, said Michael Eastwood, vice president of development for Home Properties, Cobblestone's developer.
Eastwood said it filled up much faster than expected.