Developers have decided not to pursue plans to turn part of a downtown Fredericksburg street into a pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly area they’d envisioned as The Promenade.
Bill Vakos Jr., head of Vakos Cos., and Tom Wack, head of Wack General Contractor, sent a letter to City Manager Tim Baroody last week withdrawing their request for the city to vacate the right-of-way for the 1000 block of Douglas Street between Amelia and William streets. They’ve also withdrawn their appeal of the Planning Commission’s June 26 decision that the vacation wasn’t in accord with the City of Fredericksburg’s 2015 Comprehensive Plan.
“We have not come to this decision lightly, but after carefully listening to the concerns of area residents, we believe that this is in the best interest of the City and our projects. We look forward to working with City leadership and staff in the future,” Vakos and Wack said in the letter.
William Square, a Vakos Cos. affiliate, is planning to build two apartment buildings, a hotel and a parking deck on the blocks containing The Free Lance–Star’s former office and the recently demolished William Street Executive Building. Liberty Place Partners, which is affiliated with developers Tom and Cathy Wack, plan to build the Liberty Place commercial building on the William Street side of the block where the William Street Executive Building stood.
Vakos held a public information session about the projects July 24 in the former FLS office at the behest of City Council to give the public a chance to see renderings of the project and ask questions before council members were scheduled take the second and final vote on vacating ownership of the street Aug. 13. About 120 people, including most of City Council, attended.
With the exception of The Promenade, all the development that Vakos and Wack have proposed would be by-right.
“The City will continue to work with Vakos on the overall project, and consider potential improvements to the 1000 block of Douglas Street that would result in an attractive, functional and safe public right-of-way for both vehicles and pedestrians,” city public information officer Sonja Wise wrote in a news release.