Patriot Ridge Update

Published 3:14 pm Tuesday, April 3, 2012

CUMBERLAND – According to the update provided by Cumberland's Community and Economic Development Director, Greg Baka, during the recent Board of Supervisors meeting, it seems Cumberland citizens will have to wait a while longer to see a grocery store finally come to fruition in the county.

The Patriot Ridge Shopping Center development, slated for Route 60 near the village/courthouse area in Cumberland, is at a stand-still due to economic woes, says Baka, and along with the delay are the plans for a grocery store in Cumberland County.

A few years ago, the developers did environmental work and the County approved a site plan in November 2008, according to Baka.

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“At that time…the plan included a large grocery store, a large retail usage, restaurants, and large out parcels for the shopping center,” he told the Supervisors. Unfortunately, 2008/2009 was a very bad time for any shopping center in America or any development to try to get started and the recession put a halt and a hurt to some of those plans…”

According to Baka's comments, the developer had secured some lease arrangements for some of the out parcels that would be retail in nature but a lease for a “supermarket or grocery store” has been unable to secure and without a grocery store lease the project is halted.

“Which is basically, the necessary anchor to get the project going,” added Baka about the need for a grocery store lease. “Beyond that, there's recently been some environmental issues and actually some issues dealing with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources even though there are no historic artifacts directly on that property.”

The developer has contacted “many grocery stores,” suggested Baka to the audience and the Supervisors.

“Concerns that he's heard from those supermarket chains is that they felt that at the time not many of those stores would be able to generate enough income to meet their industry or company's targets, so to date, from then until now, he's not been able to secure that lease which is necessary to make the project work.”

“He still continues to take steps to continue to work on that but it's difficult when we're coming out of a recession…,” Baka continued. “To take that full circle, there is no current lease for that and he continues to work on a lease and if there is a grocery store lease that comes it makes it a viable project and they can go forward.”

When contacted by The Herald this week, Cliff White, developing partner in the Patriot Ridge Shopping Center project, noted the hurdles that are currently facing the project.

He addressed the permitting process for the wetlands mitigation and said, “We received an approved wetlands management plan and a permit but the permit had two requirements…The other thing was a little bit more precarious for us in that the Army Corps of Engineers required an archaeological survey-a Phase I survey to be done due to the proximity of the project to the historical district.”

According to White, Cumberland used tax maps to note its historic boundaries and one small part of the development's 30 acres is on a tax map that was used to draw a portion of the boundary for Cumberland's historic district.

“Less than 10 percent of our land is in the historic district so we contracted with a firm from Richmond that does archaeological survey work and they submitted the archaeological Phase I survey late last summer and in December we received a letter back from the Corps of Engineers that it did not accept the report due to the, I guess, the method the firm went about doing their survey work in the field. Until I get that Phase I survey work back approved, we can't really move forward with site work.”

According to White, the additional cost of another Phase I survey is not something the developers are willing to put money into “until we get some more interest in some businesses wanting to locate there.”

Related to the actual development of the site, White said, “Until we get through this archaeological survey and we have a more solid lead on a large retail store, whether it's a grocery store or something else, we don't really see the return on our investment of putting in over a million dollars worth of site work that will be required to bring Patriot Ridge into a build-able spot. Right now, we're moving ahead in the permitting process and we're still doing the marketing process.”