12/08/07: “Mary Washington Buys Shopping Center,” Richmond Times-Dispatch

Mary Washington Buys Shopping Center

The University of Mary Washington yesterday bought a nearby shopping center that it plans to transform into an upscale development featuring shops, theaters and student apartments.

Plans also call for the project to include housing for UMW faculty and staff, as well as employees who provide essential services, such as teachers, police officers, firefighters, nurses, medical technicians and others.

The site is about one-third the size of the main academic campus in Fredericksburg, where university officials said they are hemmed in and pressed for space.

Officials would not disclose the price for the 21-acre site along U.S. 1 when they announced the purchase yesterday, nor would they say how the price compares with the current $18.3 million real estate assessment for the property.

But they said no state money or student fees were used to buy it, nor would either source be used as the university’s real estate foundation develops the property over the next 10 years.

Jeff W. Rountree, vice president for university advancement, said he envisions shops with apartments over them, clustered amid parklike open areas. A pedestrian bridge across U.S. 1 would link what is known as the “Park & Shop” shopping center to the main Fredericksburg campus.

UMW officials said they do not plan to increase enrollment at the university, which has nearly 4,000 undergraduates. In some cases, three students are assigned to dormitory rooms because university housing has about 100 students more than its planned capacity. About 2,480 students live on campus.

The new housing, which officials hope to build in the first few years of the project, would accommodate about 350 to 400 students and help relieve parking woes for residents in neighborhoods where some off-campus students rent houses.

Kiran Krishnamurthy: (540) 371-4792
Email: kkrishnamurthy@timesdispatch.com
Published: December 8, 2007 by Richmond Times-Dispatch

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