Germantown's $90M TraVure development wins final approval by Michelle Corbet

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After nearly two years of a back and forth between developers and neighboring citizens, the City of Germantown approved its first mixed-use development in the city’s Western Gateway district.

The overall plan for TraVure, a $90 million mixed-use development with office, retail, restaurant and hotel space, was approved unanimously by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) Monday, Feb. 22, before a packed chamber.

The development could have received a final stamp of approval last month by Mayor Mike Palazzolo, but Palazzolo decided to hold an additional public hearing before the final vote by the BMA to give all interested parties “one final bite at the apple.”

A handful of representatives from the abutting Nottoway subdivision spoke in opposition of the high-density development just west of their property lines.

“Good gravy, what happened to our wonderful live, work, play development?” Nottoway resident Lizette Flowers asked the BMA Monday night. “What we’ve gotten is a lot of density for the sake of density. I would compare it to a fat lady in a bikini — it’s not a pretty sight. . . Or maybe I should have said a 300 lb. man in a Speedo."

Germantown Economic Development director Cameron Ross says the high-density development could result in more than $2 million in property taxes on a site that currently brings in less than $50,000 a year.

After Alderman John Barzizza suggested delaying the vote to give developers and the subdivision time to reach additional compromise, Alderman Forrest Owens, who voted against the development when it went before the Germantown Planning Commission in December, said, “It’s a struggle. I’m a fan of this development. Is it perfect? No. Is it a true live, work, play development? I would change a couple of things, but it is a development that meets our ordinances and has zero warrants, so I’m struggling with where we are now."

Ross said compromises have been occurring for more than two years at this point, beginning with zoning, continuing through the planning process and even resulting in additional conditions with the final vote.

The City of Germantown added conditions Monday night that would allow the city to determine the location of the proposed traffic signal, which became a hot-button issues when Robert Fogelman presented an 11th-hour amendment before the Planning Commission vote to move the traffic signal closer to his Westminster Townhomes development, just west of TraVure.

Other conditions include a potential gate restricting access after certain hours and a heavier landscape buffer to shield the Nottoway subdivision from noise and light.

“This is where we are; this is what we’re looking at,” Owens said. “If we turn this down tonight, we are sending a pretty clear message that a developer can come to town, and meet our ordinance requirements, and still be rejected. That’s a struggle to me.”

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