Apartment complex, more shops proposed for Box Hill South

Abingdon's Box Hill South neighborhood is primed to get a 400-unit apartment complex, as well as a handful of new stores and restaurants near the Wegmans in Boulevard at Box Hill, the developer told the Abingdon Community Council Monday.

Bavar Properties Group/Murn Development wants to build a variety of upscale apartment buildings, a project called Enclave at Box Hill, where monthly rent would range from $1,350 for a one-bedroom apartment to $2,000 for a three-bedroom townhouse.

The project would be behind the YMCA off Box Hill Corporate Center Drive. It would essentially back up to the developments that branch off Windy Laurel Way, around Meadow Valley and Laurel View drives.

Chris Murn explained the project would not be "just identical buildings," but would include sites like a "manor building," an "elevator building" and a clubhouse, pool and smaller buildings.

"There's a little sense of place and sense of arrival," he said.

Jim Martin, president of Ward Properties, the master developer of the Box Hill community, also attended Monday's community council meeting and said construction is almost finished on a two-story retail building at Boulevard at Box Hill that will feature a spa, jewelry store, pet supply store, an Asian restaurant and a physical therapy office.

The buildings are intended to connect with the recently-opened JCPenney, he said.

Another building will have a "women's fashion" emphasis, he said, as developers are in talks with Ann Taylor Loft, Chico's, Coldwater Creek and Old Navy, as well as Carter's children's clothes store.

They will probably be interspersed with stores like a yogurt shop, Subway and Sprint, Martin said.

The developer has also talked with two or three Italian restaurants, with Olive Garden and Carrabba's showing the most interest, he said.

A community input meeting on the apartment project was held Oct. 16, and the Abingdon community council did not raise serious objections to the development.

The main concerns were traffic-related, as Martin said eight intersections would be studied for traffic impact.

Council member David Copenhaver suggested Plumtree Road, site of a proposed and highly controversial Walmart, be included in the traffic study and that the pedestrian needs of senior citizens and parents of young children be considered.

He referred to last week's Development Advisory Committee meeting on Walmart and questioned the narrow scope of county traffic studies.

"At the DAC meeting, I'm still confused why our county, when we do a traffic study, we do it in a bubble," Copenhaver said.

Martin said Ward Properties is also looking at the possibility of more transit stops to serve the apartment residents, as well as pedestrian and bike paths.

"We hope to be proactive as far as suggesting solutions to some of those bottlenecks," he said about traffic concerns.

Copenhaver also encouraged installing traffic calming structures at Woodsdale and Corporate Drive, which several other residents pointed out were difficult spots for making left-hand turns as well.

Copenhaver said he was "really pleased" to see how the developer is protecting the environment and assumes they are using transit to reduce the number of cars around the site.

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