Impact of Destination Stafford
Destination Stafford will strengthen the social and economic structure of the entire County by developing a central place where residents, businesses, and visitors can gather and exchange goods and ideas. Destination Stafford creates the innovative or the 21st century core for the heart of the community. This urban yet authentic and diverse landscape will attract talent, new investments, and entice new and expanding businesses.
The area will integrate smart community solutions focused on public safety, data security and training, economic development and tourism, and the expansion of 5G technologies. The plan calls for “multi-layered public realm”, a variety of “housing choices,” the desire for “connectivity” to other surrounding areas for Stafford, and “walkability.”
Destination Stafford will help alleviate the “retail gap” in Stafford and provide for new investments and create community gathering places. In 2018, Stafford engaged Stantec Consulting to recommend how the County’s 23 acres may be developed as part of Destination Stafford. Those plans suggested 92,000 square feet of retail space. Stantec estimated a $1.3 Billion retail gap in Stafford County. The market will determine the final mix, but the County’s 23 acres in Destination Stafford further closes the retail “gap” in Stafford County. Read more about the Retail Gap Analysis here.
Advisors and experts agree that the gap and “place” must be designed and include a walkable, vibrant, authentic downtown, and a mix of housing and the inclusion of experiential retail amenities such as shopping, entertainment & dining.
Research has shown that well planned, dense “urban-type” developments generate more economic return to a community than “suburban sprawl”. These kinds of developments generally create less burden on local services and schools per square foot—a portion of a healthy growth strategy. In simple terms, increased density results in increased value per acre, more sales (and sales tax) per square foot, and a walkable and desirable human experience.
The development of Fountain Park, alone, is estimated to create over 250 jobs and generate over $615,000 in new tax revenue. Fountain Park will offer a mix of in-demand rental housing units targeted to smaller families and working adults.
Stantec’s recommendations for the development of the County’s 23-acres in Destination Stafford offer a glimpse of how Destination Stafford may develop.
Together, Fountain Park and the development of the County’s 23 acres are estimated to create over 500 jobs and generate over $23M in wages. Together, these projects will generate, conservatively, over $2.8M in new tax revenue in Stafford, more than covering the public costs associated with the development.
Stafford County continues to offer a valuable quality of life and our population continues to grow. The County plan for growth is to develop in Targeted Growth Areas (TGAs). These are areas in the County where a potential concentrated urban or higher density suburban development pattern is most appropriate. These areas will support a more intense, pedestrian and transit-oriented form of development, located in close proximity to primary road networks, transportation hubs, and along the rail corridor. Destination Stafford is a TGA and promotes walking, biking, and using public transit over autos. This urban, interconnected and advanced community may likely attract young professionals, many without children, lessening the impact on the county’s school system. The resulting improved density may increase value per acre, and thus more sales and sales tax per square foot.
Stafford’s plans for “Smart” technology envisions the most modern and forward-looking design and integration of technology to support public works, public safety, and public and cultural programming. Stafford has partnered with the Virginia Center for Innovative Technology to be the home for the Virginia Smart Community Testbed. Not only will Destination Stafford be “smart,” but it will likely foster and encourage entrepreneurs to start or expand their business in Stafford. Destination Stafford will be one of the first smart communities in the region and will host leading Smart Technology initiatives in the state. Destination Stafford and the development of the County’s 23-acres will embrace these technologies and will incorporate experiential retail and eCommerce into a traditional brick-and-mortar landscape.
Innovative outdoor designs and structures will be a pillar for the County’s 23-acres in Destination Stafford. We (the community) can help design an urban environment that represents Stafford’s unique history and culture, while still being modern, and integrating new design and technologies. The Board of Supervisors and community recognize the desire for urban open spaces. We envision an environment that provides for live performances, events, and family-friendly recreational activities in the midst of restaurants and retail, in a walkable district. All the while with design and programming elements that are authentic and celebrate Stafford.