BY MICHELLE DACHMAN
The UMW Foundation recently bought the Park & Shop Plaza as well as the Pizza Hut and two houses across from campus.
On Dec. 15, UMW Foundation, a non-profit corporation that accepts and manages university funds, bought a new lot on Powhatan Street across from the UMW campus. The lot is home to the Pizza Hut along with two single family homes, which are located at 1214 Powhatan St. and the other is on 1217 Thornton St.
The two owners, who were planning to sell the homes, approached the UMW Foundation about a possible purchase, according to Jeff Rountree, chief executive officer of the UMW Foundation.
The land was originally appealing to the Foundation as a parking lot for commuter students and one third of the block was already owned by the Foundation. Rountree said there are no plans to close down the Pizza Hut or change the business in any way.
“We hope it continues to operate as a Pizza Hut,” Rountree said.
The Mary Washington Foundation bought the Park & Shop Plaza on Jan. 22.
The Park & Shop Plaza houses the Country Cookin’ restaurant along with Outlooks for Hair, Glass America Auto Glass and a Best-Way Rentals and Sales.
In a statement, President Judy Hample said, “They are the only properties immediately adjacent to the university that we believe we can acquire without disrupting the residential neighborhood of College Heights.”
Rountree said he felt that the UMW Foundation needed to act quickly on the purchase to protect the College Heights community from any unfamiliar contractors and what they might suggest for the land.
“The purchase was something we wanted to gain access to right off the bat,” Rountree said.
The Pizza Hut was assessed at $1,081,400, according to the Virginia Mass Appraisal Network and the house next door, which is estimated to be worth $240,300, were originally owned by Hugh and Renna Cosner.
Renna Cosner worked as a librarian at Trinkle Hall for several years, when the academic building was a library. The Cosners will continue to operate the Pizza Hut through a newly formed lease with the UMW Foundation.
The other single family home on Thornton Street, which is estimated to be worth $256,400, was owned by the late Anne Hamer. Hamer worked for the music department at UMW for more than 40 years.
The houses on the property will be rented out to UMW faculty members.
“I guess it’s ok, but I don’t really see the advantage to it,” senior Kevin Morris said.
Some students had mixed feelings about the purchases.
Andrew Lee, a commuter, said, “I’m not a huge fan of Pizza Hut, but I’m glad that the university community is expanding.”
The shopping area will continue to operate as it is and will become part of the newly developed Eagle Village that is scheduled to open in August, according to Rountree.