Despite the hard economic times, Eagle Village is proving to be a lucrative location for area businesses.
Chief Executive Officer of the UMW Foundation and President of Eagle Property Holdings Jeff Rountree is very pleased with the new retailers, which include Salad Creations, Blackstone Coffee, and Hometown Grill.
“We of course own nearly 200,000 square feet of space over there and most of the ‘older’ section is fully leased,” Rountree said. “Having just finished Eagle Village about six months ago, we are extremely pleased with the pace of retailers signing leases and opening their stores.”
The location is ideal for new businesses, bringing in patrons and bolstering sales, according to Rountree.
“In this poor economic environment, where very few retailers are opening or expanding, this is extremely unusual to see such robust activity. But, the location of Eagle Village along US Route 1, in the middle of the city, and next to a University makes our site very attractive to restaurants and retailers,” Rountree said.
Many undergraduate and graduate classes at UMW conducted student surveys in 2007 and 2008, assessing students’ wishes for Eagle Village, according to Rountree.
“In general, students wanted lots of restaurants and café’s that would stay open later than 9 p.m.,” Rountree said.
Many students are pleased with the restaurants that have opened so far and hope to have more. Sophomores Kellan Latif and Lindsey McCready want a Tropical Smoothie and Five Guys to open if possible.
The new section of Eagle Village is currently 51 percent leased, at 15,832 square feet, according to Rountree. The Foundation is in the process of finalizing a lease in the older section of Eagle Village, making that section fully rented out.
The Foundation owns and operates over 170,000 square feet of space in the combined old and new sections of Eagle Village.
All the leased areas in the new section are currently open except for Baba Ganoush Mediterranean Grill, which hopes to open in May.
The Foundation is working with a number of businesses that hope to lease more of the available space. A number of potential tenants have submitted Letters of Intent, or non-binding expressions of serious interest.
“If the LOIs we are working on right now come to fruition, we would be just under 70 percent leased up in the new section, 68.4 percent to be exact,” Rountree said. “That said, nothing is a done deal until a lease is signed and in this economic climate, many prospective businesses plan to open a store and find they can’t get financing through the banks.”
Since prospective tenants typically insist on confidentiality until a lease is signed, Rountree cannot discuss the specifics of what businesses might be interested.
“Having only opened six months ago, the fact that we are already over 50 percent full is extremely good in this economic climate where very few new businesses are opening anywhere,” Rountree said. “With the economy in the shape it is in, our plan was to fully lease Eagle Village within three years of opening in September of 2010. As you can see, we are far ahead of that schedule.”
Store Manager Sharon King of Salad Creations finds Eagle Village a convenient space for attracting students and locals.
“We have been open for five-plus months now and are pleased with business. We are constantly seeing new guests come in as well as the loyal regulars we have acquired since we have been open,” King said.
“[There is a] wide variety of guests living, working and studying at Mary Washington University, Mary Washington Hospital downtown Fredericksburg, and the surrounding residential and commercial areas,” King said.
General Manager Melissa Froede of the Hometeam Grill, which just opened this past Sunday, finds Eagle Village a convenient location for business.
“This location has great opportunity,” she said. “Central Park has a multitude of selections but we have a wide range of opportunity here, and it’s more convenient and easier to get to. It’s beautiful. People are going to find us driving past us going to Giant. We expect to do really well at lunch because we’re surrounded by the university and residence part of downtown.”