Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Kalahari--Questions Please

In reading some of the posts on Emily Battle's story of the Kalahari incentives a concern has been expressed that people will not be able to make it to the January 15th public hearing. This is an extremely important issue that will impact the City's future and I want to make sure everyone has an opportunity to raise questions, concerns or comments and to share them in a public forum. Please post your comments, questions, or criticisms. I will answer questions posted as quickly as possible. Feel free to respond to what others have posted and to my comments. The letter of intents outlining the proposed agreement between Kalahari and the city can be accessed at
Emily Battle's story on the incentives can be accessed at I look forward to hearing from you.

In repsonse to some of the questions I've seen I am adding sites to look at. The first is the City's Comprehensive Plan--
On page (97) you will find the outline of the City's Plans for the Celebrate VA tract.

The second are two stories that ran in the Free Lance Star regarding the water and traffic impacts of this project in comparrision with other types of development--

I will keep this post on site for questions as the discussions on Kalahari continue.


MMQC said...

Matt- I want yo sincerely thank you for being so open on the comments on the FLS yesterday. I am not sure that there is a better way to calm the fears of others then you are doing. I am sick of my taxes going up and look forward to Kalahari and others. Keep up the good work.

josh said...


Great to see your blog. I just found out about it. I am not up to date on the Kalahari question but will become more educated in the very near future. Just wanted to let you know I found you and plan on haunting you via the internet now.

Thanks for your involvement in in the City of Fredericksburg. While we may not agree on everything I think we share the desire to see the city prosper. Best wishes and I hope you family is well and you son is out of harms way.

Josh Duncan

Bryan said...


I've talked to a number of people about this development. It's interesting that most don't know that this area was always destined to be developed into something, and that the City is well positioned to meet the water needs of the park. I consider this a lot like going to a car wash that recycles it's water instead of washing your car at the house in a drought.

As a city citizen, I'm not happy about signing up to 20 yrs of incentives, but then again it's a compromise and I'm sure Kalahari wanted a lot more in the near term.

Here is what is important to me. In our current zoning laws, there are clauses for maintaining as many of the existing trees as possible. There are also clauses about glare. I want to see a parking deck instead of more paved lots (expo center included). I want to see low wattage lighting, with no upward facing lights. Lets keep the riverfront as dark as possible. I want Kalahari to conserve and recycle as much as possible. I do think the city gave up too much on their water costs, I think we could have incentivized them to use fewer gallons of water through escalating water costs starting in year one.

Lets talk to the Central Park tenants and CVA about putting in a better thru lanes into Central Park, maybe removing some stoplights, putting in traffic circles for exits (lets get creative), because more stoplights does not improve traffic flow. Having all of that tourist traffic going through our biggest retail area is sure to generate more sales. Now lets make it a better experience for those tourists.


MMQC said...

Bryan- I can agree with a lot of what you are saying except the water cost incentive. The agreement as spelled out by the Economic Development director at the presentation specified that they do have incentive to conserve water. The City will separate the water and sewer bill. For the rest of us, we pay for sewer purely based on our water consumption. If I understood the presentation from watching it on TV, Kalahari has the opportunity to reduce the sewer bill by conserving water. It sounds like an incentive to me.

There are so many reasons to do this, I am really struggling with the folks that magically want high paying jobs to appear here instead of tourism. I think this could actually bring conventions that would attract corporations to look at Fredericksburg like they never have before.

Matt- Is the city going to do an independent fiscal impact study from Kalahari's? I can not imagine that it would show anything but a win for the city with other businesses likely to settle around the resort.

Matt Kelly said...

Bryan—Some of the points you made are currently under discussion. With the cost per space for a parking deck I don’t know how far that will go. As noted on the Letter of Intent we did get agreement on the use of Low Impact Development (LID) practices and that the project will not be visible from the river. These are two points we have insisted on in regard to the development of Celebrate VA. Councilman Solley has already brought up the lighting issue and that will be part of the discussions. While Kalahari does expect reduced water/sewer fees they are limited to projected needs. If they exceed the limit they will pay accordingly. Kalahari will be expected to pay any percentage increases in water/sewer fees over time. Discussions have been on going regarding recycling of water and we will continue to encourage conservation.

We have explained to the Silver Cos that Kalahari represents the anchor business at Celebrate VA. It should attract more tourism related business and we do not expect to have a need for incentives for that development. We do expect that development or the developer to help pay for infrastructure costs such as roads, EMS/Fire services ect.

There are already improvements on the way regarding Rt. 3--additional lanes, extending turn lanes, and traffic controls. This work will be done as part of the Spotsylvania Towne Center development. We are also in a partnership with VDOT, Federal Highways and the Silver Cos. on designing an interstate access into Celebrate VA that will turn into the Spotsylvania Greenway to move residents around the commercial congestion of Rt. 3.

MMQC—We have been consulting a firm that has been involved in putting deals like this together. They have been retained to assist us in any future discussions with representatives of Kalahari. We are looking at all the numbers to determine whether this is a good deal for the city.

Madry's said...

While I support the Kalahari project (with some minor reservations) I do have a question about this “Spotsylvania Greenway” road that we keep hearing about. How does the city intend to complete this “Greenway”? There is a major stumbling block in the way; a 125 acre track of land that extends from Fall Hill Avenue all the way to the river, including the riparian rights. Neither the City nor the Silvers own any of that land. An out of state developer owns it and has plans to develop that land himself somewhere in the not to distant future. I know the pat answer is that we will incentivise him by holding up his rezoning until he grants the land for the Greenway. The only problem is that, that would be a dangerous game of chicken due to the fact that he owns the riparian rights. He already has by-right zoning for about 100 houses a dozen or so of which could be located right on top of the bluff overlooking the river. Imagine that the City takes a hard line and condemns a portion of his property and in an effort to recoup the loss he put a half a dozen McMansions looking right down on the river. Imagine a huge 10,000+ square foot house sitting right on top of climbing rock. So, my question again is how does the city plan to complete this “Spotsylvania Greenway”?

Matt Kelly said...

MADRY’S—This is a joint City/Spotsylvania project. As for acquiring any property in Spotsylvania for the “Greenway” that will be up to the BOS or possibly VDOT. The route for the road alignment is based on Option #5 of the old Outer Connector study. In this case, however, there will be no bridge over the Rappahannock. An Interchange Justification Report (IJR) is currently being done, funded by FAMPO, VDOT and the Silver Cos. to determine the feasibility, location, and cost of the road. The IJR is a requirement before a project can proceed to the next phase, which is an environmental impact study. Some of the preliminary impact work was done as part of the original Outer Connector study. If the project moves forward it will be at least partially funded through tolls.

I am not familiar with the land ownership issues you outlined but your concerns are well taken and will have to be addressed.

Madry's said...

The land in question is within the city limits and runs along the Celebrate Virginia tract all the way from Fall Hill to the river. In order for a “Greenway” out of Celebrate Virginia to reach Spotsylvania County it would either have to go across this property, or loop over Fall Hill then through Central Park, then back over Fall Hill in order to run on the north side of Route 3. Is the plan to loop around this property or to cut across it?

Matt Kelly said...

MADRY’S—My apologies you are correct. Thought you were specifically looking at the greenway. With the possible positioning of Kalahari the point where the off-ramp will go is still under study. We are expecting to have word by March on the proposed route within the City boundary. My guess would be it would follow close to Fall Hill Ave.

Rebecca said...

I think it is crucial to ask why Kalahari needs nearly $60 million to make this project work. I am not opposed to Kalahari or incentives but one would have to ask why such a large amount given that they will be pulling from a very desirable Northern Virginia to Richmond demographic.

Matt Kelly said...

Rebecca—Kalahari may or may not get 61 million dollars. The agreement is that they get a portion of the revenue they generate. If you do a google search on incentives you will find that in a lot of cases the return to the developer is over 50% and as high as 75%. Terramark wanted to go to Culpeper and they still got incentives. That is the current dynamic in economic development.

When Council discussed the use of incentives it was understood we would not sign an agreement where the developer got a greater return than the City. If they perform well they could get up to 61 million. If not they will receive less. And remember if they get 61 million we get 64 million.

Kalahari was not planning to locate in Fredericksburg. They had intended to locate in Hanover Co. or near Williamsburg. We asked them to look at Fredericksburg as a site. We showed them the demographics, the site, and they expressed interest. They stated what their basic conditions for negotiations and the Council agreed to begin discussions. Those discussions are on going.

Another aspect of this project that has gotten little attention is the positive financial impact on the region when a 238 million dollar is invested. The multiplier is between 4 and 7. There is also the indirect benefits—Increased business to restaurants and shops at Celebrate VA, Central Park and downtown for one. And Kalahari will attract other tourism related business to the area that will not require incentives.

To put the Kalahari discussions in perspective I would look at the recent Rolls Royce deal brokered by the state. For a total of 56.5 million dollars in incentives the state will get a 100 million dollar project.

Bryan said...


The new comp plan has been posted to the city website with all of the edits to the drafts incorporated. Also included links to the two appendixes which I think are just as important as they include some important supporting data and traffic info.