Rappahannock News

Social Services to move into Rush River Commons

Developmen­t organizers in search of restaurate­ur


With constructi­on of Rush River Commons forging ahead, a clearer picture has emerged of the organizati­ons that will occupy the forthcomin­g mixed-use developmen­t in the Town of Washington.

According to Betsy Dietel, a spokespers­on for the project, the Rappahanno­ck County Department of Social Services is slated to take up the entire 3500 square foot top floor of the planned office building.

DSS, which has long held residency at its current location at 354 Gay St., has been limited by the site in terms of its ability to serve clients, youth who may be in the organizati­on’s care and families or seniors engaged with the agency, according to Director Gail Crooks.

“The [Rush River Commons] space provides opportunit­ies to serve our citizens, especially our youth and seniors, with services and support that are not possible in our current location,” Crooks said in a statement. “And a wonderful added bonus will be being close neighbors with the Food

Pantry and others, and the greater opportunit­y and ease in working together the close proximity will allow; helping each of us do what we do better and with greater impact.”

Rapp at Home will have a space in the planned o ce building, according to Dietel. The Rush River Commons administra­tive o ce, which currently sits outside the town, will also eventually move into the planned o ce building.

The Rappahanno­ck Food Pantry is expected to move into a 4,400 square

feet space at the developmen­t, according to site plans.

Developmen­t leaders remain in the process of nding an entreprene­ur who will open a co ee shop or eatery for the community to gather, eat and drink at the developmen­t. They’re in talks with food-oriented people, who Dietel declined to name, to potentiall­y open a business at the location.

“I think that the ideal tenant would be somebody who would have a space that is welcoming to the whole community – kind of a place for folks to come and get breakfast and lunch and maybe a er hours be able to gather and do some kind of an evening musical or pop-up dinner,” Dietel said.

The goal is to make it an a ordable spot. “We want it to be a mix between Before & A er and the Country Cafe,” she said.

An open house event for members of the community to provide input on the developmen­t is planned for March 25 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Washington School, located 567 Mt. Salem Ave.

Organizers are tentativel­y hoping to have organizati­ons moved into the developmen­t by January 2024. “I’ve learned that in this business, giving people speci c dates is not a good idea,” Dietel said. “But our goal is to have people in there rst of the year.”

The developmen­t is expected to span more than 242,000 square feet and includes road and drainage improvemen­t for a portion of Leggett Lane, a town-owned road, and other o -site utility improvemen­ts, according to a summary of the site plans approved by Town Council. The developmen­t’s 18 housing units are expected to span nearly 22,000 square feet.

Rush River Commons is also ex

SPOKESPERS­ON BETSY DIETEL ON A POTENTIAL EATERY: “We want it to be a mix between Before & A er and the Country Cafe.”

pected to include 9,600 square feet for the o ce building. A 10,000 square foot bioretenti­on facility is planned to serve the o ce building, according to the site plan summary. Nearly 100,000 square feet of parking space, loading areas and internal walkways are also outlined in the site plan summary, as well as an 80,000 square foot “conservati­on area.”

A proposed expansion of the developmen­t – which could feature additional community and arts space – remains caught up in talks over whether the Board of Supervisor­s and Town Council can reach an agreement to change Washington’s boundary to accommodat­e it.

Dietel said organizers are beginning discussion­s to re ne what could be included in a potential expansion. She said there is a need for additional o ce space and a community center, potentiall­y with a commercial kitchen and sound acoustics to hold large gatherings. “The goal is to be exible and allow for a variety of things to happen,” she said.

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