Creating a New State Park

Property Image
Source: Photography by Terri

Our client, the Robert and Dee Leggett Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization based in Loudoun County, Virginia, together with the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship and the Old Dominion Land Conservancy, is happy to announce the donation of more than 600 acres to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the creation of a new state park. After nearly a year of planning, drafting, negotiation and evaluation of the project the deeds were signed late in 2013, and the Governor announced the donation on January 10, 2014. The announcement was widely published in the Washington Post and other regional news outlets. Former Governor Bob McDonnell, Secretary Domenech, Delegate Minchew, Delegate LaRock, and others thanked the Leggett family for their generosity.

WCL&W was hired to assist in evaluating the feasibility of the project, determining what tax incentives might be available, drafting all relevant documentation, and to assist in negotiating the donation with the Old Dominion Land Conservancy and Department of Conservation and Recreation. Attorney McWilliams’ strong background in tax matters and prior experience with conservation easements, mitigation banking, charitable entities, and environmental/tax incentive programs enabled WCL&W to develop a solution that ultimately provided the Robert and Dee Leggett Foundation with significant land preservation tax credits in exchange for a donation they wanted to make to preserve one of the most scenic – and historically important – portions of Loudoun County, Virginia for future generations.

The Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship remains operational on the 600 acres as well as an adjoining property and is open to the public as a place to hike, enjoy nature, and participate in environmental learning programs. They also host activities in conjunction with many local partners, including Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, U.S. Trail Ride, the American Conservation Film Festival, and Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops.

More information on this outstanding contribution by the Robert and Dee Leggett Foundation can be found in the Washington Post and on the Loudoun County Government Website.

Crescent Place

Our client, Leesburg Acquisition Partners LLC, sought approval for a mixed-use showcase project in Leesburg, Virginia. The development property was an assemblage of the abandoned “Barber and Ross” and “Perry Engineering” properties, which had been long-viewed by the Town of Leesburg as the centerpiece properties that needed to redevelop in order to “kick-start” implementation of their Crescent District Master Plan.

WCL&W was hired to navigate this process.

In order to achieve the client’s goal, WCL&W filed and processed a Zoning Amendment application and incorporated an adjacent AT&T utility site.

Success was achieved with approval of a mixed-use showcase project that includes 224 residential units and 32,000 square feet of commercial space.



Boeing Regional Headquarters

Our client, Monument Realty, a residential and commercial developer, sought approval for a first-class regional headquarters for Boeing Company in Arlington County, Virginia.

Monument asked Walsh Colucci to negotiate the required land swap, density transfer from one land parcel to another, General Land Use Plan amendment and site plan approval based on their long standing relationship with Art Walsh.

This request was particularly challenging. In addition to security challenges, there were community and Federal concerns about building height and visible signage because of the property’s proximity to Reagan National Airport, its location adjacent to an Arlington County signature park along the Potomac River, and its immediate proximity to the National Park Service controlled George Washington Parkway. Shareholders, Art Walsh and Evan Pritchard patiently addressed each of these concerns in a series of community meetings and other high level negotiations and hearings.

Success was achieved with approval of a six-story, 453,422 square foot regional headquarters for Boeing Companies that solidifies the presence of this major corporate entity in Arlington County.

Boeing Regional Headquarters Arlington County


Potomac Shores

Our client, SunCal, an experienced developer of master-planned and mixed-use communities, sought to obtain entitlements for Potomac Shores, one of the larger mixed-use developments in Northern Virginia.

SunCal sought our firm’s expertise in the entitlement process and knowledge of Prince William County’s zoning practices.

Walsh Colucci partners Mike Lubeley and Pete Dolan, along with Land Use Planner Susan Flanigan, worked hand-in-hand with Sun Cal and their development team on all aspects of this project, which resulted in a well-planned development that the stakeholders, County Staff, Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors supported.

The efforts of the Walsh Colucci team assisted SunCal in fulfilling their vision for Potomac Shores: an approximately 1,885 acre resort destination with up to 3,987 homes and 3.7 million square feet of commercial space, including a resort hotel, town center, marina, 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, a Virginia Railway Express station and a substantive public and private amenity package. Highlights of the project include maintaining 45% of the site as natural open space, transportation solutions, 10 miles of natural trails and a section of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail as part of the overall pedestrian network, elementary and middle school sites and approximately 55 acres for recreational fields, including two lighted artificial turf fields.


Potomac Shores Development


Saving Money by Planning

Our clients, a husband and wife, owned a sizable family farm comprised of numerous parcels of real estate, and also owned various other agricultural operations in Virginia. Their initial objectives were to reduce or eliminate estate taxes, and transfer the assets to their children.

Mr. McWilliams was recommended to the clients by their financial advisor, who knew of Mr. McWilliams’ expertise in these matters.

Upon review of the clients’ existing estate planning documents, Mr. McWilliams discovered that not only did their current planning documents subject all their property to probate, but they could subject the property to estate taxes upon the death of the first spouse. The probate and administration costs associated with their estate would have been in excess of a hundred thousand dollars, but the prior attorney – who is a well-respected general practitioner in their locality – failed to use revocable trusts and other non-probate transfer mechanisms in their estate plan. Mr. McWilliams was ultimately retained to prepare new wills, trust agreements, powers of attorney and advance medical directives, and also assisted with family business and succession planning advisory services.

The planning undertaken by the client will ultimately save them hundreds of thousands of dollars in probate fees and estate taxes (while costing a very small fraction of that amount to implement), reduce their annual insurance expenses, reduce their liability exposure, and streamline the transfer of assets to the next two generations of their family. They are also continuing their relationship with the financial advisor who generated the referral; who has now invested their assets in an appropriately balanced portfolio; and they are considering moving their accounting work to a new firm that is well-respected and can likely provide the more comprehensive services they need at a lower cost than their current accountant.

Stonewall Secure Business Park

Our Client, Stonewall Creek, LLC, sought to develop a large campus of high-security uses and facilities on approximately 194 acres of land south of Leesburg, Virginia. It was imperative that approval be obtained for this specific location, which provided strategic access to the adjacent Hybrid Energy Park, natural gas lines, lit fiber optic infrastructure, fiber optic infrastructure corridors and non-public accesses. In addition, the Metropolitan Area Exchange East (“MAE East”) lies in Loudoun County, and is the source through which thousands of Internet Service Providers exchange internet traffic between their networks. Data centers positioned close to MAE East have a better ability to deliver content throughout the world at a lower cost of internet bandwidth.

With so much riding on a positive outcome of this application, Stonewall Creek, LLC hired Walsh Colucci’s Managing Shareholder, Randy Minchew, and Senior Land Use Planner, Kimberlee Hise based on their many other successful applications in the area and their familiarity with the staff, elected and appointed officials.

It was determined that approval of both a rezoning and special exception application would be necessary. Adding to the difficulty, the Comprehensive Plan recommendation for the Property was for a green, open-space, visual buffer between the rural western portion of Loudoun County and the suburban eastern portion of Loudoun County.

Over the objections of the Planning Staff and the Planning Commission, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors approved the applications, paving the way for the construction of a secure business park that includes approximately 2.9 million square feet of data center use as well as another 1 million square feet of non-data center uses including; office space, warehousing, health and fitness centers, a carry-out restaurant and a firearm range, among others.


Stonewall Secure Business Park

Virginia Square/Latitude

Our client, The Penrose Group, a Tysons-based developer, sought to redevelop a block in the Virginia Square section of Arlington for a primarily residential use.

Based on Walsh Colucci partner Nan Walsh’s knowledge of the Arlington County process, her creative solutions within that process, and her successful track record obtaining approvals of difficult applications, The Penrose Group retained Nan to obtain the entitlements necessary for their redevelopment project.

The project required approval of a Site Plan by the Arlington County Board. The project, called “The Latitude” was not deemed to be fully compliant with the guidance in the 2002 Virginia Square Sector Plan, which recommend mixed-use with office for this site. Nan Walsh, assisted by Land Use Planners Megan Rappolt and Elizabeth Nicholson, worked through this process, which included a deferral and review by an Ad-Hoc Committee to determine if residential use was in compliance with the Sector Plan.

Given that the case would rise and fall on a policy question, the outcome of the case was uncertain until the County Board took their final vote. Nan Walsh’s presentation to the County Board, which pointed out that the proposed residential use provided more open space, more interesting architecture and tapering, greater building setbacks, better and more inviting pedestrian connectivity around and through the site, 630 less daily automobile trips and a variety of housing types and affordability than its office counterpart was crucial to the approval. Success was achieved with approval of a twelve story, 265 unit residential building with ground floor retail, a cultural space, two connected public plazas and 262 below-grade parking spaces. The building will be LEED Gold and LEED EBOM certified and includes a kinetic art sculpture in the Fairfax Drive plaza. The site plan received bonus density for the LEED certifications and the provision of 14 on-site affordable housing units, 11 of which are two-bedroom units.


Virginia Square Arlington VA

VDOT v. Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, Inc.

Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, Inc. sought to obtain the maximum amount of just compensation for VDOT’s taking of 1.5 acres of Wolf Trap’s land from a 4.97 acre wooded lot for the construction of a traction power substation associated with development of the Metrorail’s Silver Line. Wolf Trap hired WCL&W’s eminent domain practice group led by Michael J. Coughlin based on a previous and successful zoning entitlement relationship with the firm. WCL&W assembled a team of expert witnesses to help build the case that Wolf Trap’s 4.97 acre property had a highest and best use as an “estate lot” suitable for a large residence before the taking. WCL&W also worked with an expert appraiser and engineer to understand the impact of the taking on the property’s development potential and value. Based on these expert’s findings, WCL&W advanced a theory and valuation based on the remaining property being a “problem lot” that was no longer suitable for residential development because of the property’s post-taking configuration and the location of the unsightly power substation. After settlement discussions with VDOT’s attorney were unsuccessful, WCL&W tried the case for three days in Fairfax Circuit Court in front of a jury, utilizing TrialDirector® software for the presentation of exhibits. Success was achieved when a jury awarded a total of $603,000 in just compensation to Wolf Trap, which included $308,621 in damages, and which was well above VDOT’s original just compensation offer of $321,937. WCL&W worked efficiently with the team of experts to control costs. The distribution of the final award resulted in a sizeable “net gain” for Wolf Trap because of WCL&W’s efforts.


Wolf Trap Property—Pre-Taking

Wolf Trap Property

Wolf Trap Property—During VDOT Construction

Wolf Trap Property Construction


Georgetown Ridge

Our client, the owner of 15 acres of prime real estate off of Georgetown Pike in McLean, Virginia, sought to sell this property. Another client, WCI/Renaissance, sought to purchase the land for residential development. With a conflict waiver from both parties, Walsh Colucci was able to accomplish this goal.

WCI/Renaissance knew of Walsh Colucci’s reputation for professional integrity and fairness and retained shareholder Mark Goetzman to represent them in the development phase of this matter.

Mark was able to negotiate a final sales contract to the mutual benefit of both clients – the sellers and the purchasers. A rezoning application was filed and processed. Development plans required Walsh Colucci to structure a land swap with adjacent land owners to gain enough land for extending public right-of-way onto the property. Additionally, the site plans obligated an adjacent landowner to vacate his rights to an access road, which Walsh Colucci was able to administer. WCI/Renaissance then tapped the firm’s real estate expertise to draft the development documents and homeowner’s association documents.

Success was achieved with approval of the property’s rezoning to permit an enclave of luxury estate homes. The ability to navigate the intricate elements of this development project and create the solutions highlights the value of the Walsh Colucci real estate transactions group.