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Project to break ground soon?
Council gets its regular update on Celebrate Virginia

Date published: 2/22/2007

BY EMILY BATTLE

The Silver Cos. are hoping to start moving dirt in the next 30 days or so for the World Street development planned for the Fredericksburg portion of their Celebrate Virginia Development.

The 550,000-square-foot retail development--bigger than two Wal-Marts--is meant to evoke the shopping experience of an international bazaar.

Chris Hornung, vice president for planning and engineering for the Silvers, told Fredericksburg City Council members on Tuesday that the developer is about a quarter of the way through sales for the project, which could open in late 2008 or early 2009.

Hornung's Tuesday presentation was one of the semiannual updates required in an agreement the city struck with the developer in 2005.

He said he expects to have bigger news to announce on the 544-acre tourism complex in the coming months.

Hornung said work on Rappahannock Ridge, a 168,000-square-foot entertainment, retail and restaurant district, will come a little later, possibly starting this summer.

Silver expects the beginnings of that district--which is being designed by the same company that revived Beale Street in Memphis--to open next year.

The waterpark hotel that has been talked about as a part of Celebrate Virginia--envisioned as a 500-room, eight-story facility--is a little further off.

The developer is performing feasibility studies on the project right now, working on financing and seeking out possible sponsors.

Hornung said the earliest area residents should expect to see that facility open is 2010.

Hornung also said he is hopeful that construction on the United States National Slavery Museum can start as early as this summer.

He said Museum Executive Director Vonita Foster told him Tuesday that the museum has a board meeting this week, and is hopeful the board will authorize some construction on the proposed museum to begin this year.

The museum is working to raise $100 million to build the project, and spokesman Matt Langan said Tuesday that Foster said the museum hopes to open one exhibit in 2007, and is planning a "soft opening" in 2008.

The museum's founder, Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder, held a press conference at Central Park in the summer of 2005, and he said the museum would be open in October of 2007.

Emily Battle: 540/374-5413
Email: ebattle@freelancestar.com