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City moves on tourism zones
Fredericksburg City Council moves closer to approving new and expanded tourism zones

 Businesses in Central Park and Eagle Village (above) may soon be eligible to apply for economic incentives.
ROBERT A. MARTIN/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 10/13/2010

By KELLY HANNON

Businesses in Central Park and Eagle Village in Fredericksburg are closer to being eligible to apply for economic incentives as part of newly created and expanded tourism zones.

On the first of two required votes, Fredericksburg City Council voted 5-0 last night to expand the Celebrate Virginia South tourism zone to encompass Central Park.

Council also voted 5-0 to create a new tourism zone for Eagle Village, a mixed-use development along U.S. 1 near the University of Mary Washington.

Council must vote again on both matters at an upcoming meeting for the changes to go into effect.

Under the proposed change, businesses in the Celebrate Virginia/Central Park and Eagle Village tourism zones must make either a minimum $500,000 capital investment or create at least 25 jobs to apply for economic incentives.

Incentives can include relief from business, professional and occupational license tax, relief of sales, meals or lodging tax, if applicable, or relief from building permit fees or water and sewer connection fees.

Also, Council voted 5-0 in the first of two required votes to change the structure of incentives for an existing tourism zone in downtown Fredericksburg and along Princess Anne Street.

Under the new structure, existing businesses could create five jobs or make a $125,000 investment to qualify for incentives, instead of the previous standard of a minimum of 25 jobs or $500,000 investment.

New businesses in the downtown/Princess Anne zone would have to create a minimum of 10 jobs or make a $250,000 investment to be eligible for incentives.

Jeff Rountree, chief executive director of the University of Mary Washington Foundation, was the only speaker during a public hearing on the tourism zone changes.

Rountree said the foundation is trying to attract restaurants and a hotel to Eagle Village, and the zone's incentives could be beneficial in that effort.

A handful of businesses have used the city's tourism zones to gain economic incentives. Four businesses have qualified for incentives through the existing tourism zones: Bavarian Chef, Capital Ale House, Kybecca and Wegmans. When it opens, Kalahari Resorts would receive economic incentives, as a member of a tourism zone encompassing only Kalahari Resorts.

Fredericksburg Mayor Tom Tomzak was absent from the meeting due to the birth of a grandchild, and Councilwoman Kerry Devine was absent due to illness.

Kelly Hannon: 540/374-5436
Email: khannon@freelancestar.com