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Project's moving ahead, with a few alterations
Local homebuilders sign on to Amelia Square project

 Fourth-floor outdoor covered terraces at the Amelia Square townhomes will offer panoramic views of downtown Fredericksburg.

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Date published: 11/13/2011

BY BILL FREEHLING

Two local homebuilders have signed on to construct the high-end townhomes planned at Amelia Square in downtown Fredericksburg.

James McCloskey and Patrick Gay, close friends who both have more than a decade of experience building homes in the area, including at Fawn Lake and the Estates of Idlewild, have formed a new company called Simply Home LLC to tackle the Amelia Square project.

The two men are partnering with Amelia Square developer the Silver Cos. They're also working with The Columns Group, a developer that has built similar neighborhoods in Atlanta, and architectural firm Benchmark Design International. They recently visited Atlanta to get a firsthand look at representative communities.

When plans for Amelia Square were publicly unveiled in April 2010, Atlanta-based homebuilder Brunning & Stang was slated to be the project contractor. Silver officials later looked closer to home to find a custom builder to take on the project, and worked out a deal with McCloskey and Gay.

Plans for Amelia Square have been tweaked slightly since the initial unveiling. The four-story units are now designed to be 50 feet deep, 2 feet less than previously planned. Units will be 20 or 24 feet wide, creating structures that are significantly bigger than most townhomes in the region.

A total of 20 townhomes are planned, compared with the 19 envisioned last year. The developers have also scrapped plans for the highest-end models, which had three-car garages and were priced at $1.3 million.

The units are now starting at about $729,000, about $40,000 less than before, and ranging to about $849,000. The lower prices reflect the slightly smaller sizes as well as the current state of the housing market.

Each of the brick homes is still designed with high-end amenities including elevators, two-car rear-load garages, master suites, gourmet fixtures and fourth-floor outdoor covered terraces with panoramic views of downtown.

Amelia Square is on a site bordered by Amelia, William and Winchester streets as well an alley behind houses on Prince Edward Street. Residents would drive into the development through a courtyard entrance, perhaps gated, off Winchester.

The former Fredericksburg Hardware store was torn down this past summer to make way for the development. Plans eventually call for a three-level, 51,000-square-foot commercial building facing William Street, but that part of the project is on hold for now.

The developers continue to meet with city officials and refine their plans for the project. A site plan could be submitted in the next few weeks, and site work could begin within the next several months. McCloskey and Gay hope to break ground on the first five units--which will go down Winchester starting at the corner of Amelia--by early summer and complete them by the end of 2012.

Future homes will be built as contracts are signed. Realtor Heather Hagerman continues to meet with prospects about the homes. The builders are optimistic about Amelia Square and think demand will pick up as people see activity on-site.

"It's perfect for Fredericksburg and great for that area," McCloskey said.

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405
Email: bfreehling@freelancestar.com