A groundbreaking event at One Loudoun may seem old hat at this point — there have been several for various elements of the project — but Tuesday’s has to be among the most exciting.
The developers — Miller & Smith and North America Sekisui House — have started construction on the first three buildings in the commercial area of the mixed-use development, one of which will house the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. .
Alamo restricts talking and cell phone use during movies. It offers dining options along with multiple draft beers and a cocktail lounge.
Alamo also offers signature events such as sing-a-longs, quote-a-longs and feasts. During feasts, the venue runs a movie or series of movies and then serves food related to the film in some way. For example, at some of their theaters they have shown the Lord of the Rings trilogy and served Hobbit food to patrons.
Currently, the closest Alamo is in Winchester.
“We take pride in providing an experience that can be enjoyed by astute moviegoers, families and everything in between,” Alamo’s Joseph Edwards said during the ceremony, promising there would be “no dancing popcorn” on the screens before movies start.
One Loudoun’s 358 acres are zoned for 1,040 homes, 700,000 square feet of retail uses, 3 million square feet of office uses and a hotel/conference center. The development includes more than 100 acres of parks and trails.
In addition, One Loudoun has provided a number of proffers, including the land where Steuart Weller Elementary School sits, land for the Loudoun County/Route 7 Interchange, the construction of keys segments of Marblehead Drive and Russell Branch Parkway and related traffic signals.
“We completed this long before we started anything with our commercial plans,” Miller & Smith’s Bill May said.
One proffer remains snagged: the Ashburn Village Parkway/Route 7 Interchange, which One Loudoun agreed to construct since the Loudoun County Parkway/Route 7 Interchange had already been constructed by the county.
“I need that interchange over there,” Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) said, acknowledging that a couple of obstacles remain. “I think we’re getting close.”
The acquisition of the land required to construct the interchange has been a problem since it's entirely offsite from the development for which it is proffered.
Supervisor Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian) said just hearing about Alamo made her anxious for it to open.
“After the drafthouse presentation, I think we’re all ready for a beer,” she said. “This is so exciting for Loudoun County and our community.”
But she wasn’t just talking about the Alamo: One Loudoun has also worked out an arrangement to develop a World Trade Center site, which Volpe said makes her “jealous” the development is not part of the district she represents.
Volpe served as a planning commissioner when One Loudoun was approved and praised the developer for committing to significant proffers.
“They have been an example to follow,” she said.
As for the drafthouse, Buona called it a “fantastic anchor” for One Loudoun and said he planned to beat Volpe to the punch for scheduling a fundraiser once it opens.
And work is under way. While most groundbreakings include the obligatory shoveling of dirt by elected officials and project leaders, Miller & Smith’s May said Tuesday served as a real groundbreaking.
“I’m pleased to tell you we’re actually pouring the footing for the first buildings … today,” he said.