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Get Ready For The New Soviet Woodbridge

By Greg L | 29 December 2008 | Prince William County | 35 Comments

After years of neglect under Supervisor Hilda Barg, Woodbridge has become a dysfunctional eyesore in Prince William County where vacant buildings compete with struggling junky retail shops and day labor sites along the Route One corridor to see which can make a community look the least attractive.  In close proximity to the remarkable success of the Potomac Mills area, Route One is Prince William County’s community of failure.  Supervisor Frank Principi has decided to take up the cause, and recently hosted a “charette” to bring various interest groups together to start laying out a plan for this troubled area, which he has released on his website.  It’s an interesting read, especially when you start wondering what’s really behind the pretty powerpoint sales presentation that resulted.

You might wonder what a “charette” is, as I did.  Abandoning what would undoubtably be a fruitless attempt to divine understanding by trying to figure out what this word is supposed to mean, I delved into the actual result for a more reliable answer.  Despite the obscure terminology, what a “charette” is seems rather simple.  You get together those folks who could stand to make a boatload of money, give them a captive audience of government functionaries and members of some citizens groups that didn’t seem to exist in any meaningful way prior to this exercise, and what you end up with is a developer’s dream master plan on how to profit from adversity, complete with “community buy-in.”

If there was money to be made in enforcing zoning regulations, we should have held one of these to combat residential overcrowding, as this is a terrific publicly-funded public relations effort for the benefit of some private entity that wants to do something. Sadly, the concentratd profit opportunity lies more in seeing the law not get enforced rather than ensuring it is.  So here we are.

My definition of “charette” is that it is the sound of taxpayer dollars being whooshed together before they end up being sucked into someone else’s pockets.  Shar-et. Most of us regular folks will never, ever hear that sound.

What this grand primo redevelopment plan appears to be is to transform North Woodbridge into something resembling the Market Common in Clarendon, or Carlysle Square in Arlington.  Never mind that those developments happened because of a local economic opportunity and didn’t need some goverment-sponsored panel being led by the nose by developer interests to make them happen.  It would seem the only way we’re going to get “Little Alexandria on Route One” is by government intervention, though.  It’s sort of like a Soviet Five Year Plan for Woodbridge, with great public spaces just begging for the county to commission a handful of statutes of Vladimir Lenin, or to name after some undead elected official searching for immortality in the “Supervisor Sandbag’s Square of Pure Public Happiness (A Designated Starbucks Location)”.

No grand Plan Maximo can succeed however without the appropriate level of publicly-funded pedestrian bridges, traffic roundabouts, carefully-sited road narrowings and other area accoutrements that will properly set the stage for such a piece de resistance.  That’s right, we’re going to create roundabouts.  Apparently no one listening to that sweet “charette” sound has ever driven in New Jersey, where they’re diligently tearing these apart to establish rational road interchanges.  To create the proper environment, we’re going to actually reduce road capacity through road narrowings, but that will supposedly work out OK since no one living in the New Soviet Woodbridge will want to drive cars when they can get around by VRE, ferries, green solar-powered robot driven rickshaws or be carried about by porters in royal processions.

The vision here is quite alluring, even if this hyper-luxury futuristic New Soviet Community will have the appropriate number of residential units designated as “affordable housing” as a salve to the anguish of helping a lot of priviledged wealthy people get a lot wealthier by creating an exclusive community for the wealthy.  With the wave of the magic governmental wand and the infusion of untold quantities of taxpayer wealth, “North Woodbridge” will become the place to be, a green, eco-friendly, low-carbon “transit-oriented development” that will make liberal hearts go atwitter at the sight of stacking human beings up like cordwood in highly dense, concentrated areas where they are forced to grow dependent on government for everything.  Gosh, it’s just so inspiring.

And no, this isn’t supposed to be anything like those high-rise public housing projects of the past, even if those folks depended almost entirely on public transit as well.  Really.

I’m sure Plan Maximo is going to have a lot of fun winding it’s way through the various bodies that will have to wade through this glossy package to determine what the real story is underneath the pretty pictures.  Hopefully some dedicated citizens will add to that joy by giving up some of their time with their families in order to attend planning commission hearings and board meetings to demonstrate what this really is all about, although they shouldn’t have to.

Had Frank Principi just withstood the urge to start rebuilding Woodbridge and instead tried clean up the problems that are keeping commerce and visitors out of this dump, Woodbridge residents and business owners would likely work this mess out on their own.  As long as hordes of illegal alien day laborers squat on properties in the area, and help it look like a museum of third-world pestilence, no amount of Soviet planning is ever going to turn this sow’s ear into a golden purse.



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35 Comments

  1. Here we are! said on 30 Dec 2008 at 12:57 am:
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    Boy Greg,did you ever hit something square on the head,as you did in this case of Woodbridge!! We have lived in Woodbridge for Forty plus years. We love our Woodbridge. We have had Charettes at least one time about 10 years ago.Nothing has happened except they came up with Potomac Communities. That ment tear down all the trees along Rt. One and building houses,houses,houses.
    When it started out it was to improve and upgrade Rt. One. BUT IT NEVER HAPPENED IN THE SECTIONS THAT NEEDED IT. I and others went to those meetings but the BIG GUYS with the money(DEVELOPERS) put these plans out there and some people were so gullible.Some of us asked for the junky places to go,put in some trees. Change the frontage on Marumsco Plaza.Make it look better and business will come back.
    But instead we get these Supervisors who think they are going to really do something different and its all pie in the sky.

    The map on page 7 and 8 is not even correct!!!The Village is off of Occoquan Rd. on Hylton Ave. and doesn’t come near Rt. One. But Frank wouldn’t know as he has not learned where his district is!!!

    He needs to get those day laborers off of the street corners. They are a big distraction to any decent business. I hope when the Shooters open up thse hang arounds will get scared and go else where such as to their Homes in another Country.

    Principi is actually very dumb and needs to learn alot,but he won’t. He’s in LALA LAND like Barg.

  2. cdubbs said on 30 Dec 2008 at 3:58 am:
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    This piece struck an oddly familiar chord with me. I was coming home from an out of state visit 2 weeks ago, driving south on I95 and I got off on exit 160b going towards Old bridge road on 123. I rarely get off here, opting usually to go further south to the PW parkway exit.

    I was unpleasantly surprised at all the trash along the exit ramp and roadsides. And the graffiti (gang related?) all over the sound barriers. I have lived in Woodbridge since 1990 and I was suddenly ashamed of how run down my hometown looked. I do not know if I would have considered living here back then had it looked like this. The things I do remember were well cared for roadways, trees and flowers in the medians, and buildings and properties keep neat and tidy.

    Seems to me that the Charette crowd just needs to get back to the basics of picking up litter and painting over graffiti.

  3. TedKennedysSwimInstructor said on 30 Dec 2008 at 7:38 am:
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    Frank Principi’s “charette” mentor is Arlington County Board Member Chris Zimmerman and the rest of the Marxist members of that all Democrat junta.

    Indeed, they used the charette scam as the foundation to building the Arlington sites Mr. Greg cited previously.

    Is a smear concept to attain manufactured community buy-in.

    Remember, affordable housing means more Democrat voters.

  4. Here we are! said on 30 Dec 2008 at 12:34 pm:
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    cdubbs and TedKennedysSwimInstructor You are exactly Right. We told Barg years ago clean up whats there. Get rid of the junk. As I remember what the people were saying is what they are saying now,but thats not what is reported.It’s all these fancy improvements that will never come to be.
    They brag about 200 individual citizens were at this charette,but I’d like to see the list?? It appears to be just like the one 10 years ago and that was a farse from the word go.

    I can name names that was there and they did not want to improve their site. One Garber had the biggest mess on Rt. One near Gordon Blvd. He moved alot of it to Minnieville Rd. and proceeds to make a mess over there.
    As I see all the commercial,shopping centers go up along all the new roads that were widen such as Hoadley,Dale Blvd. to Hoadley, Ridgefield Rd. and on and on, I wonder what will be the next blighted area like Rt. One?

    Will our Supervisors ever learn anything??? Doubt It!

  5. Here we are! said on 30 Dec 2008 at 12:34 pm:
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    cdubbs and TedKennedysSwimInstructor You are exactly Right. We told Barg years ago clean up whats there. Get rid of the junk. As I remember what the people were saying is what they are saying now,but thats not what is reported.It’s all these fancy improvements that will never come to be.
    They brag about 200 individual citizens were at this charette,but I’d like to see the list?? It appears to be just like the one 10 years ago and that was a farse from the word go.

    I can name names that was there and they did not want to improve their site. One Garber had the biggest mess on Rt. One near Gordon Blvd. He moved alot of it to Minnieville Rd. and proceeds to make a mess over there.
    As I see all the commercial,shopping centers go up along all the new roads that were widen such as Hoadley,Dale Blvd. to Hoadley, Ridgefield Rd. and on and on, I wonder what will be the next blighted area like Rt. One?

    Will our Supervisors ever learn anything??? Doubt It!

  6. Casanova Frankenstein said on 30 Dec 2008 at 12:43 pm:
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    PWC has a very handy tool at its disposal for community renewal of North Woodbridge. It is called a “flame thrower.”

  7. Anonymous said on 30 Dec 2008 at 1:01 pm:
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    North Woodbridge will have a statue of HILDUH in every green area to remind everyone how she single handedly turned Woodbridge into what it it is now.

  8. Johnson said on 30 Dec 2008 at 1:52 pm:
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    Perhaps someone could post directions in spanish to New Orleans?

    http://worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=84873

  9. me-n-u said on 30 Dec 2008 at 2:16 pm:
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    Look at who at the developers that gave Principi contributions.
    Contributions Reported by Principi Committees

    From 2008 2007 through 2008 2007

    Amount Name Location
    $2,500 Nova Building Industry Assn Chantilly
    $2,500 Gary D Rappaport Vienna
    $2,500 Utah Street LLC Alexandria
    $1,500 John S Groupe, IV Alexandria
    $1,500 Jefferson Plaza Manassas
    $1,000 John T “Til” Hazel, Jr Manassas
    $1,000 IDI Management Corp Arlington
    $1,000 National Capitol Land & Development Corp Woodbridge
    $800 Haymarket Center Village LLC Manassas
    $715 Donatala Pupuseria Woodbridge
    $500 RMJ Development Group LLC McLean
    $500 Barbara Siegel Lawrence, NY
    $400 Haymarket Center 38 LLC Manassas
    $400 Eugene I Siegel Manassas
    $200 Gerald R Aronson Palm Beach Gardens, FL
    $200 Castillo-Sorto Inc Woodbridge
    $200 Phyllis Greenblum Silver Spring, MD
    $200 TE Goodiel & Associates Oakton
    $-14,929 Crisis Partners International LLC Woodbridge

  10. more from vpap said on 30 Dec 2008 at 4:24 pm:
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    What about these numbers, and coming from a candidate that claims to be concerned about smart growth?

    Donations from Real Estate/Construction Reported by Stewart Committees

    From 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 through 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 (select all years )

    Amount Occupation
    $250 Appraisers/Auctioneers
    $1,000 Building Materials/Supplies
    $4,200 Building Trades/Subcontractors
    $1,500 Cement/Concrete/Asphalt
    $4,500 Commercial Real Estate
    $2,690 Engineers/Engineering Firms
    $6,450 General Contractors
    $9,700 Highway Contractors
    $10,000 Homebuilders
    $1,500 Land-Use Attorney/Consultants
    $2,500 Miscellaneous Construction
    $1,000 Mortgage Lenders
    $15,000 Real Estate Developers
    $1,650 Realtors
    $5,000 Rental/Property Management
    $3,000 Title Companies/Settlement Agencies

  11. Dave in PWC said on 30 Dec 2008 at 5:01 pm:
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    I would check and see if the Pupuseria is in fact owned by a legal resident. If not then he needs to give that money back like Obamarama gave back his Aumt’s contribution…

    Speaking of which, has ICE nabbed her yet?

  12. Anonymous said on 30 Dec 2008 at 6:03 pm:
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    Dave in PWC said on 30 Dec 2008 at 5:01 pm: Flag comment
    Speaking of which, has ICE nabbed her yet?

    Naw! She’s first on the list for Obamarama’s amnesty!

  13. fed up said on 30 Dec 2008 at 8:42 pm:
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    She’ll probably move into the White House along with grandma and the rest of the family.

  14. americangal4ever said on 31 Dec 2008 at 12:00 am:
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    Wanted to pass this on to you and have you all go and vote we are losing in votes to Pass the dream act. These are the times we have to stick together.
    we need immediate online votes for the suggestion to the Obama transition team titled, “Enforce Our Immigration Laws”

    You will have to create an account to vote, but please proceed to the following link and vote for “Enforce Our Existing Immigration Laws”

    http://www.change.org/ideas/view/enforce_our_immigration_laws

    You vote by creating an account, signing in and clicking on the vote totals box to the left of the post title.

    After you have registered your vote, you can circulate this poll to others by using this e-mail or the e-mail friends feature.

    We are asking you to vote for this post because the suggestions that get the top three vote totals move on to the second round.

    Currently, the pro-amnesty people are winning.

    You can see the latest scores by selecting “Browse Ideas By Cause” on the right and selecting immigration.

    At the time of this email

    1. ” Pass the DREAM Act Now!” is in first place with 1,648 votes
    2. “Equal Immigration Rights for same sex binational couples” is in position 2 with 670 votes
    3. “Provide relief for families of immigrants” with 525 votes
    4. “Stop the Raids” 446
    5. “Enforce Our Existing Immigration Laws” 384 votes

    Please vote for “Enforce Our Existing Immigration Laws” and get as many others to do so quickly as you can.

    All allied groups are encouraged to notify their e-mail lists of supporters about this effort.

    Activists can further assist by posting comments after voting expressing why Amnesty is a bad idea and enforcement is a good idea.

    Thank you for the help.
    I did my part and voted

  15. chicko said on 31 Dec 2008 at 11:47 am:
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    what I find interesting about principi is that he regularly corresponds with others who are not even his constituents yet at last count I have e-mailed him about 12 times and not one response and I am his constituent

    Last time I checked haymarket was not his district and he regularly communicates via e-mail with Alanna and Elena according to FOIA. Wonder if they are regular contributors to his cause? I’m curious what the connection is? Inquiring minds want to know.

  16. Anonymous said on 31 Dec 2008 at 2:04 pm:
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    Manassas paper today had news of a prostitution bust yesterday in Woodbridge. Bust was at the Holiday Inn near Potomic mills. Article said another prostitution bust was made in Woodbridge 2 months ago. Business must be good in that area. Put in a few more “hotels” there.

    http://www.insidenova.com/isn/news/crime/article/two_charged_for_prostitution_at_woodbridge_hotel/27020/

  17. Joe H said on 31 Dec 2008 at 4:37 pm:
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    Hey people we love our low taxes do not we. WE get what we pay for . The republicans down in richmond are not going to pony up money to clean our highways. Remember LOW TAXES!!!!!! Until we subdivision dwellers realize that what we want cost money in taxes, we will keep falling for the line of the big money who do not want an increase in their dominion vally home of 1.5 mill in their gated community. Instead we get shitty services from the county in quality of life issues and are forced to pony up for some damn wine and cheese hylton center to make the county more respectable!! Remember you guys voted for the nut who will spend your tax money on an illegal alien in jail for a drunk in public at 70 grand a year while the shopping carts trash and neglected properties go un enforced due to the mantra of low taxes. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. Look at fairfax and arlington. At least they deal with the issue and do not blame it on illegal aliens. What a red herring.

  18. Benton said on 31 Dec 2008 at 10:16 pm:
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    Joe H - I think I agree with you. PWC has offered itself up through plunging tax rates to NOVA as the regional ghetto. Hey, come here, we are the most affordable place to live!!!!! Come all you freeloaders with your WIC checks and find low rents, section 8 and the cheapest place around to live. High percent of non owner occupied homes, run down homes, forclosed homes. Get ‘em cheap and pay the lowest taxes in Northern VA.

    Seriously, it’s one thing to lower taxes it’s another to not be relative to what surrounds you. We are, correction, have attracted the lowest of the low……

    I am all for lower taxes but…….. not the lowest. Guess what’s flooding our schools - AND THEY ARE LEGAL!!!

    Guess I am in the minority - in several ways.

  19. Citizen12 said on 1 Jan 2009 at 2:23 pm:
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    What low taxes are people talking about. After being in PWC for almost 20 yrs I don’t see it. Moved from fairfax and our water rates trippled, fire and rescue are volunteer, we pay for trash pick up and while property values were lower our tax rate was higher. Looks like they still are.

    N. Va Sees 2009 New Property Tax Rates

    Real estate (or property) tax is based on per $100 of assessed value (not resale value).

    City of Alexandria $0.845 per $100 of assessed value
    Arlington County $0.848
    Fairfax County $0.92
    City of Falls Church $1.03
    Loudoun County $1.14
    Prince William County $0.97
    Town of Clifton $0.92
    Town of Herndon $1.16
    City of Fairfax $0.79
    Manassas Park $1.27
    City of Manassas $$1.115
    Town of Vienna $1.1291

    From: http://www.metrodcliving.com/urbantrekker/2008/08/2009-n-va-new-p.html

  20. Benton said on 1 Jan 2009 at 4:47 pm:
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    Look at the tax bill not the rate.

    PWC is ON AVERAGE $1,100 lower than surrounding jurisdictions. Mr. Stewart focused on the bill to the citizen last year for this reason. He rarely addresses the rate any more -

  21. Citizen12 said on 1 Jan 2009 at 9:38 pm:
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    So if I understand this correctly, by paying more taxes this will somehow make all the illegal and legal rift raft leave…or at least they will stop stealing shopping carts and trashing up the place?

    I will agree that housing an illegal alien in our jail at $70K a year is a bit excessive. Seems you could correct that travesty of justice with about $3 worth of rope and a one way bus ticket.

  22. freedom said on 1 Jan 2009 at 10:04 pm:
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    No, anonymous….Obama’s Aunt is not first on his amnesty list, she’s second…HE’S FIRST!

  23. Benton said on 2 Jan 2009 at 5:06 pm:
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    If it cost more to live here or at least somewhat relative to surrounding areas, we wouldn’t get the low lifes - legal or not. Think that is a pretty fair statement. Stafford is delighted they are not moving their way, PWC is low enough to keep them.

    PWC is really trashing up fast. Really fast. Really really fast!!

    Many of the people I know told Mr. Stewart and other BOCS members that they would gladly pay $12 bucks a month more for a higher standard of service and to keep the trash moving south or west.

    My only point. Don’t think PWC is going to solve the illegal issue one way or another by itself. Just concerned about what’s coming here.

  24. Citizen12 said on 2 Jan 2009 at 6:19 pm:
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    Benton,
    Point well taken. I agree, many thought we were economically insulated from the type of residential decline we saw in other areas throughout the region.

    Those of us who worked our way up the housing market “the old fashioned way” saw the no-doc - interest only loan for what it was and knew what was coming. I don’t feel it was the housing pricing as much as the crooked lending that fueled it.

    Illegal has its own ball of problems on its own and merely contributes to the trashing problem. Once the illegal problem is corrected, we will still have the aftermath of the recent “cheap money” housing boom to deal with.

    I remember sections of the region all too well 30 plus years ago, many residents, owners and renters alike, had not a clue on how to take care of a small town house and the yard back then. Some things never change.

  25. Benton said on 2 Jan 2009 at 8:14 pm:
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    My husband moved into Marumsco Hills when he was six. His parent could not afford (1960) the extra $150 to make the basement ceiling a few feet higher. My father in law was a teacher. He moved here because he could afford a house, got his family out of coal mines as a future and was willing to pay extra to provide a good life for his family. He always said, the thing about taxes was when you don’t have to pay them it’s a bad thing.

    The housing market aside, the BOCS cut the tax rate by half in too fast a period. We would not make those changes in our personal budgets so why do it to taxpayers? I am not a proponent for higher taxes by any means. But I don’t want the value of my home further decreased because of fewer owner occupied ghetto building neighborhoods. I do think the County provides excellant services and I am trying to figure out what I think is not necessary that is worth $90Million. The county’s revenue budget is just under $500k - after the split with the schools. That is 20% of the county gone. You can comment about travel and all the other typical “pork” comments but 78-82% of the county’s budget is salary. Of that almost 50% is public safety.

    $12 a month is chump change if you can afford to eat out once a month. One cent on the tax dollar used to be worth $5.75M. Now, it’s about $3.4M. Thank you for working through this and seeing my point.

    You get what you pay for is very true. Very.

    Did I go on too long?? I am just very disappointed in being the ‘practice ground’ for some politicians who don’t care about PWC for longer than then the next 30 minutes. I have a very negative outlook for PWC’s economic development. We will have to struggle to regain the status of middle class.

  26. Slick said on 2 Jan 2009 at 11:57 pm:
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    The shear stupidity on this board has become breathtaking of late. The imbecilic notion that illegals are sitting around crunching numbers on their computers to see which jurisdiction has the lowest property tax is beyond laughable. The reason we have the problems we do is 30+ years of democrats running this county and bringing in low income residential development. Now franky wants to turn Woodbridge into Arlington, and guess what one of his main concerns is…”affordable housing” ie more low income units! I guess 5 to 10 thousand new democrat voters in is precinct is just too tempting to pass up.

  27. Concerned in Woodbridge said on 3 Jan 2009 at 12:15 am:
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    Here’s a concept. Frank Principi is a complete moron. He doesn’t care about anything but being re-elected. Woodbridge is a filthy crap-hole and he doesn’t get it. Somehow putting more and more townhouses and condos along Route 1 is supposed to make everything better. Just don’t drive into the county along Route 1 or be one of those pesky “Belmonyt Bay people” who gives a crap what Rt. 1 looks like.

  28. Black Saint said on 3 Jan 2009 at 11:18 am:
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    We really need the infrastructure and construction jobs so we can put the millions of Illegal Aliens back to work, so they can support Mexico, the contractors can charge the tax payers union scale, hire Illegals at slave wages, pocket the profits, and hit the tax payers for both their wages and the billions in cost to educate their spawn, provide medical and welfare. Sounds like the same old scam, reward the invading horde and soak the tax payers! You would think the Politicians would be content with just outsourcing all the jobs that are possible but No they want to bring in Slave labor ( while ignoring Article IV Section IV of our Constitution against invasion, the rule of Law, and their Oath of office) to take the jobs that cannot be outsourced! To add insult to injury they make the American citizens still working pay billions in extra taxes to educate, provide medical, welfare and jail cells for the invading horde taking our jobs and driving down our standard of living! While Robbing, Raping and Killing American citizens at an rate that Ben Laden can only dream about!

    But the Republicans love the slave labor for their Pay Masters in the Chamber of Commerce and business and the Democrats love the millions of Welfare votes. So there is little or no hope for American citizens and the future viability of this nation as we know it. The future is an over populated, Spanish speaking third world Nation that is an Cesspool of Corruption, Crime, Poverty and Misery modeled on Mexico!

  29. Benton said on 3 Jan 2009 at 12:24 pm:
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    I think illegals simply look for the cheapest place to live. Maybe that is simple enough for you to understand, Slick.

  30. HEARTBLEED said on 4 Jan 2009 at 4:53 pm:
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    Great thoughts Benton…..maybe some ofthe other people on here will learn from what you say!!!

  31. Bridget said on 4 Jan 2009 at 8:59 pm:
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    And we all know what the cheapest place to live in is. It’s the place that someone else is paying for:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2157275/posts

  32. ben said on 5 Jan 2009 at 3:58 pm:
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    more from vpap, it took stewart 6 years to accumulate funds from developers and frank one.

  33. fed up said on 5 Jan 2009 at 8:45 pm:
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    Benton and Heartbleed….you are flipping geniuses (NOT)

  34. Benton said on 10 Jan 2009 at 11:07 am:
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    Sorry you can’t understand fed up. Maybe if the roaring in your ears subsides occasionally, you just might realize you don’t know everything!!! Give it a shot. It takes great intelligence to say “I don’t know”. Neanderthals grunt and poke.

    Another lovely product of public schools, I imagine….. sigh.

  35. Bridget said on 11 Jan 2009 at 10:03 pm:
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    Yep. It’s the place that someone else is paying for:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2162915/posts

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