— If it seems like the construction on Washington St. can’t end soon enough, you’ll be happy to know that the Virginia Department of Transportation expects it will all be completed by early November.
“Part of the anxiety as I know from many years of construction and particularly in small communities where businesses are affected is the unknown,” said VDOT’s Michael Gleasman at the May 10 Biz Buzz, hosted by Middleburg Academy and Back Street Catering. “To be blunt, in construction we have a big set of plans with tens of thousands of details and we have traffic counts and designs and so forth, but the soft impacts of construction are not always realized.”
But Gleasman said they’ve learned from earlier missteps and are determined to finish the project on-time and on-budget. The $4.1 million project is expected to help calm traffic and improve pedestrian access and safety along Middleburg’s main corridor, and you can already see some of the progress underway at the west end of town, with new bricked-in crosswalks that make it easier for pedestrians to reach key institutions like the post office, Middleburg Common Grounds and the National Sporting Library & Museum.
Next up: Phase 2 of the project, which will tackle Washington St. between Pendleton and Madison streets. As construction crews work on this block, the main entrance to Safeway and access to Pendleton St. from Washington St. will be closed, but you will still be able to access all businesses on Pendleton and Safeway from Marshall St.
Despite the inconvenience and mess of the construction, MBPA President Punkin Lee noted that businesses need to continue to do their best to put their best face forward. “You’ve got to keep positive, and it’ll all be over and we’ll look beautiful when it’s done,” said MBPA President Punkin Lee.
As the construction project moves forward, the Town of Middleburg is about to embark on a promotional campaign to drive shoppers to town and is requesting input from the town’s retail merchants and other event sites in town. Those interested should attend a marketing brainstorming meeting at the Town Office on May 18 at 8:30 a.m. Please come to the meeting prepared with any in-store promotions or public events you may have planned for the next 8 months to help the town coordinate town-wide themes and marketing.One big promotional project already underway is the placement of two posters advertising Middleburg at the Beijing airport, the world’s second-busiest airport, with almost 90 million passengers last year. The advertisements are part of a “sister airport” agreement between the Dulles and Beijing airports spearheaded by the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development and Visit Loudoun. Chinese representatives chose 6 advertisements promoting Loudoun County to be displayed at the airport, including the two from Middleburg, which feature shoppers along Washington St. and the Middleburg Hunt.
Also on the promotional front, Middleburg continues to receive accolades in the press, most recently finishing at No. 8 on USA Today’s list of best small town weekend escapes. Additionally, Virginia.org’s travel blog named Salamander Resort & Spa‘s Harrimans as a top culinary experience and the Loudouner recently featured articles on Shakespeare in the ‘Burg founder Genie Ford, Popcorn Monkey, the National Sporting Library & Museum and Salamander chef Chris Edwards.
In business news, Lee noted that Salamander’s Reggie Cooper was recently elected to serve on the board of Visit Loudoun and there are a couple of new businesses opening in town: the newly revamped Aililoo & Son Rug Gallery, which opens this month, and the Sidesaddle Café and Farm Shop, which will be run by the Fields of Athenry and is scheduled to open this summer.
Also announced at the meeting: The MBPA board has adopted the changes to the association’s by-laws and will send the revised by-laws to the State Corporation Commission. You can read the revised bylaws here.
So far this year, MBPA has 104 members on its rolls, including 13 new members. The next Biz Buzz will be held June 14 at Middleburg Millwork from 5:30-7:30 pm. Hope to see you there!
Other upcoming events of note include: