After many false starts, new life seems to be coming to Aquia Town Center.

Ramco–Gershenson Properties Trust has closed on its deal to sell the 25-acre center in northern Stafford County to Baltimore-based Mosaic Realty Partners for $6.15 million.

“It’s been a long time coming to finally reach this point and it looks like it is almost a certain thing at this point. Everyone I know is ecstatic that we are getting a new town center with a new grocery store and for it to become a vibrant shopping center,” said Griffis–Widewater Supervisor Jack Cavalier, who was involved in the discussions.

The deal got done thanks in large part to $6.25 million in tax incentives from Stafford County.

Mosaic still plans to start construction on its $40 million grocery-anchored center that includes 160,000 square feet of commercial space by fall 2016.

Mosaic hopes to bring in a supermarket that isn’t operating anywhere else in Stafford and create a public park in the middle of the center surrounded by 30 shops and eateries. An office building already on the site and owned by Ramco will remain.

Mosaic principal Isaac Pretter wouldn’t comment on which grocery store is coming to the center, but sources said Harris Teeter is expected to sign on. Officials said discussions with the existing Regal Aquia 10 movie theater are ongoing.

Pretter said the supermarket is driving the site plans; other pieces of the project will be put together after that part of the development is secured.

Meanwhile, Franklin Johnston Group out of Virginia Beach has broken ground on seven apartment buildings with 256 units plus a clubhouse. The group has said it hopes to finish building by the end of 2016.

Aquia District Supervisor Paul Milde, who was also involved in discussions, has called it Stafford’s first work–live–shop community.

Pretter said the estimated timeline for the project is still on track. The first tenants are projected move in toward the end of next year or beginning of 2017.

The tax incentives will kick in after the tenants move in and the center’s businesses start generating revenue.

The incentive package returns 75 percent of the prior year’s tax revenue generated by businesses in the center to Mosaic. The return will stop once Mosaic receives a total of $6.25 million, after which the county will keep all the tax revenue generated by the project each year—which officials estimate to be $1.5 million.

County leaders felt the incentive package, the first of its kind in Stafford, was necessary to jump-start the long-languishing center.

Once a popular shopping destination after it was built in the mid-1990s, the center struggled once newer storefronts opened along Garrisonville Road in the early 2000s. Plans in 2007 to revive it faltered in the midst of the Great Recession, leaving a partially demolished site that has become an eyesore for many Stafford residents.

But Pretter was confident that Mosaic’s plans to revive the site will continue to move forward.

Mosaic’s site plans haven’t yet received county approval, but Pretter said everything is moving along nicely.

“We appreciate their [Stafford’s] help and their desire to see it built and we’re excited for what we plan to bring to the county. We think it will be a very exciting development,” Pretter said.

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