After 14 years as ‘eyesore’, Loudoun Co. could tear down half-built hotel along U.S. 50

Half-finished Sheraton hotel off Route 50 in Loudoun County. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
The metal skeleton of a half-finished hotel has stood untouched for 14 years along U.S. 50 in quickly-developing Loudoun County, Virginia — now, the county is exploring ways to demolish the vacant building.

The site plan for Sheraton Dulles South at East Gate called for a 161,489 square foot hotel with 243 rooms and a banquet hall to be located at 25450 Lizzio Center Drive, in the East Gate community of South Riding.

“Those plans came to a grinding halt during the Great Recession in the 2008 time frame,” said Matt Letourneau, Dulles Supervisor with the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. “At that point the building had a steel structure, a little work inside, but the majority of it was unfinished.”

The property fell into foreclosure and was sold twice. Efforts to find a new hotel chain stalled.

“Then COVID hit, and that really dried up the hospitality market and the ability to get financing, and so that fell through,” said Letourneau.

Today, what was once an active construction site sits locked behind chain link fence, within sight of Route 50, even as other homes and business continue to be built in the community. Weeds and garbage sully what was in the process of becoming a welcoming business.

“The site has been broken into, there’s been vandalism. It’s become a hangout place for teenagers to go and do things they probably shouldn’t be doing,” said Letourneau.

On Sept. 13, the Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing for residents and the current property owner to discuss the option of demolishing the structure, under the county’s blight ordinance.

“It would be at our expense, however, we’d be billing the property owner for the cost that the county incurred,” said Letourneau. “If the property owner does not pay, then we will be placing a lien on the property.”

Letourneau said the property poses a safety hazard for county sheriff’s deputies and firefighters, who might have to respond to incidents in and around the structure. “We don’t know how structurally sound it is, at this point.”

‘A blight on the community’

Letourneau said he has been open to other types of development along the main corridor in the southern part of the county. Over the years, there’s been discussion of an apartment building, as well as mixed use housing.

“A lot of what the public doesn’t see is how much of this is dictated by what can get financed,” said Letourneau. “The private sector financial markets are really determining what’s a viable product to build.”

According to Letourneau, the property is not zoned to be a data center.

“So, unless there was a change in the zoning, which the board would be asked to approve, and I can tell you right now I would not approve, it won’t be a data center,” he said.

With a new Silver Diner, and other restaurants and businesses being built a few blocks down Route 50, Letourneau said it’s finally time for the half-finished structure to come down.

“It’s been there a long time, and it really is a blight on the community, and it’s unfortunately quite noticeable. We’re trying to make it a welcoming place, that people are proud to live in, and businesses want to locate. It’s such an eyesore, and a safety hazard, and it just kind of holds us back,” Letourneau said.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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