Dumfries residents are set to see some big changes in coming years, beginning with a Rosie’s Gaming Emporium where people can bet on slot-like machines. The town is hoping its only the first big change, as they hunt for $70 million needed for widening of U.S. 1.
A huge hurdle is out of the way for Colonial Downs to bring a Rosie’s gaming emporium to Dumfries now that town voters approved a referendum on Nov. 5, with 468 votes supporting a gambling venue in the town and 306 voting against.
Now, Colonial Downs will be working with town officials to identify the best location for its latest Rosie’s — there are existing sites in New Kent County, Vinton, Richmond and Hampton.
The proposed Rosie’s in Dumfries would have 150 slot-like machines, a restaurant and live entertainment. All of the sites include simulcast horse racing, with a restaurant, bar and gift shop. Colonial Downs also held its first day of live racing in New Kent County on Aug. 8.
The company plans to deliver on their commitment to be a strong community partner, said Mark Hubbard, spokesperson for Colonial Downs Group.
Dumfries Mayor Derrick Wood said the company will have to receive a town permit just like any other business. He said a Colonial Downs spokesperson told town officials that the business will open at 10 a.m., so customers won’t add to morning rush hour commuting. In addition, the company’s nightly peak times start at 8 p.m., which shouldn’t affect afternoon commuters.
Wood said there is existing vacant commercial space available where Colonial Downs could open Rosie’s.
Hubbard said “everything is on the table right now,” and added that converting a property would be faster than building a Rosie’s from scratch.
The new business will be a boon for the small town. The locality where a gaming facility is located receives 0.5% of all wagering that is made. Colonial Downs estimates that the town would receive about $640,000 in annual local gaming taxes from the proposed Rosie’s in Dumfries.
Hubbard said the average salary and benefits for employees is $47,000. Jobs include surveillance, security, ambassadors to assist players, bartenders, servers, managers, operations and information technology.
Plus, it will add a new destination spot for the town, the mayor noted.
“People are going to have to stop driving through Dumfries and they’re going to start to have to drive to Dumfries,” Wood said.
U.S. 1 Widening
Construction on the widening project in Dumfries is set to begin in 2023 unless additional funding becomes available sooner.
Despite having funding for design work, property acquisition and utility relocation, the project still needs construction funding, Wood said. Because VDOT will have to purchase land from property owners to expand the highway, many property owners are concerned about how that will affect them.
Still, Wood envisions the town to be able to capitalize on the widening and improve its economic development.
“If Route 1 is backed up then people don’t want to get out of their house,” Wood said. “Route 1 widening project is everything to the town; Main Street, economic development and it gives people the opportunity to get out of their house with no problems.”
In a meeting in late October, the town started seeking resident input on how to revitalize Main Street once the widening project is completed. Wood said residence can also submit comments to PIO@dumfriesva.gov.
Noting that the town’s annual budget is $5 million, Town Manager Keith Rogers said Dumfries can’t issue debt to fund the project. The total project cost is estimated around $120 million to $130 million, he said, meaning the project needs up to $70 million in funding that hasn’t been identified.
The widening project has $51.8 million from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.
The town’s $69 million request for state funding was rejected last year, as other projects scored higher in terms of congestion relief, safety or economic development.
“We’re planning to explore every funding source to get the Route 1 widening project done,” Rogers said. “Fortunately, we’ve been successful through the NVTA, but haven’t had any success from getting any money from the commonwealth.”
The proposed widening project is set to increase capacity on U.S. 1 in Dumfries. Currently, 28,000 vehicles travel through U.S. 1 in Dumfries each day, according to VDOT officials. Once construction is complete, the highway will be able to accommodate 68,000 vehicles daily.
The widening project will also end the current north-south split through Dumfries, putting all traffic on a wider road along the current route used for northbound traffic. The town’s Main Street, which currently carries U.S. 1 traffic southbound, would be converted to a local two-lane road.
The widening project also includes the construction of a 10-foot hike-and-bike path along the southbound side of the new U.S. 1 and a 5-foot sidewalk along the northbound side.
The town has hired consultants to assist the town in updating its comprehensive plan, zoning ordinances and help develop the town’s vision for revitalizing Main Street once the widening project is completed, Rogers said.
The town could lower the speed limit on Main Street, widen sidewalks and add bike lanes to encourage walking and biking, Rogers said. In addition, the town could plan to allow mixed-use developments on Main Street to attract business and residential development alike.
“People want to see arts and entertainment,” Rogers said. “The most prevailing [feedback] is they want it to be walkable and accessible; pretty much the exact opposite of what it’s like when you live off of a major highway.”