Ward off Development at Bristoe Station
Local Residents: Consider attending the October 10 Town Hall to learn more about this threat and its potential impacts on the battlefield.
For more than two decades, preservationists have been able to hold up the Bristoe Station Battlefield in Prince William County, Va., as something of a success story. Despite its location in a rapidly urbanizing area facing immense development pressure, the American Battlefield Trust worked with local officials and developers to protect a significant part of the battlefield – which is known to contain burials from both an 1861-62 winter encampment as well as the 1863 battle. In 2003, we presented Centex Homes with our prestigious Preservation Legacy Award in recognition of the firm’s donation of 127 acres to create Bristoe Station Heritage Park.
The battle, fought in October 1863, was a decisive Union victory that crushed a Confederate attempt to advance on the U.S. capital in Washington, D.C. Five Medals of Honor were awarded to Union soldiers for valor in combat at Bristoe Station. However, the site’s Civil War connections go beyond the battle; it was the site of Camp Cook, part of the 1861-1862 Confederate winter encampment, and was a target of Stonewall Jackson during his August 1862 operations against the Orange and Alexander Railroad prior to Second Manassas.
Despite the 309 total acres that the Trust has been able to protect, critical portions of the battlefield remained vulnerable to development. Discussions with an assortment of landowners were ongoing for many years. Tragically, in 2022, an 85-acre property adjacent to Trust-protected land and associated with William Kirkland’s charge against the Union II Corps was sold to the Trammell Crow Company for $54.8 million – a staggering cost of $644,000 per acre. With deep-pocketed development firms able to pay such stratospheric sums, preservation organizations can be entirely priced out of an entire region!
This land is now slated to be joined with an adjacent parcel for a proposed 772,000-square-foot warehouse distribution complex, a facility more than four times the size of the U.S. Capitol! Due to current land use regulations, no county approval is necessary for the project to proceed – although, because of its impact on wetlands and tributaries of Broad Run creek, Section 106 review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is necessary.
USACE review, although only in its preliminary stages, has confirmed what so many of us already knew: Trammell Crow’s “Manassas Logistics Center” project would have a significant adverse impact on historic resources on the battlefield – including significant archaeological resources dating to the encampment and likely hundreds of Civil War-era military burials. Both the National Park Service and Virginia Department of Historic Resources concurred with this assessment. A meeting hosted by USACE is expected this fall.
Despite magnitude of this project, crucial details, such as the anticipated increase in commuter and truck traffic on Route 28, Bristow Road, and other nearby thoroughfares – with its associated air, noise and sound pollution – have not been disclosed in project documentation. Additionally, information regarding viewshed impacts and building heights has not been made available to the public. Extrapolating from elements of an adjacent distribution center project already in process, the full build out will include 175 dock doors for tractor trailers and 1,400 parking spaces for employees and contractors. The lack of transparency surrounding the project has raised further concerns with residents and local officials – and saw Bristoe Station placed on this year’s Preservation Virginia Most Endangered list.
While the Trust is not opposed to sensible development, a project of these dimensions, as we've observed elsewhere, will significantly impact the lives of nearby residents and dramatically alter the landscape of the Bristoe Station Battlefield. We urge the officials to reevaluate the project’s potential consequences.
Whether you are a county resident or a concerned preservationist, please consider signing the appropriate letter, so your opposition to the Manassas Logistics Center project can be considered by decision makers.