RUSH RIVER COMMONS WILL INVITE THE RAPPAHANNOCK COMMUNITY AND VISITORS TO FIND A PLACE OF COMMON GROUND. NEW OUTDOOR PROGRAMS AND BUILDINGS WILL BE CAREFULLY INTEGRATED WITHIN THE LANDSCAPE, AROUND THE RESTORED WETLANDS. THE SITE WILL SUPPORT MULTIPLE USES, FOSTERING ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY, INCLUSIVE HOUSING, LIFE-LONG LEARNING, AND A CELEBRATION OF LOCAL HISTORY AND TRADITION.

The Land

A nine-acre site has been purchased and is envisioned to be a community resource called the Rush River Commons.

The Vision

A new community space surrounding restored wetlands and fostering Rappahannock-grown programs and services.

The History

More than half a century ago, the Black Kettle Motel and Restaurant welcomed visitors to Rappahannock.

THE LAND

The RUSH RIVER COMMONS PROPERTY is situated on nine acres on the edge of the town of Washington, VA.

Formerly the site of the old Black Kettle Motel and Restaurant, the property lies across Leggett Lane from the new Washington Post Office, and across Lee Highway from the Rappahannock Park. In 2019 Chuck Akre purchased the property, intending to preserve the natural wetlands and create a space to benefit the local community as well as be a tourism destination.

Featuring wetlands, streams, and mountain vistas, Rush River Commons is within walking distance to Washington restaurants, galleries, theatre, and county services.

“Of the streams and wetlands, our intention is to make an asset of this site… it’ll be park-like with walking bridges over it.” – Chuck Akre, creator of the Rush River Commons

The wetlands encompass more than 30% of the property, and a major focus of the project is to restore the existing wetlands, including removing invasive vegetation and planting native beneficial species.

The Rush River Commons property as it is today. The black line denotes the boundary between the town and county.

Existing wetland areas will be restored with native plants.

Illustration of vegetation zones on the property.

Location of Rush River Commons circled in red.

THE VISION

RUSH RIVER COMMONS: a Rappahannock County resource for residents and destination for visitors.

Rush River Commons also envisions a community center, office space for non-profits, and affordable rental housing – all linked by walkways over the property’s wetlands and streams.

The Rappahannock Food Pantry will anchor the project in a new modern facility, centrally-located with convenient access.  The location will be provided at essentially no cost to the Food Pantry.

“Our goal is to create a facility for the community, but not at the community’s expense.” – Chuck Akre

Other potential uses may include an entertainment center, amphitheater, outdoor eating and gathering areas, educational facilities such as a “maker space”* and space for pop-up activities.

*A maker space is  a collaborative work space inside a school, library or separate public/private facility for making, learning, exploring and sharing that uses high tech to no tech tools.

Concept aerial view of Rush River Commons

Concept / preliminary illustrations of walkways

Concept / preliminary illustration of outdoor amphitheater

The proposed plan is comprised of a commercial “community cluster” at the intersection of Warren Avenue and Leggett Lane, and a “residential cluster” to the south, along Leggett Lane. The commercial cluster includes office space with a small retail component and the new home of the Rappahannock Food Pantry. A plaza area connects the two. Parking for the two buildings will be shared and an appropriate number of handicap parking spaces will be provided.

In the residential cluster three structures are planned around a central green park space. Units will be a combination of townhome style structures and stacked flats.

Community cluster (right) and residential cluster (left).

Community cluster perspective illustration

HISTORY

More than half a century ago, the BLACK KETTLE MOTEL AND RESTAURANT welcomed visitors to Washington and Rappahannock.

According to a June 12, 1983 article in the New York Times, the Black Kettle Motel was open Tuesday – Sunday with weekend prices of $40 for double occupancy room. Meals were served to guests, including chicken dinners for $5.95 and prime rib for $11.95. Beer and wine were also available.

In the 1950’s it was known as the Lake Manahoac Motel:

“The interior was built with knotty pine and the rooms featured “Electromode Heat” for chilly nights.  Cross-ventilation was provided for relief from the summer heat.  Guests at the motel were given fishing privileges in the stocked lake and mountain stream. Reservations could be made by dialing 2943.”

From the book Shenandoah: Its National Park and Neighbors by Anne Frederick

New York Times article on Washington, VA – June 12, 1983

Prior to becoming the Black Kettle, the motel was named Lake Manohoac Motel

Photo of the Black Kettle Motel ca. 1988

“…from what I have learned it is apparent to me that the people behind this possible project have the best interests in mind for the citizens of Washington and Rappahannock County alike.”

“Our goal is to create a facility for the community, but not at the community’s expense.”

“We’re trying to create this campus of uses that creates a common ground between different folks in the community. ”

“Of the streams and wetlands, our intention is to make an asset of this site… it’ll be park-like with walking bridges over it.”

Latest News

Washington forcefully rejects Rappahannock Supervisors attempts at gaining concessions in exchange for boundary change support

Rappahannock Supervisors cancel boundary change review meeting due to lack of quorum

Rappahannock Food Pantry holding fundraising dinner against backdrop of long-planned relocation

Town authorizes attorney to meet with Rush River, county to talk boundary change terms

Boundary change stumbling block cleared?

Is a county-town land swap realistic?

Rappahannock County Supervisors: No additional housing in Rush River Commons expansion

Brainstorming the Town’s future

In letter, Rappahannock Supervisors seek boundary change details and ‘concessions’ from Town

Slowing pace of boundary change discussions, Rappahannock Supervisors to request further details from Town

Washington Town Council advances Rush River Commons boundary change, asking Rappahannock Supervisors to join them

Town Council approves Rush River Commons

Rush River Commons proposes residential, commercial buildings — will Washington approve?

CONTACT & COMMENTS

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