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Tribe Square ushers in new era of student-oriented businesses

  • Tribe Square
    Tribe Square  Tribe Square, which was dedicated Oct. 20, has prompted an increase in student-geared businesses in the Williamsburg area.  Photo by Megan Shearin
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Tribe Square, which was dedicated Oct. 20, has prompted an increase in student-geared businesses in the Williamsburg area, according to William & Mary officials.

“This is just what we hoped for when we set out to increase opportunities for students near the campus,” said Jim Golden, vice president for strategic initiatives at the College.  “Fortunately, City officials had a similar vision, and we’ve benefitted from their strong support.”

College officials have been advocating for more student-focused businesses within walking distance of the campus for more than five years. The William & Mary Real Estate Foundation was founded in 2006 to create such a destination, and the result was Tribe Square.

The new combined living and dining facility, located on Richmond Road, opened to residents at the beginning of the semester. The first of four dining establishments planned for the location, The Crust, opened this week.
Ground was broken at Tribe Square in June 2010. Since then, several new businesses focusing on students have been planned or opened.

“In my opinion, the reason they came was that they saw that there was a building that could be successful in a down economy in that location,” said Nancy Buchanan, executive director of the William & Mary Real Estate Foundation. “These people had all along wanted to do something, but they just needed to see that it would be successful.”

Earlier this year, Qdoba and Dominos opened at City Green in the city’s new arts district, and a new bakery and sandwich shop, called the Flaky Bakers, opened on Bacon Street. Additionally, the owners of Paul’s Deli bought and refurbished the College Delly.

Next year, the Brickhouse Tavern, which will be located to the right of Paul’s Deli, is scheduled to open. The building that will house the tavern will total 7,000 square feet, and the restaurant will only take up half of that space. The other half is available for lease.

Mama Mia’s, a restaurant on Prince George Street, has been demolished, and a new building to  include 10,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor and seven apartments on the second floor will take its place.

Williamsburg Mayor Clyde Haulman praised Tribe Square as a “terrific town-gown project that not only answers specific student requests for late-night dining options but also provides new restaurants that the entire community will support and enjoy.”

“It is not just student oriented retail -- it is community oriented retail,” he said. “The City is thrilled to assist with redevelopment projects like this. For Tribe Square, specific assistance from the City included two EDA demolition grants and serving as the conduit for tax exempt bonds to finance the project. We welcome Tribe Square to our downtown and look forward to working with the Real Estate Foundation on future projects.”