Developer rejuvenates Colonial Beach
Richmond developer Duke Dodson fondly remembers spending summer days as a child at Colonial Beach, a Northern Neck beach town bordering Maryland on the Potomac River. So, when the town listed 12 parcels of land for sale in 2020, he jumped at the opportunity.
“My grandparents went to Colonial Beach back in the day to eat, drink and dance,” Dodson recalls. “It was booming in the ’50s — like a mini-Atlantic City.” Then legal in Maryland, casinos with slot machines were built atop piers in the river, reachable from Colonial Beach. But “laws changed, the casinos closed, and the town struggled a little bit.”
When complete, Dodson Development Group’s $25 million CoBe on the Potomac development will include 35 housing units, restaurants, coworking space and a gourmet shop. Dodson’s development vision persuaded the town to sell him the land for $2.7 million, says Colonial Beach Economic Development Manager Kelly Evko.
“CoBe on the Potomac is giving the town the momentum it needs,” Evko says. “Duke Dodson has been really engaged with our citizens and stakeholders and has family ties here. We’re working together to honor the town’s history and culture while we evolve and grow our tax base.”
The project’s first phase, School Hill Townes, opened in October 2022 with 13 town homes, a putting green and swimming pool. For the second phase, completed in June, Dodson transformed three 100-plus-year-old buildings to accommodate two vacation rental apartments and two commercial tenants: Circa1892 wine and cheese shop, named for Colonial Beach’s origins as a Victorian-era steamboat summer resort town for D.C. residents, and CoBe Workspaces, a coworking space with an old bank vault serving as a conference room.
“Our favorite thing is seeing people enjoy spaces that were once blighted buildings,” says Dodson. “We like [developing] a cluster of projects together that help a neighborhood come back to life.”
CoBe’s third phase, scheduled for an October opening, includes two restaurants, Drift and Muse. Above the restaurants will be Osprey Flats, a community of nine condos named for the town’s prominent bird population. CoBe’s fourth phase calls for a waterfront boutique hotel, but plans aren’t complete.
Partners for CoBe on the Potomac include Richmond-area firms Campfire, Dana Hennesey Designs, Fultz & Singh Architects, Timmons Group, and THS Construction. Dodson estimates the project has created 260 construction jobs and 50 permanent jobs.