Exactly Who Is Carl D. Silver?

We all recognize the name Carl D. Silver; but when we hear it we think of the road: route 3. However, there is quite an interesting history surrounding the fellow, Carl D. Silver. Carl wasn’t born in Fredericksburg, however he did move here at an early age and opened a car sales business downtown. He saw potential with the land surrounding I-95 and transitioned into the real estate game and went on to become a huge developer in the area and one of Virginia’s wealthiest resident’s. Central Park exists because of his successful business. The horrible traffic also exists because of his successful business.

In many newspaper articles, Silver is praised for his humor, kindness, and generosity. Everyone that worked with him felt honored and appreciated Silver’s derive and work ethic. Co-workers didn’t seem to mind Silver’s demanding standards or expectations, even if they had to work an average of 80 hours per week (Freehling). Bill Freehling, a writer for the Free Lance-Star, created a list of memorable elements that Silver incorporated, such as; “your word is your bond”, “outwork your competitors”, “do what you love”, “give back without fanfare”, “treat people well”, “look to the future”, and “be results-driven”. Silver is credited with saving Fredericksburg as it headed towards bankruptcy (Boorstein). Many looked at Silver as a herald bringing in jobs, revitalizing the economy and providing the city with new tax money to put back in the schools and fix the roads (Boorstein). While those principles and community opinions appear to belong to community conscious business-man, not all felt such a loving connection with Silver.

After sliding into such a public spotlight Silver began to feel more opposition. One of the largest complaints residents expressed was over the increased level of traffic that Central Park created. Gone were the days of farm roads rolling through the land. As Silver continued to buy and sell property to large company’s the area continued to grow; attracting more people, more companies and more traffic.

While in many aspects Carl Silver rejuvenated Fredericksburg, it appears as though he was going to quantity over quality. It is true that he brought in lots of businesses and more people and he himself made loads of money off of all his work. On the flip side, he failed to truly ask and incorporate the community in the rejuvenation process. “Although the city wants to be known for its rich Civil War history, today it takes in the second-highest revenue per capita among Virginia jurisdictions for meal and sales taxes — thanks to its malls. The new council members say they are concerned that Fredericksburg is too dependent on retail and dissatisfied with the low-paying jobs provided by stores and restaurants (Boorstein)”. The aftermath of Silver’s ambition is leaving Fredericksburg officials and residents feeling ignored and some what concerned with the direction the Silver has projected Fredericksburg to move towards.

The community felt many positive impacts, however, could there have been even stronger and more sustainable results? This study of Central Park reminds me of the “Brooklyn Matters” film we watched in class. The Central Park situation doesn’t quite fully align with either situation however it entails elements of both. Through analysis it would appear as though the New York case would align closer to the Fredericksburg situation. Ratner, the developer in “Brooklyn Matters”, and Silver do not fall into the same category. Silver had grown up in Fredericksburg, he has started at the bottom and worked his way up. Thus allowing Silver a better insight of the community from the get-go. However, they are similar in the fact that in the end neither fully had the community’s best interest in mind as they planned the new development. In both situations, elected and un-elected officials were kept out of the loop, side stepped, or encouraged to support the new development. While both projects had positive impacts on the respective community neither took the time or initiative to draw in the community’s opinions and really work with them to move in a more sustainable direction. Both were focused on the business/money-making side of it. And in the cases seen in New York and Fredericksburg the impacts were not purely on the immediate community, but rather had a much larger scope. Both could have had much more influential and positive outcomes in terms of quality rather than quantity.

A few differences between Silver and Ratner are present and should be acknowledged. Silver was a businessman through and through and that was where much of his decision making stemmed from. That being said, Silver was a part of many projects around Fredericksburg and Central Park, unlike Ratner who was brought in from outside of town to development one large project. However, he did believe in contributing to the community and contributed much of his money to non-profits as well as land to local organizations.

If Silver had invested half of his time, energy, resources, and money towards initiatives such as PUSH in Buffalo, then the present day Fredericksburg would function and rely upon very different industries and companies than those in Central Park. PUSH worked within a local community and addressed issues that residents were clearly passionate about. Meanwhile, Silver pushed Fredericksburg and surrounding areas away from community values and towards a much larger and nationally tied area. Huge companies were brought in rather than encouraging local, small businesses.

In the end, I would argue that Silver and his company had machine-like qualities without being a complete and operating machine within Fredericksburg. While they pushed for development, and growth through urbanization, they were really taking advantage of a financially successful opportunity. The outcome created urbanization, however that wasn’t completely the intended goal of the Central Park project. Silver benefited a huge amount through his business savvy intelligent and the city ended up benefitting from the tax dollars. The impacts that Central Park is having on its surrounding areas are huge and arguable not as beneficial as they could have been.


Boorstein, Michelle. “Mending Fences Before Building; Fredericksburg Takes Circumspect Approach To Tourism Project.” The Washington Post. January 12, 2003.


Freehling, Bill. Bill Freehling Column. The Free Lance-Star. November, 20, 2011.


Freehling, Bill. “GETTING TO KNOW: Jud Honaker, who heads a Silver Cos. Division.” The Free Lance-Star. October 26, 2013. http://www.lexisnexis.com/lnacui2api/results/docview/docview.do?docLinkInd=true&risb=21_T22715073428&format=GNBFI&sort=RELEVANCE&startDocNo=1&resultsUrlKey=29_T22715071876&cisb=22_T22715073430&treeMax=true&treeWidth=0&csi=411018&docNo=12

Some other interesting articles in relation to Central Park and Carl D. Silver if interested:




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