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Massive development slated for Henrico

David Larter May 9, 2012 16


A local developer has big plans for a stretch of farmland north of Short Pump.

Robert Babcock, 52, recently sold 30 acres off the North Gayton Road extension to the Breeden Company for $8.72 million. Breeden will use that land for a 420-apartment project. But that is only a slice of a larger development that will stretch from Gayton to Pouncey Tract Road on the north side of Interstate 64.

Babcock is planning 180 single-family homes, 60,000 square feet of office space, a 4,600-foot, four-lane road extension connecting North Gayton Road and Pouncey Tract Road, and a six-acre park on 136 acres. He’s calling the project Bacova.

Babcock received rezoning approval in December from Henrico County and expects to begin construction of the connecting road in 2013. He said he hopes to have the full development completed by 2017.

Babcock said the development made good sense because of the demand in Western Henrico.

“We see it driven by continued demand for housing in the northwest quadrant,” he said. “It’s also across the street of from a planned new high school and next to a new 70-acre park the size of Deep Run. There are a lot of reasons why this makes sense.”

Before starting his own company in 2007, Babcock was president of HHHunt’s homes division. In 2008, he began laying out plans for Bacova.

“You can’t have a true appreciation of the real estate crash unless you are in the business,” Babcock said. “I had to keep telling myself, ‘Real estate won’t be in the tank forever.’”

Babcock pieced together the project by buying land from seven different owners. One of the owners, Lawrence Liesfeld, is developing his tract separately but is part of the larger Bacova development.

Financing the project wasn’t easy, Babcock said.

“There is no bank involved in the project. It’s all private equity investors and my own personal investment.” he said. “I scoured the Richmond market for investors for two years, but nobody wanted to go in on it. Maybe it’s a reflection on me or maybe it’s that they didn’t trust in the market or the recovery.”

Eventually, as plans began to come together, Babcock found an investor in Texas, a long-time friend. Babcock declined to name the investor.

Babcock said the project would ultimately cost more than $100 million between construction and road improvements.

Babcock said he has worked extensively with Henrico County to get things in line with what the country’s requests.

“Some others in the development community might think I agreed to too many proffers, but they want to make sure it’s quality,” Babcock said. “I think they see this as a gateway to further development.”

The conditions Babcock agreed to include:

• No vinyl siding
• A 2,500-square-foot pool and clubhouse
• 4.5 miles of sidewalks
• A path along the road extension for pedestrians and bikers

The first construction on the site will be the Breeden Company’s apartments this summer.


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  1. jack kay May 9, 2012 at 7:46 am - Reply

    Good to see the jobs, the construction, the tax base…BUT…have you tried driving out there? OMG…who…why live there…it really sux! Thank God for Montpelier!!!

  2. james May 9, 2012 at 9:00 am - Reply

    It’s telling that in Henrico County, where the market has been seeing signs of life again for a year, no bank would get involved. They can’t. The federal government won’t let them. This project is contrary to everything our federal government today wants. If Babcock wanted to build this near Rocketts Landing or in The Fan he’d have more banks than he could count wanting in. But since it’s the evil suburbs, most banks have been warned off by the US Treasury Department.

    • Myinnermind May 9, 2012 at 10:56 am - Reply

      It is sad to see you in such confusion. Where did you get that idea about suburbs??? All of the government programs, from the local supervisors, on up to tthe POTUS are in favor of suburban development. The entire housing finance industry is structured on single family, suburban homes, all with a Federal tax break.

      Yes, it would be nice to see more dense growth, which is much more pleasant, but that is just not where the politics have been for generations.

  3. Jill May 9, 2012 at 9:13 am - Reply

    i laugh every time someone complains about the “traffic” in short pump. i have more of a problem driving down midlothian turnpike or hull street (with their sorry excuses for dining and shopping) during “rush hour”. those of us that appreciate the retail and restaurants in the short pump area actually have no problem dealing with a couple red lights…. so bring it on!

  4. Steve May 9, 2012 at 10:04 am - Reply

    I’m looking to buy a new house so get a move on will ya!!!

  5. William May 9, 2012 at 10:50 am - Reply

    To James: Your comment RE: what the federal government wants is interesting. in my humble opinion they are the problem, too much reugulation keeps our economy from expanding.
    To: Mr. Babcock: Congrats on putting this deal together and on the sale of the apartment site. I know this will be a high quality development and hope you are well rewarded for the effort and risk you are willing to take. All the best!

  6. Paul May 9, 2012 at 11:07 am - Reply

    I would like for the builders and developers in the Metro Richmond area to travel to other cities to see what “New Development” really is. Smaller more detailed homes with front porches on smaller lots and pedestrian friendly. Visit serenbe.com see what fresh new ideas are out there and stop giving us the same tired outdated neighborhoods.

  7. Bragg May 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm - Reply


  8. Rob May 9, 2012 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    There’s another high school in the works in West Henrico? When did that happen?

  9. Bob Johnsen May 9, 2012 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    I moved to Western Hanover (Montpelier) in 2010 from living in the Brandermill/Woodlake area for eight years.

    Believe me, the traffic in Short Pump is very mild in comparison to the Hull Street corridor in Midlothian.

    @Rob – I believe it’s an elementary school that is under construction on Pouncy Tract Road near the Gayton Road extension.

    @Jack Kay – agree about Montpelier!

  10. Tim May 10, 2012 at 7:11 am - Reply

    The nice new N. Gayton extension (which they seem to never be working on) will not help traffic in that area either – they will claim it will – but anyone who commutes Pouncey Tract Road will tell you – it won’t! The new extension won’t relieve Broad St., nor does it have i-64 on/off ramps – the only point was to open up new development! Henrico Board of Supervisors only care about tax base – and not the Henrico traffic!! Poor planning, poor traffic engineering!

    Heck, the corner of Broad St. and Pouncey Tract is presently cleard for a new drug store – perfect time for Henrico to widen that intersection now (while it’s cleared) and ADD a west bound turning lane onto Broad St. – but that won’t happen –

    Just wait until Wyndam gets it’s new section of homes….only gets worse out there! Anyone talking of road improvements????

  11. Bill May 10, 2012 at 7:17 am - Reply

    Without an interchange with I-64 at the new Gayton Rd bridge, traffic on Broad St will only get worse as everyone still has to trudge down Broad St to get to the Interstate. Extremely short sighted to not include an interchange with the new bridge, at least a half interchange going East towards Downtown to funnel off some of the traffic headed East.

  12. DaveM May 10, 2012 at 8:02 am - Reply

    I laugh anytime someone complains about traffic in the Richmond area. Seriously, go to Atlanta, DC or Boston. That is TRAFFIC.

  13. Phillip May 10, 2012 at 9:23 am - Reply

    @ Tim – west bound turn lane part of drug store development.

    Just spend yesterday evening on the 360 corridor for dinner- traffic in short pump is nothing. Other than December, I have zero issues getting around. A cycle through a red light isn’t awful traffic.

    Spend a few hours driving through the suburbs of DC (Northern VA, Maryland) and you’ll realize what a treat short pump is.

  14. Michael May 18, 2012 at 6:56 am - Reply

    Why no vinyl siding? That crummy hardboard stuff rots in this climate after a few years. Okay … if you mean the development will be only brick, that works. But I hate to see siding that will require painting, since there are always those people who won’t keep up with maintenance and some homes start looking shoddy.

  15. B July 6, 2012 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    “… next to a new 70-acre park the size of Deep Run.” What is this news about a new 70 acre park? The only 70 acre park I have heard about for this area is a 70 acre medical office park. Is that what he is trying to spin as a new park?

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