Zoning change opens the way for Southside project

A site plan for the layout of Riverside Heights. (Photo courtesy of the developer).

A site plan for the layout of Riverside Heights. (Photo courtesy of the developer).

A Richmond developer has its sights set on a new residential project in Forest Hill.

Hope Equity LLC is looking to build 59 townhouses on 10 acres on Bliley Road near its intersection with Forest Hill Avenue.

The development, called Riverside Heights, is awaiting final site plan approvals from the city planning commission. If all goes as planned work there could start in the summer, said Brad Schurman, an engineer with Balzer and Associates in Richmond who did the site plan for the project.

Hope Equity will prepare the lots and install the infrastructure. It will then sell the lots to a builder. The company’s managing director Ed Mitchell said he is in negotiations with Ryan Homes, Richmond’s most active home builder according to the BizSense List.

Mitchell said that section of the Southside, located near James River Park and Stony Point Fashion Park, doesn’t have a lot of townhouse-style options.

“We’re excited about that product at that location because it’s such a great location with access to amenities,” he said.

Meanwhile another larger-scale residential project is in the works a few miles up the road.

Atlanta-based developer Wood Partners has plans in the works for a $40 million, 282-unit apartment complex near Stony Point Fashion Park.

Mitchell said his group is currently putting together bid packages for site contractors for Riverside Heights. As is, the 10-acre lot is wooded and gently rolling, he said. He said he is using private capital sources for the land development.

The project has been in the works for several years. A zoning change allowing townhouses was granted in July 2012, Mitchell said. Hope Equity bought the property in pieces in 2005 and 2006 from several owners for about $800,000, he said.

“Before it was too complicated for development because it had fragmented ownership,” Mitchell said.

Should the deal with Hope Equity get inked, Ryan Homes said it is planning two- and three-story townhomes. Potential prices have not been finalized but the builder said they could start in the low $200,000 range. Sales could begin later this year.

Riverside Heights will also feature a storm water pond – designed as an amenity — and a walking trail.

Mitchell said Hope Equity was formed just for this project but he and his partners have been involved in other real estate ventures throughout the years. Most of their work has been on the industrial side, he said, and this is their first venture into residential development.

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