Bacova development progressing in Short Pump

Liesfield Farm

Royal Dominion constructing homes at Liesfield Farm at Bacova, November 2015. (Courtesy of Royal Dominion)

A years-in-the-making development in Short Pump continues to take shape along Interstate 64.

Plans have been filed for the community center for Bacova, a collection of residential neighborhoods on 165 acres between North Gayton and Pouncey Tract roads, on the north side of the interstate across from Short Pump Town Center.

The Henrico County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing Wednesday on the plans for the center, as well as on the first section of one of the development’s subdivisions, Hawksgate at Bacova.

The center is planned to consist of a 2,000-square-foot clubhouse, a 5,000-square-foot swimming pool and bath house, and recreation areas on just over three acres. It would be in the heart of the overall development, midway along its primary connector road: the under-construction Liesfeld Farm Drive.

Robert Babcock

Robert Babcock

That road, an extension of Twin Hickory Lake Drive, will run parallel to the interstate and connect Gayton and Pouncey Tract. Developer Robert Babcock said the $6 million project is slated to open to traffic after Labor Day.

Meanwhile, Babcock’s Bacova Development Company has been adding and selling properties within the development area and adjacent to it, in what Babcock described as a change in direction for Bacova since its initial zoning in late 2011.

Two parcels totaling 13 acres recently were sold to Goochland-based Boone Homes, which is developing 24 single-family lots that will make up Hawksgate at Bacova. Boone paid $3.3 million for the land, according to Henrico property records.

Another 23 acres were sold to Lawrence Liesfeld’s Welford Properties LLC, which is developing the Enclave at Bacova subdivision for Ryan Homes. The Reston-based builder plans to build 38 single-family homes, Babcock said. Online county records do not list a purchase price for the land.

Babcock’s Bacova LLC has purchased additional parcels on the opposite side of Liesfeld Farm Drive. Short Pump Manor – another Ryan Homes subdivision at the Pouncey Tract end of the road – is under development; and the Marshall Springs at Gayton West apartments, which Hampton Roads developer The Breeden Co. began in 2012, are complete.

Short Pump Manor.

Short Pump Manor.

Babcock said the land sales afforded his company afford to build that road, which will include sidewalks and a 10-foot multi-use path, as well as other improvements to public infrastructure.

“It was a business decision we made late last year,” Babcock said. “We sold some property and we bought some others, and we’re going through the land assemblage process right now.”

Babcock said his company has sold about 40 acres within Bacova and purchased nearly the same amount in the past year. He said prices for land in that area of the county can range from $90,000 to $150,000 per acre, adding that his company tries to keep its purchase average below $100,000.

The additional parcels are being incorporated into the master plan for Bacova (view the full site plan here), which is planning as many as 400 homes, 40,000 square feet of office space, the clubhouse and pool, and a 6-acre park. In addition to the previously mentioned neighborhoods, the development includes two additional subdivisions: the 62-lot Liesfeld Farm at Bacova, with homes built by Stanley Martin Homes and Royal Dominion Homes, and the 66-lot Smith Grove at Bacova, which is in the design phase.

“It’s kind of a puzzle,” Babcock said. “Some pieces are falling together. It’s just been a slow and tedious process.

“A major part of that is when you have interested sellers who’d like to sell, but the parcels of land are smaller in nature,” he said. “It’s a strategy in trying to put them all together and then come up with a cohesive plan that makes sense.”

In addition to the apartments, which total 420 units, homes built thus far at Bacova include 34 in Short Pump Manor, which is planned for a total of 95 homes, and about 20 in Liesfeld Farm at Bacova, which is slated for 62.

With another 50 homes to be built by next summer, Babcock said the timing is right to construct the community center, which he said is required to be built and opened by the time 100 homes – about one-third of the number of homes currently zoned – are constructed and occupied.

Bacova is the biggest development for Babcock since he left HHHunt, where he was president of the company’s homes division and had a hand in master planned communities such as Wyndham. Since setting out on his own, he developed a 26-acre section of Bell Creek in Mechanicsville before he started assembling land for Bacova in 2008, just before the economic downturn.

Babcock sees the completion of Liesfeld Farm Drive and the construction of the community center as benchmarks for the development, which he noted comes with considerable improvements to public infrastructure. In addition to the $6 million connector road, he said improvements for water and sewer utilities have totaled upwards of $1.5 million.

“The public improvements are tremendous,” Babcock said. “That is all funded privately. A lot of the public doesn’t understand the developer’s role from a standpoint of bringing some pretty hefty, major infrastructure improvements, and they’re all built to county standards.

“I’m very excited about getting this road opened up, and I think with that, along with the planned amenity facility, you’ll start seeing some synergy and a lot more activity within the overall development.”

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