The plan to transition Innsbrook from a suburban office park to an urban mixed-use community is gaining traction.
A rare rezoning request under Henrico County’s new urban mixed-use (UMU) zoning district is set to go before the planning commission at its meeting this Thursday. The request could transform a 4-acre parcel at the southeast corner of Innslake Drive and Dominion Boulevard from an individual office building into a mix of residential and office uses.
WAM Associates LLC, a group of investors led by developer and broker Joe Marchetti Jr., is seeking a UMU zoning and provisional-use permit to add two buildings totaling 350 apartments and a structured parking deck around an existing office building at 4235 Innslake Drive. The 28,400-square-foot building on the site currently houses Benchmark Mortgage Companies.
While not the first request under the UMU designation – Highwoods Properties received approval for a UMU district on 40 acres southwest of Cox Road and Sadler Place in 2012 – the request is the first since the creation last June of an Innsbrook overlay district that allows for UMU zoning on parcels with a minimum of 4 acres. Previously, UMU was restricted to parcels 20 acres or larger, as it continues to be outside the Innsbrook overlay.
Marchetti said the project would follow suit with a 2010 study and urban design guidelines that have been in the works for Innsbrook over the past several years. Those guidelines are meant to help transition the 630-acre park east of Short Pump from primarily office buildings and surface parking lots to a mix of uses that include residential and retail.
“The workforce needs for our new, younger workers are changing dramatically. They’re more about living and working and playing in a tighter environment, so they put less emphasis on cars and more emphasis on walking and bikes,” Marchetti said.
“The new Innsbrook design guidelines along with the new UMU zoning allow for the residential densification of the Innsbrook office park,” he said. “This is just allowing Innsbrook to compete with the urban core for businesses, to keep the jobs in the park.”
WAM Associates LLC purchased the 4-acre parcel at Innslake and Dominion for $3.96 million in 2008. The existing building was constructed in 1984, according to county property records.
Plans call for two new five-story buildings containing 350 one- and two-bedroom apartments and a new three-level parking deck with 261 spaces. With existing parking, that would bring the total number of spaces on the property to 329.
One building planned along Dominion Boulevard would house about 105 apartments that would surround a courtyard above 68 underground parking spaces. The other building, along Innslake Drive, would total as much as 145 units.
The three-level parking deck would be built between that building and the Hyatt Place hotel to the north of the property. Two new access points from Innslake would be added, as well as a plaza at the site’s primary entrance.
WAM Associates is working with Virginia Beach-based Saunders + Crouse Architects and Jim Theobald with Richmond law firm Hirschler Fleischer. Marchetti said a developer has yet to be selected, and he said a cost estimate and timeline has not been determined.
“This is a rezoning of the land for a residential project to be built sometime in the future, but not yet determined,” Marchetti said.
A report from the county planning department says staff supports the proposed project and recommends the rezoning, citing goals it would achieve such as developing underutilized properties, incorporating structured parking, including a passive open space area and recreational amenities, and adding street trees and sidewalks. The related provisional-use permit would allow adjustments to building height, square footage and other guidelines.
Henrico planning director Joe Emerson said the proposal falls in line with what the county envisions for Innsbrook.
“It’s a goal we’ve been working toward: trying to introduce residential uses to support the office uses in Innsbrook, and also make use of the open space in Innsbrook,” Emerson said.
“There’s a great deal of underutilized parking area in Innsbrook, and of course with its age, we think we’re going to see some transition to newer office buildings in the future,” he said. “Making these allowances and seeing this development move forward confirms our belief that it is viable to turn it into a mixed-use community.”