Secretive Chesterfield industrial site being built for Fortune 50 firm

Armada Hoffler submitted plans for a distribution facility at 1608 Willis Road in Chesterfield County. (J. Elias O’Neal)

More details behind a code-named industrial project in Chesterfield County are emerging.

Armada Hoffler, a Hampton Roads-based real estate investment firm, said in an earnings conference call Tuesday that the 220,000-square-foot distribution center it is planning at 1608 Willis Road is being built for an undisclosed Fortune 50 company.

Louis Haddad, president and CEO of the publicly traded REIT, also told analysts that the project will cost $23 million.

He said the project, listed in Chesterfield planning records as Project River City, will be built by Armada Hoffler’s construction arm as a build-to-suit for the unnamed tenant.

“This new building is the result of a consolidation of three older facilities,” Haddad said. He did not disclose the firm looking to consolidate its operations in the area.

Plans show the site can be expanded 36,500 square feet and includes a CSX rail spur north of the property.

Armada Hoffler did not respond to requests for additional comments about Project River City on Wednesday.

The Fortune 50 includes such firms as PepsiCo, Amazon, Target, Walmart and other big names.

The proposed facility would occupy 27 acres of a 178-acre tract owned by Alstom Power Inc., according to county documents. Alstom was purchased in 2015 by General Electric, which operates a manufacturing facility next door to the property at 1200 Willis Road.

CBRE | Richmond brokers John Carpin and Wood Thornton have listed the full 178 acres for $2.5 million, according to a marketing brochure. Much of the northern half of the tract is wetlands, while 56 acres, including the proposed 27-acre distribution facility, can be developed along Willis Road.

As part of its agreement with Armada Hoffler, Haddad said the user has opted to enter into a long-term lease agreement. However, since the firm is “not long-term holders of industrial real estate,” Haddad said, it expects the project will be “designed, built, occupied and sold within 2018.”

No timeline for construction has been released. The property is zoned for industrial use, meaning the project is not subject to a public hearing or final vote by the county’s board of supervisors.

If granted approval by the planning department, Project River City would be Armada Hoffler’s first foray into industrial development in metro Richmond. The company is known more for office, retail and multifamily properties.

Haddad said Armada Hoffler has completed third-party, build-to-suit work since the 1990s. Its holdings span Virginia, the Carolinas and greater Washington, D.C.

Its Richmond-area holdings include the Dimmock Square and Southgate Square shopping centers in Colonial Heights, Bermuda Crossroads in Chester, and the Southshore Shops in Chesterfield County. The firm developed the Williams Mullen Center at 200 S. 10th St. downtown and sold it in January 2016 for $78 million.

Armada Hoffler submitted plans for a distribution facility at 1608 Willis Road in Chesterfield County. (J. Elias O’Neal)

More details behind a code-named industrial project in Chesterfield County are emerging.

Armada Hoffler, a Hampton Roads-based real estate investment firm, said in an earnings conference call Tuesday that the 220,000-square-foot distribution center it is planning at 1608 Willis Road is being built for an undisclosed Fortune 50 company.

Louis Haddad, president and CEO of the publicly traded REIT, also told analysts that the project will cost $23 million.

He said the project, listed in Chesterfield planning records as Project River City, will be built by Armada Hoffler’s construction arm as a build-to-suit for the unnamed tenant.

“This new building is the result of a consolidation of three older facilities,” Haddad said. He did not disclose the firm looking to consolidate its operations in the area.

Plans show the site can be expanded 36,500 square feet and includes a CSX rail spur north of the property.

Armada Hoffler did not respond to requests for additional comments about Project River City on Wednesday.

The Fortune 50 includes such firms as PepsiCo, Amazon, Target, Walmart and other big names.

The proposed facility would occupy 27 acres of a 178-acre tract owned by Alstom Power Inc., according to county documents. Alstom was purchased in 2015 by General Electric, which operates a manufacturing facility next door to the property at 1200 Willis Road.

CBRE | Richmond brokers John Carpin and Wood Thornton have listed the full 178 acres for $2.5 million, according to a marketing brochure. Much of the northern half of the tract is wetlands, while 56 acres, including the proposed 27-acre distribution facility, can be developed along Willis Road.

As part of its agreement with Armada Hoffler, Haddad said the user has opted to enter into a long-term lease agreement. However, since the firm is “not long-term holders of industrial real estate,” Haddad said, it expects the project will be “designed, built, occupied and sold within 2018.”

No timeline for construction has been released. The property is zoned for industrial use, meaning the project is not subject to a public hearing or final vote by the county’s board of supervisors.

If granted approval by the planning department, Project River City would be Armada Hoffler’s first foray into industrial development in metro Richmond. The company is known more for office, retail and multifamily properties.

Haddad said Armada Hoffler has completed third-party, build-to-suit work since the 1990s. Its holdings span Virginia, the Carolinas and greater Washington, D.C.

Its Richmond-area holdings include the Dimmock Square and Southgate Square shopping centers in Colonial Heights, Bermuda Crossroads in Chester, and the Southshore Shops in Chesterfield County. The firm developed the Williams Mullen Center at 200 S. 10th St. downtown and sold it in January 2016 for $78 million.

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