$90M apartments to anchor Watkins Centre project

watkins centre rendering

Rendering of the planned 450-unit apartment community on Watkins Centre Parkway. (Castle Development)

An already-hot apartment market in Midlothian appears to be gaining more steam.

A $90 million, 450-unit apartment project along Watkins Centre Parkway is in the works on part of a 123-acre parcel that last month received rezoning approval to accommodate a mix of residential and commercial uses.

Charlottesville-based Castle Development Partners is behind the apartments, which will sit on 18 acres the group is planning to purchase from Watkins Land LLC. They’ll rise across Midlothian Turnpike from the Westchester Commons retail development.

Castle Development principal Andy McGinty said construction is slated to begin by yearend, with people occupying the residential units by the end of 2019.

“It’s a large project and one that we feel is going to add value to the future development of the site,” McGinty said. “Midlothian is such an anomaly to what’s happening everywhere else … There is so much pent-up demand for apartments in that area of Richmond.”

The project is being fast-tracked by Chesterfield County Planning, according to county records.

Castle Development specializes in the construction and acquisition of apartment communities throughout the Mid-Atlantic.

While the Watkins Centre deal is the group’s first apartment project in Chesterfield County, it has completed several developments in metro Richmond, including Beaver Dam Creek in Mechanicsville and The Greens at Virginia Center in Glen Allen.

McGinty said 45 percent of the 450 units will be studio and one-bedroom apartments, another 45 percent would be two-bedroom units, and the remaining would be three-bedrooms. He said the complex would offer amenities such as a saltwater pool, green spaces and a fitness center.

The apartments would be the first phase of what is shaping up to be a massive mixed-use development on the 123-acre parcel.

The site, which has been owned by the Watkins family for generations, was poised for light industrial and medical users since its initial rezoning in 2006, according to county records.

But despite access to rail on the site, industrial users never took to the area and over the years, the family sold off pieces of the property, ushering in a wave of non-industrial users such as the former Village Bank headquarters and Bon Secours Westchester Emergency Center and Neurology Clinic.

The next step in putting more of the land into play came Feb. 28, when the county’s Board of Supervisors granted the family’s rezoning request on the site, paving the way for Castle Development to move forward with its plan.

McGinty said the area is well-positioned for growth, adding the former industrial zoning deterred growth at the Midlothian Turnpike and Route 288 interchange.

“It just didn’t work for this area,” he said. “It was pretty surprising, because in other places, like Orlando or Raleigh, those types of interchanges would have already had growth occur, or would have development underway. That’s what made this such an attractive deal.”

Far west Midlothian is gearing up for an apartment unit boom that’s rivaling density efforts in the city of Richmond.

Nearly 2,100 units have either been approved or are in planning stages within 1.5 miles of the future Watkins Centre Apartments.

Work on Winterfield Crossing’s first phase of apartments is underway. Midlothian West, a development comprising 275 apartments and 170 townhomes, is in the works across the street.

Westchester Development Partners, made up of Chesterfield County developers Casey Sowers and George Emerson, is proposing two buildings totaling 236 apartments on a 5-acre parcel overlooking Route 288 at the northeastern edge of Westchester Commons.

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Bruce Milam
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The floodgates of Class A apartments appear to have opened in Chesterfield. There’s a few more that will show on the scene soon. The market is demanding more of these and the Route 288 corridor will be the spot for them.

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