Builder eyes hundreds of homes, apartments in Midlothian

Renderings of homes planned for the new development. Courtesy Schell Brothers.

After two years of testing the market with clusters of homes, one of the more recent additions to the local homebuilding scene is now looking to bite off its own full-fledged residential community.

Schell Brothers is eyeing nearly 218 acres off Winterpock Road in Chesterfield County for a development totaling 537 homes, consisting of single-family homes and a 288-unit apartment complex.

The Delaware-based builder, which expanded to Richmond in 2016, is seeking county approval to re-zone the land from agricultural to residential use to accommodate the project, which division President Shane Burnette said would be the company’s first crack at its own community in Richmond.

“Our thinking is that this is the first true Schell community” in Richmond, Burnette said. “Whereas a lot of neighborhoods that we’re in we have our own section or we’re mixed in with maybe one or two other builders, this would give us the chance to have our own community.”

The property, which consists of three parcels that Burnette said are under contract, is located between Mark Sowers’ 1,200-acre Harpers Mill development and brother Doug Sowers’ Collington community, where another Richmond market newcomer, national homebuilder D.R. Horton, purchased 48 home lots this year.

Since arriving in Richmond with the help of Burnette, who left Midlothian-based Perkinson Homes to lead the local office, Schell Brothers has picked up lots and built dozens of homes in established communities such as Magnolia Green and Lake Margaret at The Highlands.

It purchased 40 acres next to Hallsley for its 28-lot Sanctuary at Roseland subdivision, and construction is about to start on its first local apartment project: a 248-unit complex at Magnolia Green.

Rendering of the apartments planned for Schell’s new community.

Burnette said the homes in the Winterpock development would be modeled after those apartments and single-family homes in Magnolia Green’s Palmilla section. The single-family homes, targeted to empty-nesters and downsizers, would have a minimum of 1,500 square feet and be grouped in three neighborhoods based on lot sizes, which would range, per neighborhood, from 60 to 90 feet in width.

The 288 apartments would consist primarily of one- and two-bedroom floor plans, with up to 10 percent of the units totaling three bedrooms. Conceptual plans submitted to the county show the apartments would be housed in nine buildings, each restricted to five stories in height. Tenant amenities would include a clubhouse, pool and fitness center.

Burnette said rents and prices for the apartments and houses have yet to be determined, and he said it is too early to put a cost on the project, which Schell Brothers is floating to prospective developers. While Schell Brothers would serve as the builder, Burnette said it is looking for another company to serve as developer.

The company is working with engineering firm Balzer and Associates, and Preston Lloyd of Williams Mullen is representing the firm in the rezoning process.

The rezoning request was scheduled to go before the county planning commission July 19, but Burnette said the company is requesting a deferral to the commission’s next monthly meeting, in light of the county’s recent delay in reviewing another proposed development in the area: a 120-acre senior-centric community proposed near Swift Creek Reservoir by Woolridge Investment Co.

Burnette, who is serving this year as president of the Home Building Association of Richmond, said Schell Brothers plans to use the additional time to hold community meetings and inform the public about its project.

“We wanted to take our time and make sure we got the right community engagement and involvement,” Burnette said. “We feel like the project is a sound project; we feel confident in it. But at the same time, based on the feedback of that case, we thought it would be best to drop back and make sure we’ve got all the buy-in from the proper people that we need to make sure we get approvals.”

The Winterpock area has been a hot spot for new residential development in recent years. In addition to the fast-growing Harpers Mill and Collington, Henrico-based Cornerstone Homes broke ground last year on Villas at Ashlake, a 55-and-up development just north of the Schell Brothers site.

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