A month after getting a thumbs-down from county planners, a controversial development that would add a hotel, commercial buildings and 600 homes between the Chesterfield airport and courthouse has been thrown a lifeline.
At their meeting Wednesday evening, Chesterfield supervisors allowed more time for county staff and developers behind the Courthouse Landing project to address concerns surrounding the 122-acre development, proposed for land southeast of the Route 288-Iron Bridge Road interchange, along the north side of Courthouse Road.
Dale District Supervisor Jim Holland led the board in voting to send the developers’ rezoning request back to the Planning Commission, which voted unanimously in December to recommend denial due to concerns about projected traffic and school impacts, and the site’s proximity to Chesterfield County Airport.
Supervisors were scheduled to decide the project Wednesday, but Holland asked for the case to go back to the commission so the developers and staff could have more time to address the concerns and report back to the board for a hearing at its April 22 meeting.
Specifically, the developers and staff are directed to develop a plan to improve traffic in the area, with the developers “expected to contribute their fair share to its implementation.” The plan would be included as part of the rezoning case and would detail improvements both short- and long-term.
The developers – Florida-based Dunphy Properties and Atlanta-based Shuler Properties – also are required to show that the Federal Aviation Administration has conceptually approved the project’s impact on the flight path of the airport, which is located on the opposite side of the 288 interchange.
Measures to prevent waterfowl from gathering around the development’s stormwater management facilities also would be required. The developers previously have said they would do so by using sound technology to deter birds from the site, and restrict building heights to 66 feet in light of the flight path.
Last, county staff will have to show that area schools can accommodate the additional students anticipated from the project, and develop a plan to improve traffic circulation at all schools along Courthouse Road, including the nearby Gates Elementary School, Chesterfield Technical Center and L.C. Bird High School.
Holland also is requiring that an additional community meeting be held to explain to the public how the issues have been addressed.
“If the applicant can address these concerns, I will be prepared to recommend approval of the case when it returns to the Board,” Holland wrote in a letter to citizens dated Jan. 17.
Earlier in the letter, Holland said he was basing the requirements on concerns expressed by speakers in last month’s public hearing before the Planning Commission, as well as from citizens he had talked to one on one.
“While I believe investment in the Dale District is sorely needed, it will not be at the detriment of its current residents,” Holland said in the letter. “As such, I will not support this case until (those) issues are resolved.”
$165 million project
Estimated at $165 million, the latest version of the project calls for 300 apartments, 300 townhomes and “two-over-two”-style condos, 100,000 square feet of office and medical office space, a 120-room hotel, 100,000 square feet of self-storage space, and 265,000 square feet of retail.
Those numbers are down from the initial proposal the group filed with the county last fall, with 50 fewer residential units, 30 fewer hotel rooms, 30,000 less office square footage and 85,000 less retail square footage. At the commission hearing, Dunphy principal Jim Dunphy said the reductions were made in response to the traffic concerns and to accommodate the requested transportation improvements.
In addition to Dunphy and Shuler, the development team behind Courthouse Landing includes Atlanta-based investment group Batson-Cook Development Co., and commercial real estate brokerage NAI Dominion. Shuler’s retail developments in Virginia have included the Bed Bath & Beyond-anchored Towne Crossing shopping center at Courthouse Road and Midlothian Turnpike.
The group is working with local Roth Jackson attorney Andrew Condlin, who is representing the group in the rezoning process. Condlin said Wednesday that the group was consenting to address the issues laid out in Holland’s letter.
Dunphy said the group has a contract with Reston-based Stanley Martin Homes to build the townhomes and condos, and with Indianapolis-based Edward Rose & Sons for the apartments.
Shuler and Dunphy are working with NAI Dominion’s Jeff Doxey, who has been marketing the site for development for years on behalf of one of the property owners, listed in county records as WSWL Properties LLC, which owns the parcel closest to the interstate. The county owns two other parcels that make up the rest of the site.
The group is under contract with WSWL and the county’s EDA to purchase the land. Dunphy said the negotiated price for the county-owned land is $2.4 million. The latest county assessment valued the LLC-owned parcel, totaling nearly 65 acres, at $2.33 million.