Six months after receiving an initial thumbs down from the county, a reworked version of a hotel-anchored development that would bring hundreds of new homes and other uses to central Chesterfield has secured the approval of county supervisors.
The board on Wednesday voted 4-1 to approve a zoning change for Courthouse Landing, a now-$290 million development planned for 122 acres southeast of the Route 288-Iron Bridge Road interchange, on undeveloped land between the interstate and Courthouse Road east of Iron Bridge.
The project, a joint venture between Florida-based Dunphy Properties and Atlanta-based Shuler Properties, is planned to consist of a 120-room hotel, 265,000 square feet of retail space, 100,000 square feet of office and medical office, 115,000 square feet of self-storage space, and 600 multifamily units, split between 300 apartments, and 300 townhomes and condos.
The project would fill the partly-county-owned site that has been marketed for development off and on for years. Infrastructure improvements proffered by the developers have raised the estimated project cost to $290 million, up from their initial estimate of $265 million. (Previous articles reported a lower estimate that was incorrect.)
Wednesday’s vote was a stark contrast to six months earlier, when the Planning Commission unanimously recommended denial. Stopping short of voting the project down, supervisors in January instead sent the case back to the commission, giving the developers time to address concerns about traffic and school impacts, and the site’s proximity to nearby Chesterfield County Airport.
The case was supposed to come back to the commission in March, but that meeting was cancelled due to coronavirus concerns. A deferral the following month delayed the case further, and the commission finally voted in support of the project in May, reflecting changes to the project that had been made in the time since.
Modifications include the removal of retention ponds and limits on water detention facilities to prevent waterfowl from congregating within the airport’s flight path. Building heights are restricted to 60 feet, and the project calls for a phased development to balance out residential and commercial construction.
Other changes include the addition of a sound-suppression system for residential properties, and traffic improvements, including additional turn lanes at the intersection of Iron Bridge and Courthouse roads.
In all, the developers have committed to about $14 million in upfront infrastructure improvements, including more than $10 million in traffic enhancements and about $4 million in underground stormwater facilities and utilities. Those improvements would be required before construction could start – a commitment that developer Jim Dunphy said they were willing to make to move the project forward.
“We think we’ve done a really good job bringing an A-quality product to the table that’s going to change the face of Chesterfield for the good,” Dunphy said ahead of Wednesday’s meeting. “We just really believe in the project and what we can make happen there. A lot of that is betting on the future, but we’re confident in the product and we’re confident in our ability to deliver.”
The developers had previously reduced the project’s density in response to the traffic concerns and to accommodate requested improvements, with 50 fewer residential units, 30 fewer hotel rooms, 30,000 less office square footage and 85,000 less retail square footage than their initial proposal last fall.
In addition to Dunphy and Shuler, the development team 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 under contract to purchase the site, which consists of multiple parcels owned either by the county or WSWL Properties LLC. Dunphy said they anticipate closing on the site about this time next year, with a negotiated price of $2.4 million for the county-owned land. The latest county assessment valued the LLC-owned parcel, totaling nearly 65 acres, at $2.33 million.
Dunphy said construction would begin after closing, and once all the infrastructure improvements are completed. Construction would start with the 300 apartments, to be built by Indianapolis-based Edward Rose & Sons.
Reston-based Stanley Martin Homes is signed on to build the townhomes and “two-over-two”-style condos, which Dunphy said cannot be built until his team first delivers 40,000 square feet of commercial space. He said total buildout for Courthouse Landing likely would take about five years.
Dunphy said they have commitments for a hotel operator and multiple retail tenants. He declined to name them. He said they’re working to get commitments on the medical office and self-storage spaces.
“We’ve had some pretty good response from the commercial world, both retail and some office,” Dunphy said. “There are some other components that we need commitments on, and those are the ones that we’re betting on. We’ve had great conversations, but we’re not at a point where we have commitments yet.”
The developers worked locally with Roth Jackson attorney Andy Condlin and NAI Dominion’s Jeff Doxey.