Five years after it was seen as an integral part of then-Mayor Dwight Jones’ Shockoe Bottom baseball stadium plans, a sizable chunk of Shockoe Bottom land is on deck for a potential new development.
A total of 5.3 acres at 300, 400 and 510 Oliver Hill Way, and 1616 and 1620 E. Broad St. owned by the Loving family is up for rezoning to potentially make way for a mixed-use development that could bring a new large retailer to the neighborhood.
Local developer Charles MacFarlane, along with Lory Markham of Markham Planning and Cliff Porter of Porter Realty, are signed on to run the project. The Lovings, known for Loving’s Produce which they operated for 70 years until its closure in 2019, would continue to own the land, the bulk of which is used as a parking lot.
“It’s a real opportunity for redevelopment into a much higher use than the pitted parking lots that are there right now,” Markham said of the plan.
Added MacFarlane, “It’s taking land that’s way underutilized and making way for economic development that would be neighborhood- and community-appropriate, and adding it to the tax base.”
Markham and MacFarlane said the specifics of the project are still in the works, but noted the plan would include a mixed-use building on the site that would have apartments on top of commercial use on the ground floor. Internal parking structures would also be involved.
The site has already drawn interest from a few commercial operators, MacFarlane said, the details of which he could not disclose. He did, however, say that one such operator is a “large box retailer” and “food-related.”
“You can kind of guess what that might be,” MacFarlane said. “We do have several very capable, very well-known, credit-worthy prospects that are interested in the property. Because it is a gateway site, it is high on the list of desirable locations.”
The total number of possible dwelling units and the project cost have not been determined.
The group is seeking to rezone the land to TOD-1 Transit-oriented Nodal District, a designation created in 2017 to encourage more density.
The land at the northwest corner of East Broad and North 17th streets is currently zoned M-1 Light Industrial and M-2 Heavy Industrial. It is primarily used as a surface parking lot. A 20,000-square-foot warehouse at 510 Oliver Hill Way that’s home to flooring contractor LevelFinish is the only building on the plot.
MacFarlane said the land is in an opportunity zone, and that any development would be structured so that the Loving family would remain owners of the land. Markham and MacFarlane said they’ve already received support from the Shockoe Neighborhood Association and Shockoe Partnership.
The rezoning request was filed on Oct. 13, and Markham said they hope to go before the city’s Planning Commission in February or March of 2021.
MacFarlane has a history with the Loving property. He was a key player in Jones’s stadium proposal, having signed on to develop a 120-room Hyatt hotel on the Loving site.
The stadium would have risen on a swath of vacant land on the other side of East Broad that’s also owned by the Loving family. Jones’ plan never materialized.