As Wegmans awaits the fate of its proposed distribution facility in Hanover County, a similar-sized project for another large retailer is moving forward north of Ashland.
A 1.1 million-square-foot distribution center for Lowe’s Home Improvement is in the works on a roughly 200-acre site north of Hickory Hill Road, along the west side of Interstate 95.
The $50 million-plus facility would fill the bulk of what’s been marketed as Graymont Industrial Park — the site of the former Camptown Races horse racing track, as well as a century-old namesake house that the state has deemed eligible for historic recognition.
The distribution center would apparently replace both, according to a site plan on file with the county that puts its footprint just north of Hickory Hill Road and alongside an adjacent railroad line. The location is reflected on an erosion and sediment control plan that was submitted last month on behalf of Richmond-based Brooks Investments Co., which owns the property.
Lowe’s would lease the entire facility, which is being developed by Becknell Industrial. The Indiana-based firm and Brooks both requested a zoning compliance letter from the county last fall, typically an indicator of a pending property transaction.
Applications also were submitted in recent weeks for two land disturbance permits, one for a commercial building larger than 10,000 square feet, the other for a stream diversion plan for the site.
Site work has gotten underway on the property, but the county issued a stop work order on Tuesday because the permits had yet to be approved, according to county officials. Both permit applications were listed as being processed on the county’s website this week.
Attempts to reach Brooks and Becknell for comment were unsuccessful Thursday.
Indiana-based Peterson Construction and Property Services is handling the site work. A call to the company’s project manager was not returned.
Steve Salazar, a spokesman for Lowe’s, confirmed the facility Thursday and said it is part of a $1.7 billion investment to expand the national retailer’s distribution network through 2023. He said the Hanover facility is slated to begin shipping appliances by spring 2022, replenishing inventory at more than 100 stores in the Mid-Atlantic region.
“This facility will serve as a bulk distribution center that will provide daily shipments of appliances and other bulky items such as riding mowers, grills and patio furniture to Lowe’s cross-dock facilities for last-mile delivery to customers,” Salazar said in an email. “The distribution center is expected to bring more than 100 new jobs to Ashland, and we are excited to join the Ashland community.”
Site was floated for Wegmans
The site, just east of Route 1, is just north of the corporate headquarters for office furniture retailer The Supply Room, as well as distribution centers for The Vitamin Shoppe and wine wholesaler Republic National Distributing Co.
It at one time had been considered for Wegmans’ proposed distribution facility and regional headquarters. That project, likewise totaling 1.1 million square feet, is now planned on about 220 acres just east of Hanover County Municipal Airport, where it’s facing legal challenges from homeowners arguing that the $175 million project would adversely impact their way of life and property values.
A hearing on an amended version of that lawsuit is anticipated next month. Environmental approvals required for the project also could be decided in coming months.
The Graymont site is zoned for industrial use, allowing the Lowe’s facility to be developed by right. The property had at one time been marketed for sale by Porter Realty with an asking price of $4.75 million. A county-owned parcel fronting Hickory Hill and Elletts Crossing roads had been included as part of the property.
County property records show that Brooks has owned the property, which consists of two parcels, since the mid-2000s. It purchased the larger race track parcel from Camptown Charities Inc. in 2006 for $860,000. The smaller parcel, which houses the century-old Greymont house at 10462 Hickory Hill Road, was purchased a year earlier for $835,000.
The latest county assessment valued the 31-acre parcel at about $758,000 and the 157-acre parcel at over $1.23 million.
Greymont, built circa 1910, is a Colonial Revival-style house that the Virginia Department of Historic Resources recommended as eligible for listing on state and national historic registers. A 2005 report prepared for Hanover County cites the department as describing the house as “an excellent example of the Colonial Revival style used for a large country estate.”