Parking garages with buildings wrapped around them. Infill development in place of surface parking. More access points and transportation options. Civic and recreational areas and greenspace additions.
Those were among the ideas floated for the future of Short Pump Town Center in a weeklong charrette that concluded in late February.
More than 85 people took part in the daily series of planning sessions, which served to bookend a years-long effort to update Henrico County’s code to include form-based zoning, an optional but heavily incentivized approach to encouraging development and redevelopment in certain areas of the county.
The Short Pump charrette was the last of five that have been held throughout the process. Others focused on the Parham-and-Broad area and the Genworth-anchored Brookfield Office Park, the Williamsburg Road corridor between Laburnum Avenue and the airport, and Virginia Center Commons – which, along with Regency, is one of two malls in the county undergoing transformation.
The open-air Short Pump Town Center, which opened in 2003, is nearing the 20-year mark and showing its age, particularly with its sea of surface parking that has fallen out of favor with today’s urban and suburban planners.
As such, the charrette focused mainly on those areas in envisioning what the property could potentially become. Planners with consulting firms Clarion Associates and Dover, Kohl & Partners bounced ideas off participants and also solicited their suggestions for the prospect of transitioning the mall property into a neighborhood of its own, complete with residential buildings, civic areas and additional commercial development that could generate more revenue for the county.
Consultants likened the concept to Val D’Europe, a shopping mall and mixed-use development east of Paris, as well as stateside developments like The Wharf in D.C., where retail, office and residential buildings enclose and camouflage structured parking within.
The ideas for Short Pump envision as many as six parking garages that would anchor clusters of infill development across the mall’s parking lots. Additional buildings would hug the mall’s loop road, with park areas and greenspace filling gaps between and along Interstate 64 and parts of West Broad Street.
Access to the site would be enhanced with easier access points on the east and west sides, ideally alleviating the main entrances from Broad. Presenters acknowledged that such improvements likely would not solve the area’s traffic challenges, but they said the goal would be to keep them from getting worse.
Other ideas include a village green area and a transportation hub on the south side of the Macy’s department store, where an internal bus stop and other facilities for multimodal transportation could be located.
Presenters also noted that Nordstrom’s recent exit presents the mall with an opportunity to reimagine that now-vacant space, either as a revamped store space with additional windows, or a chopped-up space to accommodate more stores.
The consultants emphasized that such moves are completely up to the property owners and that the form-based code that the charrette will inform is only an option available to them.
A spokeswoman for Brookfield Properties, which owns the mall along with Australia-based QIC and local developer Pruitt Cos., declined to comment to BizSense on any plans for the former Nordstrom space.
Results from the charrettes for the Broad-and-Parham area, Brookfield Office Park, Williamsburg Road and Virginia Center Commons are posted here.
The county Planning Commission voted to approve the code update at its latest meeting on Feb. 25. A public hearing and vote by the county Board of Supervisors is anticipated later this year.
BizSense reporter Jack Jacobs contributed to this report.