While proposed zoning changes along one stretch of Broad Street are getting a second look from city planners, another section of the fast-transitioning corridor is receiving priority from the area’s City Council representative.
First District Councilmember Andreas Addison is pushing an effort to extend the city’s TOD-1 zoning district along Broad, stretching it westward across the Interstate 195 expressway from the Scott’s Addition area to as far as city limits at Staples Mill Road.
The change to TOD-1, or Transit-Oriented Nodal District — a newer zoning designation aimed at encouraging so-called “transit-oriented development” — would essentially follow the vision of the city’s Pulse Corridor Plan, which calls for implementing the zoning essentially along the length of the GRTC Pulse rapid-transit bus line.
But with city planners busy with other zoning change proposals, such as those under review for the so-called “Greater Scott’s Addition” part of town, that vision could be achieved more quickly with Addison’s involvement — or at least that’s his goal.
“I asked where this would fall within a rezoning, and they’re like, ‘We’ve got the Greater Scott’s Addition area, the downtown area — all the other things” that need zoning attention, Addison said. “So I took the initiative of not waiting and, as a city councilperson, requested a rezoning of a part of the city that needs it.”
Noting development occurring on the north side of Broad, where Henrico County borders his West End voter district, Addison added, “Henrico’s going to build a lot of stuff across the street, they’re putting in a new Carvana right near TopGolf, so there’s more things coming. If we don’t match what we can do along this corridor, what’s the point?”
Addison recently introduced a resolution that would declare a public necessity to amend the city’s zoning code to accomplish the rezoning, which would change city properties along both sides of Broad from B-3 General Business District to TOD-1.
While the north side of the street includes Henrico County, street-fronting parcels fall within city limits.
The resolution received support this week from the city’s Land Use, Housing and Transportation Standing Committee, which Addison chairs. It now goes to the City Council, which is set to consider it at its regular meeting Monday.
While the TOD zoning would balance out such development on the south side of Broad — laying the groundwork for generally denser, taller, street-fronting buildings — Addison said the change would also make room for more housing options in his district, a request he heard from constituents during his recent re-election campaign.
“I was asked a lot about affordable housing needed in our community, especially in light of the First District is perhaps one of the most affluent and developed communities in the city. There’s not a lot of places to build stuff.
“I said the Pulse corridor rezoning needs to continue to Staples Mill, because it’s really vacant,” he said. “There’s nothing really much along that corridor. And in all honesty, there’s a lot of good resources there.”
Addison pointed to the UMFS campus, where new infill mixed-use buildings are currently rising, as well as employment centers and grocery stores in the corridor, its proximity to Thomas Jefferson High School and Mary Munford Elementary, and plans for a new Pulse station at Broad and Malvern Avenue.
The corridor’s positioning between Scott’s Addition and Willow Lawn also has drawn interest in adjacent residential neighborhoods, where builders have been fitting in new homes and rehabbing older ones.
The corridor’s proximity to established residential neighborhoods has drawn opposition to other Pulse-driven zoning changes, such as recent proposals for areas across Broad from the Fan District that the city ended up withdrawing late last year.
Addison said he expects his proposal could face similar opposition, but he’s optimistic. In addition to encouraging infrastructure improvements that would enhance the area’s walkability, he said the change would also eliminate the need for case-by-case reviews of development requests that otherwise would require special-use permit approvals.
“Usually rezonings are met with a lot of neighborhood opposition, and I expect some, because there are traffic concerns along Westmoreland Street, especially between Broad and Monument,” Addison said. “I’ve put in a lot of traffic-calming efforts in those areas, and I think people see this as a way of potentially increasing that (traffic).
“But to counter that, I also see the ability of improving the infrastructure — provide more curb-and-gutter sidewalks, traffic calming impacts around this area — because we have to,” he said. “That’s going to be the expectation of what’s built along the Broad Street corridor, where we need to make sure that the neighborhood is walkable, safe, and well-trafficked with managed speeds.”
Kevin Vonck, the city’s acting planning director since previous director Mark Olinger’s abrupt departure in January, said he’s supportive of Addison’s approach to the proposal.
“I think it’s something we should definitely investigate and explore. It’s always a little bit tricky when we talk about our border areas with neighboring (localities), but it’s a gateway to the city,” Vonck said. “The timing is good because we’re discussing a number of adjacent large tracts, and it’s important that we look at neighborhoods and broader areas as a whole.”
As for the zoning changes north of the Fan that were put on hold in December, Vonck said the planning department is working on alternative proposals that it plans to present to the Planning Commission and City Council in coming weeks.
He said those proposals could include TOD zoning that he said could serve as a better transition between the commercial and residential areas.
“It’s a tough area because you have one of our more major streets, and then a block away, a well-developed residential area,” he said. “Part of the conversation is how do we get that density and intensity, but in the same way, really respect the historic residential character.”