500 apartments approved for Virginia Center Commons’ JCPenney site

A rendering of the apartments proposed at Virginia Center Commons. (Courtesy of Poole & Poole Architecture)

Another piece in the puzzle of the planned redevelopment of Virginia Center Commons has been put into place, with hundreds of apartments replacing one of the former shopping mall’s anchor department stores.

Henrico supervisors have approved plans for as many as 500 apartments to be built on the site of the recently closed JCPenney store, which developers Rebkee Co. and Shamin Hotels added to their assemblage of properties there earlier this year.

The apartments would fill four buildings that would rise on the 7-acre parcel that currently houses the store building and parking lot. Sample elevations included with the plans show the new buildings would rise four stories.

The apartments would fill four four-story buildings. (Courtesy of Henrico County)

Sixty percent of the units would be studios and one-bedrooms, while 40 percent would consist of two- and three-bedroom floorplans. The plans do not detail the units’ square footages or rental ranges.

In an interview in January, after Rebkee and Shamin purchased the JCPenney property for $3 million, Rebkee principal Rob Hargett said he would like to see the overall development include as many as 300 income-based units, including for households making below 80 percent of the area median income.

In addition to the apartments, plans for VCC call for a mix of residential and retail, including townhomes. An initial batch of 75 townhomes from Stanley Martin Homes is in the works for a 5-acre site between the mall and Brook Road, with plans for three-story units priced in the high $200,000s.

Sample elevations of the apartments. (Courtesy of Poole & Poole Architecture)

Following several months of planning, including a charrette with the county, Rebkee and Shamin commenced in January with razing parts of the 30-year-old mall. They began with the former Macy’s store on its eastern end. The separately owned JCPenney store remained open for several months following their purchase.

Also planned for the site is a hotel from Shamin, and an indoor sports and convocation center for Henrico. The different components are envisioned to form an urban-style mixed-use village, with the mall’s food court structure integrated into it as a central, open-air gathering area.

The apartment buildings would be designed as a complex that would include community amenities. Renderings with the plans show a pool and courtyard with various outdoor gathering areas.

A rendering shows the apartment buildings in relation to planned townhomes to the left and the arena to the right. (Courtesy of Henrico County)

Poole & Poole Architecture is designing the apartments, and engineering firm Koontz Bryant Johnson Williams drew up site plans. Downtown law firm Hirschler represented Rebkee and Shamin in their rezoning and provisional-use permit requests, which county supervisors approved at their meeting last week.

Meanwhile, plans have yet to be filed for another JCPenney store slated for redevelopment elsewhere in Henrico.

Rebkee, which also is redeveloping the former Regency mall in Henrico with Thalhimer Realty Partners, has yet to say what they’re planning for that location, which the firms purchased for $3.1 million late last year.

That store closed as part of the retailer’s bankruptcy restructuring in response to the pandemic and the parcel is likewise set to be included in that mall’s redevelopment, which includes apartments under construction on the site of the former Sears. An indoor trampoline park and a NOVA Aquatics facility are planned for parts of Regency’s former Macy’s buildings.

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