The Southside stretch of Forest Hill Avenue near its intersection with Westover Hills Boulevard continues to evolve with a new mixed-use project in the works to replace an aging, largely empty retail strip.
Local developers Michael Plotkin and Nolen Blackwood have filed plans for a three-story building that would rise on the current Westover Place shopping center site at 5069 Forest Hill Ave.
Plans call for a 30,000-square-foot structure with 30 apartments above a 7,800-square-foot ground floor commercial space, with 47 total surface parking spots around the building.
The site is across Forest Hill Avenue from Hill Standard, a separate mixed-use project that was completed last year with 16 apartments and commercial tenants such as Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Co. and The Veil Brewing Co.
The existing 13,500-square-foot Westover Place dates back to the 1980s, Plotkin said, and in recent years many of its longtime tenants have moved out, including Stories Comics and Act I Hair Design.
Plotkin, whose family has owned the land since the 1940s, said he and Blackwood looked at the option of preserving the building but decided the most efficient approach would be to raze it and build anew.
“It’s a traditional retail shopping center from back in the day. It’s an older building and there’s really no way to keep it,” Plotkin said. “It’d be like surgery to try to repurpose it.”
Plotkin said he and Blackwood are under contract to purchase the property through a separate entity. Blackwood, through his family’s namesake development firm, has projects all over the region, including Winterfield Crossing in Chesterfield, The Eclipse in the Fan and the forthcoming Caravati’s renovation in Manchester.
Plotkin said they’re hoping to begin demolition in early 2022, after which a year-long buildout would take place. The project cost hasn’t yet been determined.
Lory Markham with Markham Planning is serving as a planning consultant. Walter Parks Architects is designing the project. Parker Design Group is the civil engineer. Plotkin said they haven’t yet selected a general contractor.
The new apartments are currently planned to be one-bedroom units and rent at market rates, and Plotkin said he could see a restaurant, small gym or hair salon doing well in the commercial space.
This project isn’t the first time the Plotkin and Blackwood families have worked together in real estate.
“My grandfather actually knew Nolen’s father Willis when they were working for Safeway in their real estate department,” Plotkin said. “There was a mutual respect between my grandfather and Nolen’s dad. We wanted to continue that relationship.”