Henrico approves arena-anchored GreenCity, Innsbrook mixed-use plans

A conceptual rendering shows the arena in relation to other buildings in the proposed GreenCity mixed-use development. (BizSense file images)

Two notable mixed-use projects that have been months in the making have met the approval of Henrico County supervisors.

At its meeting Tuesday night, the board voted unanimously to rezone land for the arena-anchored GreenCity project, as well as for Highwoods Properties’ plan to develop 34 acres in the northwest corner of Innsbrook.

Both approvals were made with minimal comment from the board and no opposition from the public in related hearings. The zoning changes set the stage for both projects to proceed.

The GreenCity approval comes less than a year since county officials and the developers announced the $2.3 billion plan last December — a striking contrast to the years-long, ultimately unsuccessful Navy Hill proposal in Richmond that also centered on a new arena for the region.

The development team behind GreenCity — Michael Hallmark of Future Cities and Susan Eastridge of Concord Eastridge — also worked on Navy Hill, which would have replaced the aging Richmond Coliseum with a new facility and a larger mixed-use development.

With the Coliseum now shuttered, GreenCity’s $250 million, 17,000-seat arena is lined up to be the next larger-scale sports and entertainment venue in the region.

A site plan of the GreenCity project.

The development would fill 204 acres generally northeast of the Interstate 95 and Parham Road interchange, including the county-owned, 93-acre former Best Products site, which would be repurposed as part of the project.

In addition to the arena, the project would include two 300-room hotels, 2.2 million square feet of office space, 280,000 square feet of retail, green space, and more than 2,000 residential units.

The Planning Commission endorsed the plan last month, though a required traffic impact analysis (TIA) remained under review by county and state transportation officials. County planners said Tuesday that the review had been completed and they supported the developers’ proffered plan to mitigate traffic impacts caused by the development.

Access to the site also would be provided via five entrances off a planned extension of Magellan Parkway, which would bisect the site and run across I-95 via a new bridge. A county staff report said analysis of the TIA indicated several improvements would be needed along East Parham Road, including additional traffic signals and turn lanes.

The arena, the first hotel and other initial pieces are targeted for completion in 2025, with full buildout anticipated in 2033 or 2034.

Since the Planning Commission meeting, the developers agreed to add a restriction on hours of construction to between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Prior to the vote, Supervisor Frank Thornton, whose Fairfield District includes the site, lauded the cooperation of residents with homes in the vicinity.

Board Chairman Dan Schmitt also stressed that the county would look to minimize impacts on existing residents throughout the course of the project.

“I’m going to encourage the applicant to be real careful with traffic management, because it’s important for our residents,” Schmitt said.

Andy Condlin with Roth Jackson Gibbons Condlin represented GreenCity.

A conceptual rendering of the Highwoods Properties site in Innsbrook, facing westward.

Innsbrook mixed-use plan approved

After deferring a vote at a meeting last month, supervisors approved Highwoods Properties’ proposal to develop 34 acres at Innsbrook’s northern entrance at Nuckols Road and Interstate 295.

Tweaked since it was submitted earlier this year, the plan calls for a total of 700 residential units, a 150-room hotel, 51,500 square feet of commercial space and 200,000 square feet of office space.

The breakdown of the residential units would depend on which of three concept plan options is pursued. One option would have all 700 as apartments, while another scenario would consist of 600 apartments, 50 standalone condos, and 50 condos that would be part of the hotel.

Sixty percent of the multifamily units would be one-bedroom units, with no three-bedroom units to lessen impacts on county schools. The 50 standalone condos would be “two-over-two” styles, meaning two-floor units above two-floor units.

A rendering shows the variety of uses envisioned for the 34-acre development.

Having previously voiced concerns about the project’s impacts on traffic, county planners said they were now supportive of the plan, which had been phased to mitigate impacts according to a proffered traffic improvement plan.

Prior to the vote, Three Chopt Commissioner Thomas Branin asked for a complete restriction on retail businesses selling items such as e-cigarettes, CBD, and hemp-related products.

Highwoods had proffered a 50 percent restriction based on conversations with county staff, with the goal of restricting businesses that primarily sell such items.

Highwoods’ attorney, Preston Lloyd with Williams Mullen, agreed to the full restriction.

The largely undeveloped site includes the Innsbrook After Hours concert venue and the Elks Lodge property, which Highwoods purchased last year, completing the assemblage. The property is catty corner across Nuckols Road from a site sold last month for Silver Hills at Innsbrook, a planned 234-unit apartment complex. Highwoods was part of the group that sold the plot to buyer Silver Hills Development.

Note: Preston Lloyd represented Highwoods Properties in its case. An earlier version of this story had his name in the wrong order.

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Julian Utley
Julian Utley
1 month ago

What is meant by “next larger-scale sports and entertainment venue in the region”? If they are referring to within the state, it very well may be. It would be slightly larger than Charlottesville’s John Paul Jones arena at 14,593 seats. However, if they are referring to a region like the mid-Atlantic, then no. The seating capacity of other mid-Atlantic arenas include: Charlotte’s Spectrum – 20,200, Greensboro Coliseum – 23,500, Atlanta’s State Farm Arena – 21,000. Can GreenCity’s arena compete against other venues in the mid-Atlantic region to attract major events. However, that may not be GreenCity’s goal with this arena.

Brian Glass
Brian Glass
1 month ago

I love the GreenCity plan with one caveat. Will the marketplace be able to absorb the proposed 2.2 million square feet of office space?

In my opinion the only way that that can take place is with corporate relocations from elsewhere, after companies rethink their office requirements based on the results of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
1 month ago

“Prior to the vote, Three Chopt Commissioner Thomas Branin asked for a complete restriction on retail businesses selling items such as e-cigarettes, CBD, and hemp-related products.”

So—that is so random, why does Commissioner Thomas Branin not want those products sold in the new Innsbrook area?

Garry Whelan
Garry Whelan
1 month ago

I’m looking forward to how a semi-GreenCity concept is executed completely around the car.It will be a master class in weasely-wording and headline-grabbing green bling where necessary.

1 month ago

Kudos to the Supervisors and County Manager of Henrico to support such visionary projects for our county. Very exciting!