Just days after establishing its first sports and entertainment authority, Henrico County marked the start of vertical construction on its long-sought sports and events center at Virginia Center Commons, where a second hotel could also be in the works.
County officials gathered Monday beside the site of the forthcoming Henrico Sports and Events Center, where the first of 109 tilt panels – each weighing more than 100,000 pounds – were being erected and placed to form the 185,000-square-foot steel-and-concrete structure.
The placements, by general contracting firm EDC, signal the beginning of vertical construction for the $50 million arena, which is scheduled to open in about a year. The 4,500-seat facility is envisioned to host indoor sports events, high school graduations, small concerts and community events.
Site work got going at the start of this year and included setting the concrete for the tilt panels on-site. Work depended on the arrival of the panel’s steel beams, which arrived 18 months after they were ordered due to supply chain challenges, officials said.
The facility will feature 115,000 square feet of playable space, with 12 basketball courts that can be converted to 24 volleyball courts. The indoor courts are intended primarily for those sports, though the space is being designed to also accommodate other sports such as gymnastics, wrestling, futsal and pickleball.
The center will also be able to accommodate a concert and basketball event simultaneously, said Dennis Bickmeier, executive director of the newly formed Henrico Sports & Entertainment Authority, whose responsibilities include management of the new arena. The authority was officially formed last week with a final vote of approval by county supervisors.
Joining the officials Monday was Rob Hargett, principal of developer Rebkee Co., which is guiding the redevelopment of the suburban indoor mall into an urban-style mixed-use village.
Hargett said the project has been slow-going due to supply chain issues and economic considerations. Work started in earnest in early 2021 with the razing of the former Macy’s store at the mall’s eastern end, where collaborator Shamin Hotels is planning what’s now envisioned as one of potentially two hotels that would anchor the new development.
CEO Neil Amin confirmed Monday that a second hotel is being considered for the site, where Shamin also is planning two restaurants. Amin said the second hotel could total as many as 114 rooms if that plan goes forward. The initial hotel is planned for 111 rooms.
Construction of the first hotel would follow the arena, with the rest of the site filling out after that. Amin said the hotel is in the design phase, and he said the restaurants would be determined as the project progresses.
Hargett said demolition of the rest of the mall is scheduled to start in November. The demolition will include the mall’s food court, which at one time had been planned to be retained as a central amenity. Hargett said plans for the project’s residential components made it unfeasible to keep the food court.
Hargett said Stanley Martin Homes is awaiting development plan approval for its initial batch of 75 townhomes on a 5-acre site between the mall and Brook Road. He said plans for the mall site include 325 two-over-two condos, 500 apartments and some retail space. He said a second phase involving about 5 acres nearby would include income-based housing options.