Better Housing Coalition breaks ground on $45M addition to Winchester Greens campus

Winchester Forest will consist of 160 garden-style apartments in nine two- and three-story buildings. (Images courtesy of Better Housing Coalition)

After navigating the project through the ups and downs of the pandemic, a local housing nonprofit is starting construction on its latest development in the Southside for lower-income renters.

Better Housing Coalition is holding a ceremony today to break ground on Winchester Forest, a $45 million addition to its 60-acre Winchester Greens campus in northeast Chesterfield County.

The nine garden-style apartment buildings will house 160 units targeted to families with annual incomes of between 40-60 percent of the area median income, or those earning between $40,480 and $60,420 for a family of four. Monthly rents are expected to range between $650 and $1,150 for one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

A site plan shows the layout for the nine-building complex along Drewrys Bluff Road to the north and with connections to Winchester Greens to the south.

The two- and three-story buildings will rise in two phases on about 16.5 acres at 2701 and 2739 Drewrys Bluff Road, just west of Route 1 and northwest of Winchester Greens, which totals 240 multifamily and 234 senior units across four rental communities.

CEO Greta Harris said BHC had owned the land for some time as part of its Winchester Greens campus, which will be linked with Winchester Forest.

Ownership of the two parcels were transferred to an LLC tied to the nonprofit in a Sept. 1 transaction that totaled $750,000, property records show. Chesterfield County had assessed the parcels at $1 million combined.

Greta Harris

Harris called Winchester Forest one of BHC’s “COVID babies” that she said got caught up with supply chain issues and cost increases fueled by the pandemic.

Having been awarded a low-income housing tax credit for the project in 2020, Harris said, “It then became such a frustrating feat, because every time we thought we had costs nailed down, the (number) kept moving because of supply chain issues and health concerns during the pandemic.”

“We thought we had a number in mind and we’d go out and try to fill the number, and then the number would move,” she said. “It would take us several months to try to identify sources and secure them, and by then our contractor would say the sub numbers have moved again. It has been a dance, and I am so incredibly proud of our staff for sticking with it to get us across the construction closing finish line.”

UrbanCore Construction is building Winchester Forest, and Arnold Design Studio is the project architect. Timmons Group provided engineering work, and funding primarily came from Virginia Housing, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, the Federal Home Loan Bank and Chesterfield County.

Completion is anticipated in the third quarter of 2023.

Winchester Forest adds to a busy workload for BHC, which is planning a 166-unit development farther south on Route 1 at the site of the former Colbrook Motel property in Chester. It’s also developing a 67-unit apartment building in Jackson Ward that’s filling the city block bordered by Cameo, Jackson, Price and Duval streets.

Earlier this month, BHC and Virginia Supportive Housing called off a planned merger that had been slated to take effect early next year.

Winchester Forest will consist of 160 garden-style apartments in nine two- and three-story buildings. (Images courtesy of Better Housing Coalition)

After navigating the project through the ups and downs of the pandemic, a local housing nonprofit is starting construction on its latest development in the Southside for lower-income renters.

Better Housing Coalition is holding a ceremony today to break ground on Winchester Forest, a $45 million addition to its 60-acre Winchester Greens campus in northeast Chesterfield County.

The nine garden-style apartment buildings will house 160 units targeted to families with annual incomes of between 40-60 percent of the area median income, or those earning between $40,480 and $60,420 for a family of four. Monthly rents are expected to range between $650 and $1,150 for one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

A site plan shows the layout for the nine-building complex along Drewrys Bluff Road to the north and with connections to Winchester Greens to the south.

The two- and three-story buildings will rise in two phases on about 16.5 acres at 2701 and 2739 Drewrys Bluff Road, just west of Route 1 and northwest of Winchester Greens, which totals 240 multifamily and 234 senior units across four rental communities.

CEO Greta Harris said BHC had owned the land for some time as part of its Winchester Greens campus, which will be linked with Winchester Forest.

Ownership of the two parcels were transferred to an LLC tied to the nonprofit in a Sept. 1 transaction that totaled $750,000, property records show. Chesterfield County had assessed the parcels at $1 million combined.

Greta Harris

Harris called Winchester Forest one of BHC’s “COVID babies” that she said got caught up with supply chain issues and cost increases fueled by the pandemic.

Having been awarded a low-income housing tax credit for the project in 2020, Harris said, “It then became such a frustrating feat, because every time we thought we had costs nailed down, the (number) kept moving because of supply chain issues and health concerns during the pandemic.”

“We thought we had a number in mind and we’d go out and try to fill the number, and then the number would move,” she said. “It would take us several months to try to identify sources and secure them, and by then our contractor would say the sub numbers have moved again. It has been a dance, and I am so incredibly proud of our staff for sticking with it to get us across the construction closing finish line.”

UrbanCore Construction is building Winchester Forest, and Arnold Design Studio is the project architect. Timmons Group provided engineering work, and funding primarily came from Virginia Housing, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, the Federal Home Loan Bank and Chesterfield County.

Completion is anticipated in the third quarter of 2023.

Winchester Forest adds to a busy workload for BHC, which is planning a 166-unit development farther south on Route 1 at the site of the former Colbrook Motel property in Chester. It’s also developing a 67-unit apartment building in Jackson Ward that’s filling the city block bordered by Cameo, Jackson, Price and Duval streets.

Earlier this month, BHC and Virginia Supportive Housing called off a planned merger that had been slated to take effect early next year.

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