A shuttered elementary school in southern Chesterfield is being eyed for a residential redevelopment.
During a community meeting held this week, Chesterfield officials pitched a conceptual plan for the former Matoaca Elementary School that includes apartments for seniors and single-family homes. The school closed in spring 2021.
The vision floated by the county would see the school building itself redeveloped into apartments, some or all of which could be limited to seniors, as well as a community space fashioned out of the gym. The conceptual plan also suggests the property’s Jackson Street frontage be divided into eight to 10 lots for single-family homes.
“We are considering reusing the (school) building for senior housing. There’s space for about 30 to 36 apartments in there. … We want to add some improvements to the park space and we want to add some additional housing in the back as well as having a community space,” said Nicholas Feucht, Chesterfield’s real estate development and housing coordinator, during the meeting.
Officials said the proposed reuse plan is just an idea at this point, one that will be subject to further public comment and will likely take several years to bring to fruition.
The project site consists of about 11 acres split across four county-owned parcels. The 52,000-square-foot school is situated on a 7.4-acre parcel at 6627 River Road.
The redevelopment of the school is expected to preserve historic elements of the school building, the oldest part of which dates to the late 1930s. The school closed in spring 2021.
Feucht likened the county’s vision for the elementary school to other school redevelopment projects in the state such as the Highland Park Public School redevelopment in Richmond.
County officials said there’s a lack of housing catered to seniors in the Matoaca area and that the project could help address that shortage, and thereby also help spur the arrival of young families to the area.
“Some of the older people in the community might say, ‘I’m going to sell my house and move into those apartments.’ A young family might move into that house and bring kids. And that brings youth back into the community,” Supervisor Kevin Carroll said at the meeting. “The schools with the most capacity available in Chesterfield County are down here.”
The county would sell the land to project developers should it pursue the vision as it stands now, County Administrator Joe Casey said in a brief interview after the Wednesday evening presentation, which was held at the new Matoaca Elementary School. The new school opened in fall 2020 at 20300 Halloway Ave., about 2 miles from the old school.
The expectation is that the single-family homes would be built by a nonprofit homebuilder and be geared toward first-time homebuyers. Casey said there have been conversations about the project between Chesterfield and the nonprofit Maggie Walker Community Land Trust.
The entire four-parcel assemblage has an assessed value of about $3.1 million, per online county land records.
Chesterfield held community discussions about the old Matoaca Elementary School’s future in 2019, and Wednesday’s meeting represented the county’s first public engagement related to the topic since then. In those initial meetings, redevelopment and reuse as a government facility like a police station or offices were among the ideas at the time.
No strong criticisms of the county’s latest pitch were voiced during the meeting by the more than two dozen people who attended.
In another project that involves a former school site, the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust and Lynx Ventures are planning a 255-unit residential development on the site currently home to the old Oak Grove Elementary School in South Richmond.