The development firm behind Brandermill and Woodlake in Chesterfield County is eyeing eastern Henrico for its next large-scale residential community.
Midlothian-based East West Communities is planning a 1,000-home development on roughly 250 acres of farmland just east of Pocahontas Parkway where it crosses Route 5 in Varina.
The developer, whose other communities in the area include Hallsley, Hampton Park and River’s Bend on the James, is proposing a mix of houses, townhomes and potentially condominiums on the bulk of the Varina site, which straddles Willson Road north of its intersection with Route 5.
Called Arcadia, the development would be split into two sections: Arcadia West, between the parkway and Willson Road; and Arcadia East across Willson, which would connect the two. Arcadia West would include a clubhouse with pool and the bulk of the townhomes and condos, while Arcadia East would consist more of single-family houses with some townhomes surrounding a central park area.
The park is envisioned to potentially be used as an urban farm or community garden, and environmentally sensitive areas on the site would make up 80-plus acres of open and recreational space that would connect to the Virginia Capital Trail, the bike and pedestrian trail that runs along Route 5.
The project appears to be East West’s first in Henrico. Along with its aforementioned developments in Chesterfield County, the firm also developed Giles in Hanover County and Patriots Landing in New Kent. In 2019, it proposed a 250-home project in eastern Powhatan that was snubbed by that county’s Board of Supervisors.
For Arcadia, East West is seeking Henrico County approval to rezone 11 parcels that make up the 253-acre site, referred to in documents as Nelson Farm. Existing homes on the parcels would be removed.
The parcels are owned by members or trustees of the Nelson and Gottwald families, property records show. They’re assessed by Henrico at just over $1.5 million collectively.
The rezoning would change the land’s use designation from agricultural to SMX-PD, or Suburban Residential Mixed Planned Development District, a newer zoning designation that Henrico introduced last year and functions similarly to its Urban Mixed-Use district.
In a staff report, county planners recommend approving the request, contingent on the Virginia Department of Transportation completing its review of a submitted traffic impact analysis.
That analysis, completed for East West by engineering firm Kimley-Horn, suggests various roadway improvements to support the project along Willson, which would provide primary access to both halves of the development. An additional access road for Arcadia East would connect with Route 5 across from St. James Baptist Church.
Connections to the Capital Trail are planned there, and at the westernmost edge of the site across from the Varina Area Library. East West’s application notes the trail would provide residents with access to downtown Richmond and other areas.
The application includes a pattern book that describes Arcadia and how it would be developed, as well as architectural styles, design approaches and aesthetics. The development is described as following an urban village approach, in which suburban neighborhoods are formed around denser development.
Arcadia would consist of 450 houses and 358 townhomes, with the remainder of the units made up of either condos or more townhomes or houses. No more than 190 condos would be allowed, and no apartments are proposed.
If built, the condo buildings would range from three to four stories and be positioned closest to Pocahontas Parkway, with two- to three-story townhomes providing a transition to the single-family homes in Arcadia East and surrounding the clubhouse.
Architectural styles for the houses would include Arts & Crafts, Classical, Contemporary and European Romantic, with floorplans ranging upwards from 900 square feet in size. The condos would range from 900 to 1,000 square feet and include one-, two- and three-bedroom floorplans. The townhomes would start at 1,200 square feet.
A 50-foot landscape buffer is planned around the development, along with a 500-foot setback off Route 5. Open and recreational space would make up one-third of the development and include pocket parks, landscaping and a greenbelt mews or walkway. Sidewalks and streetlights also are planned.
The documents do not indicate a development schedule or price points for the homes. Representatives for East West could not be reached for comment Monday.
According to its website, East West’s communities range in home prices from $200,000 for townhomes at Patriots Landing to over $1 million for the pricier houses in Hallsley.
Arcadia is one of the larger residential developments to be proposed in Henrico in recent years. In February, Markel | Eagle Partners received county approval for Avenlea, a 1,600-home development with a mixed-use commercial component on land near Short Pump, in Henrico’s western end.
East West’s proposal comes a year after another large-scale proposal in Varina was withdrawn. Homebuilder D.R. Horton withdrew a plan to build 770 homes on 420 acres about two miles east of the Route 5/Interstate 295 interchange.
The Arcadia property is across Pocahontas Parkway from the site of a planned industrial warehouse near Varina High School. New York-based Ashley Capital purchased the land for that project after securing approvals earlier this year.
The Henrico Planning Commission is scheduled to consider Arcadia at its Dec. 15 meeting, the agenda for which is almost solely dedicated to the case.