Sauer Properties planning to add apartments to Midlothian shopping center

stein mart festival center sauer scaled

As part of a proposed residential development project, the former A.C. Moore craft store at 9744 Midlothian Turnpike would be torn down. (Jack Jacobs photo)

Sauer Properties, after losing the namesake retailer at one of its local shopping centers, is turning to residential redevelopment as a means to inject new life into the property.

The Richmond-based landlord and developer is seeking zoning approval to add up to 350 apartments to the shopping center formerly called Stein Mart Festival, which is near the intersection of Midlothian Turnpike and Robious Road.

The project also would include new greenspace and improvements to retail storefronts at the roughly 183,000-square-foot center. Also proposed are new walkways for pedestrians.

The project is intended to revitalize the center by transitioning it into a mixed-use development. While the center’s small retailers have done well, stores with larger footprints haven’t fared as well, said Marshall French, director of real estate development and construction for Sauer. He added that finding replacement tenants also has been a challenge.

“Big-box retail is moving away from that area and we’ve been struggling to fill the big-box spaces,” he said.

The apartments would take the form of three four-story buildings.

One would rise where a mostly empty 90,000-square-foot strip stands. That section at the back of the center had once been home to a Stein Mart at 9746 Midlothian Turnpike that closed in 2020, as well as craft store A.C. Moore. The only current long-term tenant in that strip is the Marshalls store.

The site of another apartment building will be carved out of the parking lot in front of the former Stein Mart.

A third apartment building would be built on the site of the retail shops near the center’s T-Mobile store. A portion of that retail strip would be revamped to house a leasing center for the apartments.

The proposed redevelopment project would ultimately leave the center with about 67,500 square feet of commercial space, based on its leasing flyer.

site plan stein mart festival sauer

Sauer Properties is seeking zoning approval to add up to 350 apartments to the Stein Mart Festival shopping center. (Image courtesy of Sauer Properties)

The apartments are intended to be “workforce” housing, and among the proffers is a requirement that no more than 10 percent of total apartments could be three-bedroom units.

“We are looking at options for affordable workforce housing in this area. They’ll be nice units but the intent is to support diverse housing options,” French said.

The zoning request needed to set the stage for the project is slated to be heard by the Chesterfield County Planning Commission later this month. The commission will vote on whether to recommend that the Board of Supervisors provide final zoning approval at a future meeting.

Sauer doesn’t expect to break ground on the project this year, French said.

He declined to share a cost estimate for the redevelopment. Sauer hasn’t yet tapped a general contractor or architecture firm for the project.

The project is expected to be built in phases, starting with the rearward retail strip demolition and development of the apartment building slated for that site.

Other tenants at the center include Padow’s Hams & Deli, clothing store Plato’s Closet and music store Music & Arts.

Sauer’s other retail properties in the region include the Whole Foods-anchored Sauer Center in the city, Cary Court in Carytown and Willow Place shopping center, which is undergoing a major revamp for tenants like Shake Shack, HomeGoods and a mystery grocer.

The firm also has other mixed-use projects in the works, including a plan to convert 93 acres near Virginia Center Commons into industrial, office, retail and 780 residential units, including apartments and for-sale townhomes and condos.

stein mart festival center sauer scaled

As part of a proposed residential development project, the former A.C. Moore craft store at 9744 Midlothian Turnpike would be torn down. (Jack Jacobs photo)

Sauer Properties, after losing the namesake retailer at one of its local shopping centers, is turning to residential redevelopment as a means to inject new life into the property.

The Richmond-based landlord and developer is seeking zoning approval to add up to 350 apartments to the shopping center formerly called Stein Mart Festival, which is near the intersection of Midlothian Turnpike and Robious Road.

The project also would include new greenspace and improvements to retail storefronts at the roughly 183,000-square-foot center. Also proposed are new walkways for pedestrians.

The project is intended to revitalize the center by transitioning it into a mixed-use development. While the center’s small retailers have done well, stores with larger footprints haven’t fared as well, said Marshall French, director of real estate development and construction for Sauer. He added that finding replacement tenants also has been a challenge.

“Big-box retail is moving away from that area and we’ve been struggling to fill the big-box spaces,” he said.

The apartments would take the form of three four-story buildings.

One would rise where a mostly empty 90,000-square-foot strip stands. That section at the back of the center had once been home to a Stein Mart at 9746 Midlothian Turnpike that closed in 2020, as well as craft store A.C. Moore. The only current long-term tenant in that strip is the Marshalls store.

The site of another apartment building will be carved out of the parking lot in front of the former Stein Mart.

A third apartment building would be built on the site of the retail shops near the center’s T-Mobile store. A portion of that retail strip would be revamped to house a leasing center for the apartments.

The proposed redevelopment project would ultimately leave the center with about 67,500 square feet of commercial space, based on its leasing flyer.

site plan stein mart festival sauer

Sauer Properties is seeking zoning approval to add up to 350 apartments to the Stein Mart Festival shopping center. (Image courtesy of Sauer Properties)

The apartments are intended to be “workforce” housing, and among the proffers is a requirement that no more than 10 percent of total apartments could be three-bedroom units.

“We are looking at options for affordable workforce housing in this area. They’ll be nice units but the intent is to support diverse housing options,” French said.

The zoning request needed to set the stage for the project is slated to be heard by the Chesterfield County Planning Commission later this month. The commission will vote on whether to recommend that the Board of Supervisors provide final zoning approval at a future meeting.

Sauer doesn’t expect to break ground on the project this year, French said.

He declined to share a cost estimate for the redevelopment. Sauer hasn’t yet tapped a general contractor or architecture firm for the project.

The project is expected to be built in phases, starting with the rearward retail strip demolition and development of the apartment building slated for that site.

Other tenants at the center include Padow’s Hams & Deli, clothing store Plato’s Closet and music store Music & Arts.

Sauer’s other retail properties in the region include the Whole Foods-anchored Sauer Center in the city, Cary Court in Carytown and Willow Place shopping center, which is undergoing a major revamp for tenants like Shake Shack, HomeGoods and a mystery grocer.

The firm also has other mixed-use projects in the works, including a plan to convert 93 acres near Virginia Center Commons into industrial, office, retail and 780 residential units, including apartments and for-sale townhomes and condos.

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Carl Schwendeman
Carl Schwendeman
1 year ago

This project needs to have a wide sidewalk along Route 60 in that the cocept plan shows no sidewalk dispite this area being in Chesterfeild County’s job ten sidewalk projects list.

But this is the kind of project that we need that turns empty shopping malls into housing.

roger turner
roger turner
1 year ago

Carl – I saw this online the other day and I thought immediately about you and your passion for sidewalks. “The cost is being split 50-50 with the state. Tuckahoe District Supervisor Pat O’Bannon noted that this was a relatively inexpensive project, given that the average cost for new sidewalk was $750 per foot. Director of Public Works Terrell Hughes responded that sidewalks where curb gutters already exist cost about $2 million per mile, while those without existing curb gutters ran about $6 million to $8 million per mile because of the additional drainage work.” Just thought it might be… Read more »

Carl Schwendeman
Carl Schwendeman
1 year ago
Reply to  roger turner

I was in Norway and the Baltic States and they have some really insane sized sidewalks such as they have a 6 foot wide sidewalk and a 10 foot wide bike path built on to each side of the road fully separated from traffic. And they not at all shy about having 18 foot wide sidewalks on both sides of two lane wide streets. Also even super rural areas with less then 20 homes will have two to three long mile sidewalks running though very rural locations. Also a lot of these places don’t seem to have the wealth or… Read more »

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 year ago

OMG “I was in [Northern european country/Japan] and…”

Yes, small wealth homogeneous highly urban-weighted countries do things a little differently. We are aware of this.

I am not anti-sidewalk. I like them in some places, but in some places they are just another part of a blasted urban jungle — hot, bright and hard, but even there I guess I would like one if I HAD to walk.

“Beachhead for sidewalk” — that’s pretty funny, you are in a War!

Here’s To You, Sidewalk Warrior — maybe some day we will be Denmark or Japan.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 year ago
Reply to  roger turner

Carl has a “passion for sidewalks’, eh? That’s interesting. I guess I have maybe a passion for dedicated bike paths, or at least protected bike lanes, but it doesn’t get me out of bed in the morning — and I certainly don’t want them EVERYWHERE. I really just want them in downtowns and dense urban areas like the FAN, etc. I think your nuance here adds to the discussion — when people get to add-on their wishes when they are neither the builder or the resident, things can get prohibitively expensive FAST, and in places where housing is NEEDED, that… Read more »

William Willis
William Willis
1 year ago

I am more interested in seeing what Sauer Properties is going to do with phase 2 of The Sauer Center Between N Meadows/Hermitage Rd, N Allen Ave, Broad St and Leigh St.

Alex King
Alex King
1 year ago
Reply to  William Willis

Right. I would rather them spend the money to clean up the old Sears building. What an eyesore. How does the City allow that?

Michael Morgan-Dodson
Michael Morgan-Dodson
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex King

That old Sears building is an active factory/packing plant for Sauers Foods. Eventually, Sauers will move all operations off that site, probably out of the city, and we will see redevelopment.

A few years ago they did fix up the façade of the old Sears building including redoing the overhangs with new, stainless wrappings, updated “infill” in the old display windows, and other improvements. But they have been vandalized and I bet just just don’t feel the need to continue to invest in an exterior cosmetic facade of that building that will soon see major redevelopment.

Last edited 1 year ago by Michael Morgan-Dodson
Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 year ago

Thank you for clearing this up.

Stephen Weisensale
Stephen Weisensale
11 months ago
Reply to  Alex King

Sauers no longer owns the spice product business. They sold it several years ago, but I believe they still own the building according to their city parcel mapper. They are a property development company now.

Last edited 11 months ago by Stephen Weisensale
Tom Reagan
Tom Reagan
1 year ago

What is the reasoning behind limiting 3-bedroom apartments? We need more housing that can support families.

Martha Lee
Martha Lee
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom Reagan

Could it be school overcrowding? We absolutely need more housing to support families, but not unless there are teachers and buildings in place to support them.

Hassan Leroux
Hassan Leroux
1 year ago
Reply to  Martha Lee

So families suffer because the county cant support them? Where do you suggest the families go if potentially everyone has your mindset? Should they wait, homeless, until the county hires more teachers?

Kate McCarthy
Kate McCarthy
1 year ago
Reply to  Hassan Leroux

My grandson’s former elementary school in Chesterfield County was operating at over 150% capacity. They can’t build schools fast enough to support the growth. There were mega trailers on the property, and severe overcrowding. The county needs to seriously consider the implications of adding all of these apartment and condo developments before issuing building permits.

Martha Lee
Martha Lee
1 year ago
Reply to  Kate McCarthy

Absolutely.

Hassan Leroux
Hassan Leroux
1 year ago
Reply to  Martha Lee

“They can’t build enough to support the growth” Who’s fault is that? The would be residents? “Overcrowding”, especially in Chesterfield county, can be seen as a dog whistle for “they are messing up our diversity ratio” and its too many others in our school now. Trailers outside didn’t hinder the quality of the education did it?

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 year ago
Reply to  Hassan Leroux

How is it that only leftists can “hear” racist dog whistles? Doesn’t that imply something since only dogs can hear the whistle?

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 year ago
Reply to  Kate McCarthy

Interesting that you cite this as occuring. I am not surprised. I remember some years ago in Chester Thomas Dale was out of space and they annexed the nearby middle school to house the 9th grade, which got a lot protest from the residents, but being on such muni boards and such means “making hard decisions” and that is a big part of doing your job well — sometimes making NO ONE happy which is way Staunton, VA created the City Manager model — to shield the decision making from politics somewhat (actually not enough in-practice, since the City Manager… Read more »

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 year ago
Reply to  Kate McCarthy

The OTHER side of this, which I guess which has some people’s spider-senses tingling, is the tension when denser housing goes up. Frankly, other than a normal thing about people not liking change, and certainly not liking negative change, like too much traffic, this is either good or bad if the social impacts are indeed neutral to positve, or…. bad. It really annoys me when leftist insist that people cannot complain when social conditions deteriorate, which is why people whisper and quietly move when crime goes up and school conditions deteriorate — and then of course they get mad when… Read more »

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 year ago
Reply to  Hassan Leroux

“Homeless”…. maybe rent a 2 BR? A lot of poorer families, esp immigrants, do that.

roger turner
roger turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom Reagan

Pure speculation on my part but possibly the school issue previously mentioned? If you built 350 three bedroom units how many kids could it hold? If they were moderately priced I could see many lower income families fitting three kids total in the two other rooms. That would be nearly a thousand new kids just in a couple block area which would greatly stress the local schools.

David Humphrey
David Humphrey
1 year ago
Reply to  roger turner

Do you really think 1,000 kids would be living there? And do you really think limiting three bedroom units is going to stop that?

Hassan Leroux
Hassan Leroux
1 year ago
Reply to  David Humphrey

David…if you read carefully Roger is more so worried about lower income families in Chesterfield not the fact they are building 3 bedroom apartments

Brian Glass
Brian Glass
1 year ago

Tom: Three bedroom apartments don’t work for apartments. Families that need 3 bedrooms look for a house. Furthermore, landlords can have more apartment units if 3-bedroom units are minimized. It’s all about economics from the developer’s end.

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
1 year ago

These new apartment communities are priced well above what families can afford. They are housed by a mix of young professionals earning $50 K and above and step-down seniors who’ve sold their houses and transitioning into a new lifestyle. There is very little impact on the schools. A three hundred unit Class A apartment community might have no more than ten to fifteen school age children. The new apartments provide housing opportunities in densely developed commercial areas along highway corridors and also can serve as transitional land uses that preserve vast areas of tree cover. They are also real estate… Read more »

Ashley Smith
Ashley Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

Sounds like if these are intended to be workforce housing, they should price themselves accordingly. We’re at a peculiar stage where our GDP is reliant on population growth yet our system is saying if you work you can’t have a family…very peculiar.

Carl Schwendeman
Carl Schwendeman
1 year ago
Reply to  Ashley Smith

I really feel like the Cost of Living is a war of extermination that is far worse then Global Warming in that I personally feel that the cost of living and low wages are like a concrete plug that has stopped my life’s dreams and goals. I also think population growth is not the iusse their are to many people fighting over jobs and housing. If the supply of housing could go up or the cost of living could go down by 40% and wages stay the same that would fix a lot of things and people would have more… Read more »

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
1 year ago

Carl, the supply of housing is a crisis gripping large areas of the country as populations have shifted to the south. Even higher density housing is not solving the problem. Perhaps in time, as my boomer generation dies off and lower numbered gens replace mine, the housing problem will resolve itself, though wages will be driven higher and higher. I’m surprised you think that people are fighting over jobs though when our unemployment rate is at historic lows. It’s expected to stay low over the next twenty plus years.

Leon Phoenix
Leon Phoenix
1 year ago

Very little green space. Will dogs be allowed, because there’s nowhere to walk a dog? Also not great for kids. Just parking lots and buildings. It looks like poor planning with no interest in the socio-spacial impact on the residents or the community.

Michael Morgan-Dodson
Michael Morgan-Dodson
1 year ago

It did hit me when I looked close at the site plan that the current Marshall’s space is all new apartments and the old Linen and Things space (old school I know) on the left below the leasing office is also to be now apartments. I get most of those spaces becoming apartments as they have been hard to fill but is Marshalls leaving the center. I do not see where they would relocate. They are 25-30K sq ft store and none of that remain retail space is that deep.

John Lucks
John Lucks
11 months ago

I think they are relocating to Westchester Commons. The new building going up seems to be a Marshall’s type design.