Updated: Markel | Eagle signs on for $400M residential portion of GreenCity project

9.10R Henrico PC Aerial

An aerial rendering of the proposed $2.3 billion GreenCity development. (BizSense file)

One of the larger remaining pieces of the GreenCity puzzle is now in place for the massive arena-anchored project in development in Henrico.

Henrico-based Markel | Eagle Partners has signed on to develop a residential portion of the 200-acre “ecodistrict” project, going in with the county to purchase the Scott Farm property that makes up the northern half of the development site, which runs between Parham Road and Interstate 295 east of I-95.

Markel | Eagle’s homebuilding arm, Eagle Construction of VA, will build all of the 880 for-sale homes that are planned for the 111-acre Scott Farm property, which Bill Goodwin’s Riverstone Properties bought in 2015 and gifted earlier this year to Goodwin’s Commonwealth Foundation for Cancer Research.

Markel | Eagle is contributing $17 million toward a $35.1 million purchase of the Scott Farm land, with the county paying another $17 million through its Economic Development Authority and the EDA pitching in another $1.1 million.

The county expects to recoup its part of the payment over 20 years from incremental tax revenues generated by GreenCity. The EDA approved the purchase in a special meeting Thursday, and the transaction is scheduled to close later this month.

Riverstone bought the four parcels that make up the Scott Farm land in 2015 for more than $6.4 million. The county assessed the parcels this year at $16.6 million combined.

GreenCityResidential1

A conceptual layout of housing groups planned for the Scott Farm property.

In addition to the home sites, Markel | Eagle will develop 80 acres that make up the Scott Farm portion of a linear park that’s planned to run through the length of the GreenCity site. Principal Ricky Core said the total buildout of the Scott Farm property amounts to a $400 million investment by Markel | Eagle.

Avenlea RickyCore

Ricky Core

“We are honored to partner with Henrico County, and we are excited to embrace the vision of GreenCity and the ecodistrict,” Core said in an interview Thursday. “The visioning of GreenCity is in line with where we believe development is going to in the future, so the opportunity to be a part of executing the residential portion of GreenCity was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.”

Known for its GreenGate development in Short Pump and for completing the nearby West Broad Village development, Markel | Eagle is also known to Henrico for its recently approved Avenlea project, which Core said introduced the company to environmental approaches not unlike what’s planned with GreenCity’s ecodistrict.

“We started doing our research on these large master-planned residential communities and what the next evolution of that looked like. It kept coming down to this theme of biophilia,” Core said, referring to an industry term for interaction and integration with natural surroundings. “When you think about what the Scott Farm at GreenCity development resonates with, it resonates with that idea.”

Core said the company has had its eye on Scott Farm as a potential development opportunity for decades, and on GreenCity as it progressed through the approval process.

“It’s at a great intersection in Henrico County and a terrific place for the future growth of Henrico County,” he said.

GreenCity site plan 1

A site plan of the GreenCity project. (File image courtesy Green City Partners)

The 880 homes planned for the Scott Farm land is just a portion of the 2,400 residential units that are approved for GreenCity overall. The rest of those units would be built on the 93-acre former Best Products site that makes up the southern half of the overall site.

Developer Michael Hallmark, who is leading the $2.3 billion GreenCity project with business partner Susan Eastridge, said Eagle will also build 163 homes on the Best Products site. He said the rest of the units would be built by a multifamily residential developer to be named at a later date.

In addition to the homes, GreenCity is planned to consist of a 17,000-seat arena, two 300-room hotels, office and retail development, green space, and a rehab of the former Best Products headquarters building.

The arena, to be managed by ASM Global, is targeted for completion by the end of 2026. As part of its deal with Markel | Eagle, about 12 acres of Scott Farm will be set aside for potential parking lots to support the arena when it opens, if needed. Once structured parking is built as the development progresses, that acreage would revert back to Markel | Eagle for residential development, no later than 2031.

Earlier this year, Riverstone filed a conceptual layout for the residential development planned for Scott Farm. A preliminary plat approved in June shows the 880 units broken down as 510 townhomes, 302 “two-over-two” condos and 68 villas. The condos were not approved as part of the plat, and those that are planned at the northern end of GreenCity – 192 units – could be switched out with so-called condo flats.

GreenCity property 2

The 200-acre GreenCity site includes the Scott Farm property owned by Riverstone Properties. (BizSense file)

Core said the homes would be a variety of product types including detached and attached units and condos, and range in sizes and price points. He said Markel | Eagle would follow the master plan for GreenCity but could make some tweaks to its part of the development.

“We’re going to take a look at everything that has already been approved and make adjustments as necessary,” he said.

Core said the deal between Markel | Eagle and Henrico materialized over the past month or so. EDA director Anthony Romanello said it was always the plan for a residential developer to be brought into the project, and that Markel | Eagle was selected for its track record in the county.

anthony romanello cropped

Anthony Romanello

“When you take a project where you’ve got the GreenCity principals, ASM Global and now Markel | Eagle, that is a phenomenal trio of folks that have proven track records of doing quality projects,” Romanello said.

“In particular with Markel | Eagle – their track record of what they’ve done at GreenGate, what they’re doing at Avenlea, what they’ve done with their other projects of good quality housing that’s focused on environmental sustainability and great places to live – when you think about having a partner that could help with placemaking, we’re just really excited that Markel | Eagle is going to be on the team.”

Romanello noted that GreenCity is also planned to include the 16-acre property immediately east of Scott Farm that currently houses the nearby Saint Gertrude High School Outdoor Athletic Center. Once those facilities are relocated to Saint Gertrude’s new school in Goochland County, he said the athletic center site is expected to be used for commercial development to support GreenCity.

Infrastructure improvements to support GreenCity are in the works, including a planned east-west extension of Magellan Parkway, which would bisect the site and run across I-95 via a new bridge. The existing Scott Road bridge is planned to be converted to a pedestrian bridge in coordination with the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Core said homes at GreenCity could start being built in late 2025 or in 2026, depending on the infrastructure improvements.

GreenCity property 9

The former Best Products headquarters building, which is to be repurposed as part of the GreenCity development. (Henrico County images)

As for GreenCity overall, the first phase of construction, which was to include the Best Products building rehab, had previously been targeted for sometime this year. Romanello said Thursday that a timeframe for the Best Products rehab is not set and that market forces and interest rates are factoring into the timing.

Hallmark added that the project is being coordinated and timed with the Living Building Challenge, a recognition program under the Seattle-based International Living Future Institute.

“GreenCity was announced in late 2020. The world has changed dramatically in the last couple of years,” Romanello said.

Adding that the 2.2 million square feet of office space and 280,000 square feet of retail space planned for GreenCity has not changed, Romanello said, “Certainly if there is an office user that has a strong commitment to sustainability and wants to be in an ecodistrict, that schedule can be accelerated.”

“GreenCity is a very strong development, with three great partners plus the county and the EDA to support them, and certainly impacted by the world around us,” he said.

9.10R Henrico PC Aerial

An aerial rendering of the proposed $2.3 billion GreenCity development. (BizSense file)

One of the larger remaining pieces of the GreenCity puzzle is now in place for the massive arena-anchored project in development in Henrico.

Henrico-based Markel | Eagle Partners has signed on to develop a residential portion of the 200-acre “ecodistrict” project, going in with the county to purchase the Scott Farm property that makes up the northern half of the development site, which runs between Parham Road and Interstate 295 east of I-95.

Markel | Eagle’s homebuilding arm, Eagle Construction of VA, will build all of the 880 for-sale homes that are planned for the 111-acre Scott Farm property, which Bill Goodwin’s Riverstone Properties bought in 2015 and gifted earlier this year to Goodwin’s Commonwealth Foundation for Cancer Research.

Markel | Eagle is contributing $17 million toward a $35.1 million purchase of the Scott Farm land, with the county paying another $17 million through its Economic Development Authority and the EDA pitching in another $1.1 million.

The county expects to recoup its part of the payment over 20 years from incremental tax revenues generated by GreenCity. The EDA approved the purchase in a special meeting Thursday, and the transaction is scheduled to close later this month.

Riverstone bought the four parcels that make up the Scott Farm land in 2015 for more than $6.4 million. The county assessed the parcels this year at $16.6 million combined.

GreenCityResidential1

A conceptual layout of housing groups planned for the Scott Farm property.

In addition to the home sites, Markel | Eagle will develop 80 acres that make up the Scott Farm portion of a linear park that’s planned to run through the length of the GreenCity site. Principal Ricky Core said the total buildout of the Scott Farm property amounts to a $400 million investment by Markel | Eagle.

Avenlea RickyCore

Ricky Core

“We are honored to partner with Henrico County, and we are excited to embrace the vision of GreenCity and the ecodistrict,” Core said in an interview Thursday. “The visioning of GreenCity is in line with where we believe development is going to in the future, so the opportunity to be a part of executing the residential portion of GreenCity was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.”

Known for its GreenGate development in Short Pump and for completing the nearby West Broad Village development, Markel | Eagle is also known to Henrico for its recently approved Avenlea project, which Core said introduced the company to environmental approaches not unlike what’s planned with GreenCity’s ecodistrict.

“We started doing our research on these large master-planned residential communities and what the next evolution of that looked like. It kept coming down to this theme of biophilia,” Core said, referring to an industry term for interaction and integration with natural surroundings. “When you think about what the Scott Farm at GreenCity development resonates with, it resonates with that idea.”

Core said the company has had its eye on Scott Farm as a potential development opportunity for decades, and on GreenCity as it progressed through the approval process.

“It’s at a great intersection in Henrico County and a terrific place for the future growth of Henrico County,” he said.

GreenCity site plan 1

A site plan of the GreenCity project. (File image courtesy Green City Partners)

The 880 homes planned for the Scott Farm land is just a portion of the 2,400 residential units that are approved for GreenCity overall. The rest of those units would be built on the 93-acre former Best Products site that makes up the southern half of the overall site.

Developer Michael Hallmark, who is leading the $2.3 billion GreenCity project with business partner Susan Eastridge, said Eagle will also build 163 homes on the Best Products site. He said the rest of the units would be built by a multifamily residential developer to be named at a later date.

In addition to the homes, GreenCity is planned to consist of a 17,000-seat arena, two 300-room hotels, office and retail development, green space, and a rehab of the former Best Products headquarters building.

The arena, to be managed by ASM Global, is targeted for completion by the end of 2026. As part of its deal with Markel | Eagle, about 12 acres of Scott Farm will be set aside for potential parking lots to support the arena when it opens, if needed. Once structured parking is built as the development progresses, that acreage would revert back to Markel | Eagle for residential development, no later than 2031.

Earlier this year, Riverstone filed a conceptual layout for the residential development planned for Scott Farm. A preliminary plat approved in June shows the 880 units broken down as 510 townhomes, 302 “two-over-two” condos and 68 villas. The condos were not approved as part of the plat, and those that are planned at the northern end of GreenCity – 192 units – could be switched out with so-called condo flats.

GreenCity property 2

The 200-acre GreenCity site includes the Scott Farm property owned by Riverstone Properties. (BizSense file)

Core said the homes would be a variety of product types including detached and attached units and condos, and range in sizes and price points. He said Markel | Eagle would follow the master plan for GreenCity but could make some tweaks to its part of the development.

“We’re going to take a look at everything that has already been approved and make adjustments as necessary,” he said.

Core said the deal between Markel | Eagle and Henrico materialized over the past month or so. EDA director Anthony Romanello said it was always the plan for a residential developer to be brought into the project, and that Markel | Eagle was selected for its track record in the county.

anthony romanello cropped

Anthony Romanello

“When you take a project where you’ve got the GreenCity principals, ASM Global and now Markel | Eagle, that is a phenomenal trio of folks that have proven track records of doing quality projects,” Romanello said.

“In particular with Markel | Eagle – their track record of what they’ve done at GreenGate, what they’re doing at Avenlea, what they’ve done with their other projects of good quality housing that’s focused on environmental sustainability and great places to live – when you think about having a partner that could help with placemaking, we’re just really excited that Markel | Eagle is going to be on the team.”

Romanello noted that GreenCity is also planned to include the 16-acre property immediately east of Scott Farm that currently houses the nearby Saint Gertrude High School Outdoor Athletic Center. Once those facilities are relocated to Saint Gertrude’s new school in Goochland County, he said the athletic center site is expected to be used for commercial development to support GreenCity.

Infrastructure improvements to support GreenCity are in the works, including a planned east-west extension of Magellan Parkway, which would bisect the site and run across I-95 via a new bridge. The existing Scott Road bridge is planned to be converted to a pedestrian bridge in coordination with the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Core said homes at GreenCity could start being built in late 2025 or in 2026, depending on the infrastructure improvements.

GreenCity property 9

The former Best Products headquarters building, which is to be repurposed as part of the GreenCity development. (Henrico County images)

As for GreenCity overall, the first phase of construction, which was to include the Best Products building rehab, had previously been targeted for sometime this year. Romanello said Thursday that a timeframe for the Best Products rehab is not set and that market forces and interest rates are factoring into the timing.

Hallmark added that the project is being coordinated and timed with the Living Building Challenge, a recognition program under the Seattle-based International Living Future Institute.

“GreenCity was announced in late 2020. The world has changed dramatically in the last couple of years,” Romanello said.

Adding that the 2.2 million square feet of office space and 280,000 square feet of retail space planned for GreenCity has not changed, Romanello said, “Certainly if there is an office user that has a strong commitment to sustainability and wants to be in an ecodistrict, that schedule can be accelerated.”

“GreenCity is a very strong development, with three great partners plus the county and the EDA to support them, and certainly impacted by the world around us,” he said.

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Carl Schwendeman
Carl Schwendeman
9 months ago

I really hope the county uses this speical tax dstrict to build sidewalks with in 5 miles of this place.

Ramone Antonio
Ramone Antonio
9 months ago

We do need sidewalks in a lot areas. But I can’t wait to see different sides of town built up like this one. I don’t want to be old and gray when it’s all done.

Last edited 9 months ago by Ramone Antonio
Carl Schwendeman
Carl Schwendeman
9 months ago
Reply to  Ramone Antonio

I personally think this is a good project in that it will create a lot of housing. Also they did replace a large run down section of town that needed to be refreshed.

Lucas de Block
Lucas de Block
9 months ago

Why over 10 years? I know these projects can take a while, but if the demand is high, why go so slow?

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
9 months ago
Reply to  Lucas de Block

It takes some time to develop the infrastructure prior to the housing starts. Then, sales begin over the first year, accelerating in years 3 and up. It’s not a straight line thing. Demand is high but high interest rates and costs will impact sale velocity.

roger turner
roger turner
9 months ago
Reply to  Lucas de Block

880 Units, 220K of office space and a 17K arena will require a lot of utility upgrades. You are probably looking a new electrical substations, at minimum a new waste water pumping station and upgrades to electrical water and sewer pipes in the area. I believe previous articles also mentioned either upgrading the Scott Road bridge over 95 or installing a new overpass connecting Scott to Magellan Parkway. In any case those will take several years of engineering and permitting before you could even think about going out to bid on those upgrades. Like you I would like to see… Read more »

Victoria Woodhull
Victoria Woodhull
8 months ago
Reply to  roger turner

Like you, I am worried about the infrastructure, water, sewer, runoff, substations, etc. Housing developers typically do not do a great job at sustainable infrastructure – it works right now, so we’re good… If they go “green”, where is the solar farm / wind farm? Where is the electric storage? Will they be good neighbors to the surrounding subdivisions while they build?

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
8 months ago

far more green than solar and batteries is what we knew back circa 2005: insulate above code and make things more passive — white roofs, thermal masses that get warm during winter days — and you can build the roofs to have the right sun orientation and slopes so that people can put some PVs on the roof if they wan’t that luxury.

If you look at all the mining costs, batteries and panels aren’t very green.

Eric Viking
Eric Viking
9 months ago

…absolutely no timeline mentioned for the construction of a new arena. I’m not optimistic that it’s even going to happen. If it does happen, it isn’t going to happen any time soon and it likely won’t even open before 2027 at this rate. I just don’t have a lot of confidence in this developer.

roger turner
roger turner
9 months ago
Reply to  Eric Viking

At least the Henrico County EDA and administration is involved. They have a track record of getting things done.

Adam Hill
Adam Hill
9 months ago
Reply to  Eric Viking

The article did say the arena was “targeted for completion by the end of 2026” About 1/2 way through, just below the site plan image.

William Willis
William Willis
9 months ago

With this and what is happening in Virginia Center Commons area Central Henrico is the new Short Pump as far as Development growth potential and impact. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for this corridor and the surrounding area.

Stephen Weisensale
Stephen Weisensale
9 months ago
Reply to  William Willis

A new short pump? Oh, please NO!

William Willis
William Willis
9 months ago

Whether you like Short Pump or not it is a huge economic success for Henrico.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
9 months ago
Reply to  William Willis

Thank you for explaining the obvious to the Haters.

David J. Kupstas
David J. Kupstas
9 months ago

This is a minor part of the story, but am I reading correctly that the St. Gertrude athletic fields are eventually going to go away? That’s too bad because the complex seems relatively new, but I guess it happens sometimes.

Michael Boyer
Michael Boyer
9 months ago

Look at Wyndham and the Old Brick projects,they took years to build out and most of your utilities were somewhat close by.My guess to complete:25 -30yrs.

Brian Glass
Brian Glass
9 months ago

The key to Green City is to get the arena under construction. It’s no different than the Diamond District getting the baseball stadium under construction.

Henrico County excels at adding sidewalks. Right now, they are being added on Hungary Road, near Staples Mill Rd.They will be included in any new developments.

Justin Reynolds
Justin Reynolds
9 months ago
Reply to  Brian Glass

Henrico does most things exceptionally well, but to say Henrico excel at anything sidewalk or pedestrian-related is a stretch. After all, there are still obvious dirt paths in the grass along W Broad St and Patterson Ave. Henrico started adding more pedestrian-friendly features (investing in extended mass transit lines and sidewalks) when the political leaning of the board flipped democratic recently.

Zach Rugar
Zach Rugar
9 months ago

Political sides in these problems don’t matter. Stop taking sides!

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
9 months ago
Reply to  Zach Rugar

Not sure he is. I know I am painting with a broad brush, but the Rs are usually more well-known for being on the fiscally responsible side, among other things, while the Ds are more well-known for being on the walkability side —- there are of course many examples of Ds that are very concerned with fiscal responsibility — esp in areas where it is their own communites that pay for most improvements and not handouts from Washington or State Capitals, and are relatively affluent (that is, they are responsible to the taxpayers and not merely “stakeholders” and, on the… Read more »

Victoria Woodhull
Victoria Woodhull
8 months ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

Shawn, you are describing the 1960’s-70’s D party – the parties have flipped. Sidewalks are a nice amenity – not a requirement – so if money should be spent, it should be on housing.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
8 months ago

Sure — if we were mandarin bureaucrats that could give One Solution For All — I agree with you generally right now — PLAN for more sidewalks someplaces, but don’t build them yet. Some people complain that there is not enough greenspace in new developments AROUND the homes, but as long as there is some nearby, it is often not a problem. Once you get out of the Strong Towns ideological box, experts realize that suburban and subdivision planning has been WOEFULLY neglected, likely because academics find it “icky”, but since we are building suburbs a lot more than we… Read more »

Justin Reynolds
Justin Reynolds
8 months ago
Reply to  Zach Rugar

Stating a fact isn’t the same as taking a side. Henrico only started investing in non-vehicular forms of transit when the board of supervisors flipped party control several years ago. Given how much traffic congestion and how many pedestrian deaths are happening around the region, I applaud Henrico’s more recent efforts to support more forms of transit than just vehicles.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
8 months ago
Reply to  Brian Glass

Where are all my anti-parking bros speaking out against new stadium building???? Ever see a presentation on how much more land the parking takes than the stadium does??

Joseph Bly
Joseph Bly
9 months ago

As someone that lives right next to this planned Green City…the new drawing for the Scott farm portion looks like there is way less green space, then the original drawing. Hopefully it’s not going to be like the cluster F*** that is next to the DMV on Brook Rd. That development seems kinda just thrown in there, with no regard for trees or blending in with the natural surroundings. There is going to need to be so many upgrades to the surrounding roads, lighing, sidewalks, exits, etc … including upgrades to the businesses in the surrounding area. We definitely don’t… Read more »

Victoria Woodhull
Victoria Woodhull
8 months ago
Reply to  Joseph Bly

Joseph, I thought the development you speak of is for 55 and older? If so, “green space” means more lawn care, which means the homeowner does it or the association does it for higher fees. Either scenario is a loser for persons on fixed incomes. If you ask a 65 year old – do you want to do your own lawn care, or do you want to pay an additional $100 per month in fees, or do you want NEITHER? My guess is in that area, they will choose the latter.

Victoria Woodhull
Victoria Woodhull
8 months ago

Gotta love Marketing! Someone please define the housing developer’s words “theme of biophilia”. I can’t WAIT to see how Eagle is going to build 2400 residential units with a theme of “biophilia.” HA! All solar all electric homes? – where is the substation? – do LaCornue and Viking make electric stoves now?. If this is “Green City” – please define green.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
8 months ago

I’m glad you pointed this out.

I’d love to see some ACTUAL eco-villages, but when people smack “green” on things I tend to be a bit skeptical, it’s often just marketing. Details are important.

Victoria Woodhull
Victoria Woodhull
8 months ago

Isn’t Michael Hallmark part of the group of the VCU $75 mil fiasco?

William Willis
William Willis
8 months ago

So looking at the layout are all of the development going to be townhomes, apartments, condos with no stand alone houses?

Michael Morgan-Dodson
Michael Morgan-Dodson
8 months ago

I am sorry but HOW is this a portion of GreenGate tied to that project developer except on paper plans and its name. I do think Markel | Eagle with do a great job with the development but they are buying the land with EDA (and through Henrico direct payment), paying for the improvements including the park, and will be building the residential units. GreenGate is does not appear to have a DIME in this portion of the deal. The never even owned the land that is being sold. M | E will develop more housing in the main section… Read more »

William Willis
William Willis
8 months ago

I wonder what will happen between 95 and the Green City Development currently just some small rural house. I bet you will see those get bought out and developed as the arena, hotel, business and conference center start to open.