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‘A place to drive to – not through’: Inside Chesterfield’s ambitious vision for Spring Rock Green

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) – From the air, Spring Rock Green doesn’t look like much yet – it’s currently the site of a dilapidated shopping center – its half-empty storefronts, in front of a huge parking lot and sheltered from Midlothian Turnpike by a series of new fast-casual restaurants.

Formerly known as Beaufont Mall, the mall now houses a tactical supply store, a discount appliance store and a dollar tree – a far cry from the mall’s heyday.

An aerial view of the mall.

Today, the Chesterfield Economic Development Authority (EDA) is spearheading an effort to reinvent the aging plot into a new mixed-use development.

The EDA bought the property last year and is nearing final approval of an ambitious zoning proposal that now only needs an “OK” from Chesterfield’s Supervisory Board.

Stage 1

In anticipation of board approval, the EDA has announced a developer for the first block of mixed-use buildings that will form the core of the development.

Connecticut-based Collins Enterprises was chosen for the project after the success of their Freemason Harbor development in Norfolk. The first phase of Spring Rock Green, according to zoning proposals, will consist of 300 apartments, marked with a 5 on the concept map below.

A conceptual rendering of the plan in a previous iteration. (Courtesy of Chesterfield EDA)

The mixed-use complex, which will include apartments built above shops and restaurants on the ground floor, will be built along a pedestrian route tentatively named “Celebration Street”, although an official from the EDA said they are still looking for the name.

During the first phase of construction, which is expected to be completed by summer 2024, parking will be shared between dedicated structures and repurposed pre-existing parking lots. In later phases, most parking needs will be met by on-street parking and “structured and secure parking” – in parking structures built to allow residents to walk directly from the structure to the back door of their apartment.

Parking phases. (Courtesy of Chesterfield EDA)

Another feature of the first phase will be a “state-of-the-art on-ice tournament facility” or iceplex to serve the greater Richmond area.

Garrett Hart, director of economic development, said demand for ice hockey facilities had soared, driven mainly by youth leagues – but there were no facilities to serve teams in the area of central Virginia.

“We don’t have a facility in the area where we can have a home game,” he said. “People here in Richmond fly all over the country to play ice hockey.”

money talks

Collins Enterprises has estimated that its share of the development will total $75 million, but the county won’t have to pay anything. In fact, the county will sell the company a piece of land to help recoup its initial investment in the project.

“EDA is the enabler,” Hart said.

The EDA will sell the plots at fairly low prices, he added, hoping to spur growth, not reap short-term profits. “Our job is to break even.”

The iceplex, on the other hand, like the volleyball facility across the street in Stonebridge, will be built and owned by the county – which will enjoy a rental windfall once it comes into operation. service.

Alongside the iceplex, the development will eventually have a 250-room hotel to serve traveling teams and those visiting the complex’s office buildings for business.

make connections

The county will, however, be responsible for some major investments, such as “roads, utilities and public open spaces”. This will include an ambitious “greenway” proposal, transforming a nearby utility easement into a cycle and pedestrian path.

(Courtesy of Chesterfield EDA)

The other challenge is to link the development to nearby Stonebridge, Boulders and Chippenham Hospital.

In the short term, the plan is to provide a local shuttle between Chippenham Hospital and Stonebridge, with stops at Spring Rock Green and Boulders.

Ultimately, said project manager Mike Laing, the question is “How do we get over, under, around or through Midlothian Turnpike?”

“The intersection of Chippenham and Midlothian has some of the highest traffic in the area,” Hart pointed out – a blessing and a curse for a pedestrian-oriented town centre.

The infrastructure along this part of Midlothian Turnpike is extremely unfriendly to pedestrians and cyclists, with eight lanes of traffic at the junction between Stonebridge and Spring Rock Green – without a single pedestrian crossing in sight.

The master plan for the development calls for the eventual construction of a “green bridge” over the Midlothian Turnpike – an expensive proposition for the county, but, Hart said, “developers will be on board”.