2007-01-10 / News

Shopping center gets a jump on Watkins Centre

By Greg Pearson

Chesterfield developer Rebkee Company will break ground on the Shoppes at Westchester by early April, creating the first retail/office option near the intersection of routes 288/60. The 35-acre mixed-use site is on the western border of Westchester Commons, the 132-acre retail component of the Watkins Center.

"We closed on the property at the end of last year, and now we're starting to market the center," said Rob Hargett, Rebkee's coowner.

The Shoppes project has landed BB&T and SunTrust Bank so far and has its fingers crossed on CVS. With 14 buildings and 275,000 square feet of mostly service retail, it may attract competitors of those going next door to Westchester Commons. However, by prior agreement, no store can be larger than 70,000 square feet.

Three of the Shoppes' buildings are penciled in as restaurants, and two of them have frontage on Midlothian Turnpike. But the layout could change based on who the tenants become.

"Because we're bankers, we build [centers] on a financial model rather than a 'build them and they will come' basis," said Kevin McFadden, another Rebkee co-owner and a former employee with Sovran Bank. "We're going to be the first in."

When the Rebkee Company began 15 years ago, the small staff worked out of McFadden's home in Woodlake. In March next year, the company is expected to move its headquarters on Old Bon Air Road to a three-story, 60,000- square-foot office building at the Shoppes at Westchester. About two-thirds of the office space in the building will be leased.

Retailers should be attracted to the Shoppes at Westchester because of its location, which is surrounded by some of the highest income neighborhoods in metro Richmond.

"I think you'll be seeing a lot of retailers gravitate here just like they did to Short Pump and the Commonwealth Centre," indicated McFadden.

Much of the immediate area has yet to be developed residentially. Gray Land and Development Company has zoning approval to build 1,600 multifamily and single-family homes nearby. GBS Holding, Ltd. is currently seeking zoning for 5,140 new homes as part of its Roseland project, located near the intersection of Route 288 and Woolridge Road.

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