2011-01-05 / Opinions

Chesterfield County has some catching up to do

A few days ago I had a need to go across the river to Henrico County. My trip carried me over to Gaskins Road and Broad Street. To describe my experience, it was like going from night to day or going from the 1800s to the 2000s. Or to put it another way, going from Richmond to New York. I traveled west on Broad Street to Route 288 to return back to Chesterfield County.

I was amazed at the commerce along this corridor compared to Chesterfield County. I thought to myself what a tremendous tax base Henrico County has along this corridor, and what if Chesterfield had a similar one? We would not have to pay for EMS service or recycling. We could probably eliminate the toll road, cut real estate taxes – the possibilities are unlimited.

I started wondering what is wrong – why Henrico and not Chesterfield? Is it the government structure – Henrico has a county manager, whereas Chesterfield County has a supervisor type. Is it a planning problem? Is it a road problem? How many toll roads are located in Henrico as opposed to Chesterfield? But it left me with the big puzzle: Why?

There’s tax revenue being lost by the now closed Cloverleaf Mall, and if you look at Chesterfield Towne Center closely, you can see its days are numbered with Macy’s and a stripped down Sears store being the major anchors, and with the addition of Garden Ridge, which occupies the former Dillard’s space, whose majority business is seasonal.

The development of the Watkins Centre is not moving as expected, and [it’s the same with] the new Hancock [Village], although Dick’s Sporting Goods and Bed Bath and Beyond are planning to open there sometime in the future.

Everywhere you look in Chesterfield County, you see shopping centers with so many empty spaces. For example, look at Oxbridge [Shopping Center] at Courthouse Road and [Route] 360, [then] look a little further down Courthouse Road at Lucks Lane, another strip center is showing up with empty spaces. The cleared land area across from Walmart and Sam’s on Route 60 where Cracker Barrel was going to build sits still undeveloped.

I was at Stony Point Fashion Park during the holiday season, and basically the center was empty.

I know that sometime ago it was said that Chesterfield was a First Choice Community, but if something doesn’t turn around, Chesterfield will become a dead community. Blight will take over all of this empty commercial property.

Ask yourselves this question: What do we have in Chesterfield County to attract shoppers from across the river to come from Henrico into Chesterfield to shop? Take the trip yourself. Look at the shopping opportunities, places to eat and most of all, the job opportunities located along this corridor.

Take a good look on Mapquest, and look at all of the roads in Chesterfield County that do not connect or go anywhere. Between routes 76 and 360 there is no access to Genito Road. Chesterfield County, it is time to wake up and smell the coffee.
Buddy Hardee

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