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2018-02-14 / Real Estate

More apartments proposed at Westchester

BY RICH GRISET STAFF WRITER


A rendering of the already approved upscale apartment complex at Westchester Commons. Plans for another apartment project, on City View Drive near Westchester, were recently submitted to the Planning Department. 
RENDERING COURTESY OF POOLE & POOLE ARCHITECTURE A rendering of the already approved upscale apartment complex at Westchester Commons. Plans for another apartment project, on City View Drive near Westchester, were recently submitted to the Planning Department. RENDERING COURTESY OF POOLE & POOLE ARCHITECTURE More apartments may be in the works for Westchester Commons.

The Rebkee Company, a local commercial real estate firm, has submitted plans to build an apartment complex behind the Wawa near Westchester Commons. If approved, the project would become the second major apartment complex to be developed in the county’s western corridor at Midlothian Turnpike and state Route 288.

In an eight-page rezoning application submitted to the Chesterfield County Planning Department, Rebkee is proposing a complex with a maximum of 250 apartments and a maximum building height of five stories, located at 15800 City View Drive.

Since the site is not currently zoned for apartments, the case will be heard at the Planning Commission’s next meeting on Feb. 20. Rob Hargett, a principal at Rebkee, declined via email to discuss the proposal until after it received approval from the Board of Supervisors.

If approved, the apartment complex will join a planned 236-apartment development at Westchester Commons, which will be built on a bluff overlooking Route 288. That project – tentatively named Westchester Apartments – is being developed by a group of five local developers, including George Emerson and Casey Sowers.

“We closed on the property at the end of December,” Emerson says. “We’re expecting to have site plan approval from Chesterfield County in March, and we expect to break ground probably in July.” The two-building complex was approved by the Board of Supervisors in September. The apartments will be located near the shopping center’s Regal Cinemas movie theater, and should be open during the first quarter of 2020. Emerson says high-end apartments located in close proximity to shopping and entertainment are in demand. “It’s what people want now,” Emerson says. “When you look at the traffic on 288 going both directions in the morning, there’s [going to be] a ton of people that ride by those apartments every day. They’ll be able to live right there.” Mixed-use developments that blend residential, commercial and entertainment uses are relatively new to the county, but may become increasingly common going forward. Another similar, albeit smaller mixed-use project called Stonebridge along the county’s easternmost corridor, at the former Cloverleaf Mall site, includes retail shopping, restaurants and apartments.

Planning Manager Steve Haasch says such projects are part of county’s comprehensive plan. “We have been trying to establish real mixed-use areas, especially higher density mixed-use areas, at key locations throughout the county,” Haasch says.

Both millennials and boomers are increasingly seeking housing in mixed-use projects, he says, where they can get shopping and entertainment within walking distance.

“We’re trying to bring that choice online,” Haasch says. “That’s typically something that our traditional suburban pattern has not facilitated.”

Westchester Commons has the potential to become more urban in nature, Haasch says. He says other corridors along major highways could also benefit from mixed-use development, such as the Commonwealth Center area off Hull Street Road and Route 288. “I think there’s potential to ready that site, introduce more housing,” Haasch says.

The planned apartment complexes at Westchester Commons come at a time when some residents have been vocal about not wanting apartments just down the road, near Midlothian Village. Three weeks ago at a packed meeting at Salisbury Presbyterian Church, many residents of the Salisbury community expressed concerns about a new apartment complex. The meeting took place after some residents noticed a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development sign in front of the development along West Salisbury Road.

Residents were concerned that it would be subsidized housing; in reality, HUD is financing the project. But a number of people still criticized the building of apartments in general, saying it would negatively affect the area.

As for his Westchester apartments, Emerson says they’ll be top of the line for Chesterfield’s market.

“It will be the highest-end project that we’ve built to date,” Emerson says. “I think Chesterfield will be very proud of it.” ¦

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