Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Crosland and Cloverleaf's Chippenham Place

Lets be honest. There is a tremondous amount of development going forth in Chesterfield. Much of it is underway in terms of residential projects with many more like Magnolia Green and Roseland to come, but some of the mixed-use developments are either entering the preliminary stages of talks or just coming out of them in terms of re-zonings and planning approvals.

While much this week will be centered around the feedback from the community on the Watkins Centre project from the town hall meeting Monday night, we must remind ourselves that during the same phase of development Crosland on the opposite end of Route 60 may also be building their proposed Chippenham Place development. So over the next three years Midlothian could see that on each end of its corridor; beginning with Cloverleaf Mall and at the other end with Route 288 , two very large projects underway.

Crosland's plan appear to be aligned with the 1998 Boards descision to revitalize the Eastern Midlothian Corridor. The County was advised by consultants that as a county it had to "actively participate in the redevelopment" of the corridor and that the private sector could not bear the burden alone due in part because the area had been allowed to decline relative to other sites in the county. Okay. In the end you know this inevitably means giving something to the developers inlieu of reduced or none for that matter cash proffers, ffes or assisting with water/utilities etc etc. etc.

On 1/24/07 the Board agreed to a purchase/sale agreement with Crosland regarding Cloverleaf's 80+ acres for around 9.2 million for the structures of the mall itself. The County does not currently own the actual land (ie ground) of the site currently, but is in process of negiotiation to acquire the "ground space" to move the deal forward. The COunty does own two parcels adjacent to the site outright. The ground space totals some 46 acres at the original offer price by the Chesterfield of 4.5 million was declined. The County also will have to pay off the leases of some 20 tennants of Cloverleaf in order for the projuect to move ahead and allow Crosland to raise the site for development. Estimated price tag for the buyout could be almost one million dollars.

The proposed development for the site appears appropriate in many respects. A mixed -use statisfies the Eastern Midlothian Corridor plan in that it afford the opportunity for both commercial and residential to balance the project from a planning and economic standpoint. Currently, Kroger is said to be the proposed major anchor lease for the site so far. I know, Kroger does not exactly come to mind for Richmonders when it thinks of higher end retail, but in all fairness it has positioned itself well as one of the growing chains along the southeast and has redesigned it stores to compete against the Harris-Teeters and the Ukrops of the world. That said, it is important that we take a look at Crosland. It always amazes me how folks look at plans and believe in the "this is what we are going to do" versus taking a look at the company behind the project and looking at "this is what we have done". Frankly, some 22 developers made proposals for the Cloverleaf project and there was alot of this is what we will do. What makes Crosland stand out?

While I like many of us are still concerned with the specifics, the County it appears got this one right. If you look at the projects currently undertaken by Crosland, you will find some very nice properties that work a site plan for the benefit not only of the project but the community. Crosland has projects Birkdale Village; 52 acres, 285K sq feet retail, 320 urban style apartments in the Charlotte region and also the Blakeney development off of I-485 in Charlotte which has 270 acres of mixed-use with 45 acres of greenways, a Park,495K sq. feet retail use anchored by Harris Teeter, a Professional centre with 220K sq. feet and residential housing Blakeney Green (364 homes by Ryan and Saucey Burbank) as well as Blakeney Preserve with 216 homes by Pulte. The site also has 206 Apartment-style housing units. Crsoland also has a project in Cary, NC called Residences at the Arboretum that also demonstrates its creative use of aprtments, townhouses and commercial development to support the project.

Not having really any insite into what is planned for Watkins Centre at R60/288, I could not help but begin to visiualize that project interms of the Crosland properties that I have either been to, shopped at, or viewed online as the plan is discussed. It makes me hope that the developers of that project are as aligned to the needs of a given site as Crosland appears to have been with its projects. There is still alot up in the air (actual costs by the county) with regard to when the Chippenham Place project will get underway, but I think the county has a done itself right by placing the future of the R60/Chippenham site in Crosland's hands.

Crosland "Its Our Place to Improve Yours"

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