80-acre Libbie Hill redevelopment project will take 10 years

Posted at 6:28 PM, Jul 26, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-26 23:21:40-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) -- Linda Wood and her mom, Francis relish the tranquility of their front yard on Spencer Road in Henrico County. But their peace and quiet is slowly disappearing as crews are moving mounds of earth across the street.

“It is a quiet, convenient, nice community, but it will be dusty and noisy. It will be ok,” Wood said. “I mean we knew its coming. We knew. We had lots of warning."

Eighty acres of empty fields bordered by Staples Mill Road, Bethlehem Road and Spencer Road are giving way to Libbie Hill, a mixed-use development along Staples Mill Road in Henrico sandwiched between I-64 and West Broad Street.

The project, which has been in the pipeline for a decade, will include nearly 2,000 new homes and apartments. The walkable neighborhood will also include shops and offices.

"This will be unique nothing quite like it in the neighborhood,” said Edward Crews, a spokesman for Gumenick Properties. "We've been making plans for this for a decade now."

This was once the site of an aging post-war apartment complex home to dozens of low-income families. They were evicted to clear the site.

When Libbie Hill was approved by the Henrico County, affordable housing was not part of the deal with developer Gumenick Properties. The real estate crash delayed the project until now which will include a new public library and two-acre pond at the center of the development.

"I'm looking forward to Dumbarton Library going up there. We go to the library all of the time,” Wood said.

The massive $434 million condo, retail and town home project will be built in phases.  The final stages will be open for business in ten years. The developer says the area is ripe for revitalization.

"Well this will be a real boost to the economy. We will put people to work during the construction phase and after when the retail opens up,” said Crews.

Back in Linda Wood's front lawn she is savoring the vast open space across the street. She knows its days are numbered. When they come she will welcome her new neighbors with open arms, but will miss her quiet mornings.

"I'm looking forward to having a community again. Open fields will be nice, but a community is better," said Wood.

The grocery chain, Southern Seasons, is building a 50,000 square foot location at the site. It will open in mid-2014.