New neighborhood planned for Henrico's West End

By Andy Jenks - bio | email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – Henrico's sprawling West End will be squeezing in a few more families. County leaders have approved a new neighborhood within the Hunton Park community, located near Interstate 295 and Staples Mill Road.

The developer plans to put in 49 new houses in what's currently a wooded area. It marks the first time in months that land has been re-zoned for new homes in the county.

New construction rarely sounded so good to developer Bob Atack.

"This is all that's left to develop," he said, pointing out the land.

We're standing in front of 13 wooded acres, just down the road from the rest of Hunton Park, an 800 unit community of single family homes, townhouses, and apartments. Tuesday, the county gave Atack permission to put in 49 more single family homes. The houses will average 2,000 square feet, catering to families.

"It doesn't connect to any commercial development. When someone drives through here, it is most likely your neighbor," Atack said.

Forty-nine houses may seem unremarkable in a county of 306,000 people, but not this time. When Atack came forward with the request, it marked what many believed to be a turning point for the struggling real estate market.

Joe Emerson is Henrico's director of planning.

"Certainly an indication that things are beginning to look better in the economy," Emerson said.

It had been almost a year. The county, thanks to the tanking economy, saw almost no interest from developers in making new neighborhoods. What's happening now appears to be a significant new step.

"We're not at the level certainly that we were several years ago. But we are certainly beginning to see an  increase in contacts," Emerson said.

After so many months of little to no interest in new housing (many buyers are considering foreclosure properties), Atack is predicting it soon will be in greater demand.

"The market votes on that every day. That market votes on that with its checkbook," he said.

It will still take some time for the neighborhood to be developed. Building will commence in 18-24 months. The newest of the Hunton Park homes are expected to be sold in 2013.

At Tuesday's Henrico board of supervisors meeting, a small number of residents raised concerns about increases in traffic, but the county gave assurances that the existing roadways can handle extra vehicles.

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