Developer eyes new Short Pump community

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – If you thought Short Pump couldn't get any bigger, think again. A developer is making plans to build hundreds of new homes in the far West End.

According to plans filed with Henrico County by developer Babcock LLC, the future 140-acre community would be bordered by Pouncey Tract Road, Bacova Drive, and the new North Gayton Road extension.

The currently wide open (and privately owned) space represents what amounts to be the final frontier for housing developers in the far West End of Henrico. Early designs call for 175 new houses, most no smaller than 2,500 square feet, resembling the thousands of upscale homes in the nearby Wyndham and Twin Hickory communities.

Joe Emerson is Henrico's director of planning.

"Well, I think it's a sign of optimism," Emerson said Friday.

For a while, new construction had been booming in Henrico -- and elsewhere -- but the recession brought that to a halt. Only now does that appear to be changing.

Gary Duda brokers real estate in the area.

"People think I'm crazy when I say that we do have a new construction shortage in western Henrico County," said Duda, of ReMax Action Real Estate.

The plans also call for 400 upscale apartments and business space, benefiting from traffic on the adjacent N. Gayton Road extension, which is still under construction.

"One of the big effects of a new neighborhood is a lot more jobs. In the construction industry, in the design  industry, and real estate our industry, we like that." Duda said, with a smile.

If there are concerns about the developer's plans, the county is still figuring them out, making sure the last undeveloped spot of its size is done right.

"This is probably one of the last developments of its type on a greenfield," Emerson said, adding, "So our focus is going to be the quality of the community."

For now, though, most of the work takes place in offices and public meeting rooms. If approved, the county speculates the first shovel wouldn't go in the ground for at least a year, if not longer.

The next steps include neighborhood meetings and a re-zoning application, which the county may consider in July.

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