Council approves Hillpoint area development

Published 7:35 pm Thursday, December 17, 2020

Council members called a proposed development in the Hillpoint area one of the best they can recall seeing as they unanimously approved a rezoning for a mixed-use development on about 117 acres of farmland that would bring up to 700 housing units along with commercial, medical and office spaces.

“This particular submittal is probably one of the most comprehensive ones that I’ve seen since I’ve been sitting on council,” said Councilman Roger Fawcett during council’s Dec.16 meeting.

The comment by Fawcett and others on council were similar to those offered by Planning Commission chairman Howard Benton when it gave its unanimous recommendation to rezone the property, which is being developed by The Terry Peterson Companies on behalf of property owner representative Mark Brinkley.

The development, to be called Godwin Park, will feature up to 60 homes, 120 townhomes and 520 apartments or condominiums, along with a minimum of 85,000 square feet of commercial space and a minimum of 24,000 square feet of medical/office space.

The property, off of Godwin Boulevard and bordering Sentara Obici Hospital and Hillpoint Farms, is being rezoned from general commercial, office-institutional, light industrial and rural residential to a mixed-use development overlay district and is expected to take more than a decade to build out, Brinkley said during a public hearing.

Brinkley said his family has been deliberate in deciding what it wanted to do with the property after his father died six years ago and his mother moved away from it about a year later. He said the family interviewed three or four firms before the family chose The Terry Peterson Companies, which has developed multiple communities in Suffolk, including King’s Fork Farm, the Gables at the River Front, Sunfall at the Riverfront, River Highlands, River Gate and Hampton Roads Crossing. And they have worked for a year to 18 months with the city resolving concerns about traffic, school capacity and other issues.

Brinkley said that when the family was looking at what to do with the property, the family sat down with then-City Manager Patrick Roberts and then-Deputy City Manager Scott Mills and asked for their advice on what to do with their property at the back of the farm. Both, according to Brinkley during a public hearing, said they felt like it should be a residential-type of development.

He said it was too big of a project to do themselves as general contractors working on commercial developments, so that’s when it found The Terry Peterson Companies.

“They were much more aligned with our vision of what we wanted to do with the back,” Brinkley said. “But two, it allows us to stay in control of what we’re going to do, and we will be 50/50 partners, but I have the last say in what we’re going to do back there.”

Brinkley said he’s in this project for the long haul.

“All I can promise you is that, I’m looking at, in 15 more years, I should retire,” Brinkley said. “And it’s going to probably take me 15 years to finish this development, which I would very much like to do and leave it the way we started it for the family, because this is something we want to keep and maintain in the family, so that we’re sure the quality level and everything stays to where it is today.”

A proffered conceptual plan for the property outlines two distinct areas for it — a mixed-use commercial district and a residential village. Access to the development would come off of Godwin Boulevard, also known as Route 10, and Corporate Lane, with two other access points that could be developed — one on the southern part of the property at Kensington Boulevard and another between the existing Taco Bell and Bojangles restaurants to the north, and Walgreens to the south.

Brinkley and the developer have proffered 56 pages’ worth of design guidelines for the project, with about 56 acres devoted to residential use with the 700 units, resulting in a density of 12.5 units per acre.

Phase 1 of the project would include 60 homes, as well as 120 townhomes and 260 apartments, along with the commercial and medical and office spaces.

The second phase is contingent upon improvements to Godwin Boulevard from the Route 58 Bypass to Kings Fork Road, widening it from four to six lanes, and improvements to U.S. Route 58 at the Godwin Boulevard interchange to add capacity to the off-ramps and reduce queuing in the bypass through lanes. Both projects will be submitted in the city’s upcoming Capital Improvement Program and Plan. City staff has submitted two SmartScale projects for this project areas, and assistant director for public works Robert Lewis said the city is working with the Virginia Department of Transportation to tweak the SmartScale applications.

“With that said, at best at this point, it’s probably a minimum of six years before that funding would become available should they be selected in this round,,” Lewis said.

Phase 2 would include an additional 260 age-restricted apartments and allow for the potential of additional commercial developments.

“I could not approve this without the phasing,” said Councilman Mike Duman. “The phasing is the key.”

As part of the project, there will be traffic signal timing adjustments to reduce delays, and as part of the traffic impact study submitted with the rezoning application, the Phase 1 development would generate 6,611 daily vehicle trips, 343 net morning peak hour trips and 520 afternoon peak hour trips. There will also be a preemptive signal timing plan developed and implemented to address the periodic extensive queuing on the U.S. Route 58 westbound offramp under current and future conditions, which would include the Centerbrooke Lane/Burnetts Way at Godwin Boulevard intersection to clear traffic before westbound offramp traffic turns right and goes north on Godwin Boulevard.

In Phase 2 there is expected to be an additional 5,859 net daily vehicle trips to the site, including 385 additional net morning peak hour trips and 546 additional net afternoon peak hour trips.

Brinkley and The Terry Peterson Company have proffered nearly $597,000 for a projected increase of 17 elementary students and another $178,000 for six high school students.

“You’re going to build a quality product up here and it’s going to make that corridor on Route 10 explode,” Fawcett said. “And it’s going to be exciting to see it.”