CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Chesterfield County’s Rockwood community could soon be getting a makeover, after a Special Focus Area (SFA) plan was approved unanimously for the zone at the Board of Supervisors Wednesday meeting.
The decision marks a historic first for the County, which did not previously have an SFA plan.
“It is the first of this kind for the County,” Department of Planning Senior Planner Jim Noxon. “The plan guides future growth, land development [and] redevelopment decisions, programs, ordinances and policies. It also provides strategies for redevelopment of key properties through detailed design guidelines and placemaking.”
This mixed-use ordinance allows for the development of one or more lots constructed as a cohesive project and designed with a blend of various compatible uses such as commercial, residential and institutional. Board members agreed that this decision could open the door for the approval of other such plans, like the Midlothian Special Design District.
“I think this is a really good example of how we’re really paying special focus on special areas that are in need of just a plan. I mean, not just the aspect of recognizing a boost, but a plan of what that looks like, an intentional investment of energies and infrastructure, design and things that then will not only welcome investment, but encourage investment,” Midlothian District representative Leslie Haley said. “So I’m really, really pleased to see this coming up, and more to follow.”
According to Noxon’s Wednesday presentation before the Board of Supervisors, the Rockwood community, centered around the intersection of Route 360 and Courthouse Road, will focus on the redevelopment of larger shopping centers, before moving to smaller outparcels. The shopping centers in question include Rockwood Square, Oxbridge Square, and Rockwood Plaza, which, officials say, account for 50 percent of the area’s total square footage of commercial use space.
“The area also has an attractive market for new development, according to a market analysis that was conducted in 2019 by the Department of Community Enhancement,” Noxon said. “[The Department of] Planning really sees this area and sees a real need to reverse a development pattern that’s really not sustainable into the future.”
Moving forward, the SFA plan will serve as a guide for construction in the Rockwood community.
“The plan provides a healthy balance of residential, commercial, retail, office and entertainment uses that are mutually beneficial,” Noxon said. “It promotes additional housing options that we don’t currently have in the area. It also encourages a walkable development pattern with higher densities centered around the main intersection of Route 360 and Courthouse Road.”
The plan outlines additional access points to be constructed to Rockwood Park, as well as the establishment of new open spaces, such as village greens and trails along the area’s streams. The SFA guidance also calls for additional crosswalks and pedestrian signals at multiple intersections to shift the focus of what is currently a high-vehicular-traffic area to something more walkable.
“It’s been a long time coming, I think, for this area,” Board of Supervisors Vice Chair and Clover Hill District representative Chris Winslow said. “[This area], years ago, used to be a real mecca of shopping in Chesterfield, and so I think it just needs a little love now, and we’re going to put together this road map and hopefully get the investment that follows this to revitalize this area. So I’m excited about what this is going to be.”
Noxon said that the County will look to incentivize new development in the Rockwood community through the expansion of current tax abatements and performance grants, as well as demolition assistance.