HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Henrico County has given final approval to a plan to demolish an aging office building in Willow Lawn to make way for a mixed-use apartment block with 160 units.

The project, which straddles the border of Henrico and Richmond on Staples Mill Road and Augusta Avenue, will add one and two bedrooms apartments but is explicitly blocked from including three-bedroom units.

Restrictions on the number of three-bedroom apartments are very common in Henrico development cases, reflecting a development pattern that persists across the Richmond region. The region has seen a rapid rise in the number of one-bedroom and studio rental units since 2016, while the number of two- and three-bedroom units has actually fallen.

(Courtesy of the Partnership for Housing Affordability)

That can make finding housing difficult for families who cannot afford the down payment necessary to afford a home — which have themselves become inaccessible to the average resident.

The building itself will be a “5-over-1” design, that is, five stories of residential units over a ground floor commercial space. The building will also include two stories of parking on the interior, totaling 168 spaces.

The five floors of residential units will generally follow the floor plan shown here, which includes a courtyard with a pool. (Courtesy of Henrico County)

The building is located adjacent to the popular Willow Lawn shopping center, and will include 4,600 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor.

The existing building is an office built in 1962, which was sold in 2021 for $1.3 million. Because the parcel straddles the city line, it is also subject to a parallel rezoning in Richmond.

The proposal invited little notice at the March 14 meeting when the board of supervisors gave it the final stamp of approval, and notes int he staff report said that a community meeting held in advance of the board’s consideration had no attendees.