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Highwoods Properties hopes to begin next phase of development at Innsbrook in 2013

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By Paula C. Squires

The first phase of development for a new, urban feel at Innsbrook Corporate Center could begin next year if Henrico County moves on a rezoning application next month. 
Paul W. Kreckman, vice president for Highwoods Properties Inc. in Richmond, told a gathering Tuesday of the Greater Richmond Association for Commercial Real Estate (GRACRE) that Highwoods is ready to proceed with developing the first phase of 40 acres, as a model of sorts, for what would be a new mixed-use product in the suburban office park. 

“We hope to receive the rezoning by the end of the year. I would hope by next year we could start building on that part of the property,” Kreckman told about 170 real estate professionals who turned out for a GRACRE meeting at the Country Club of Virginia in Richmond.

Kreckman and Sidney Gunst Jr., president of Innsbook Associates LLC and the developer behind Innsbrook when it began 30 years ago, shared information and commentary on Innsbrook Next, the tagline for the next generation of development for the region’s second largest employment center. About 22,000 people work at the center off West Broad Street in the Short Pump corridor.

Henrico County amended its land use plan in September 2010 to allow a mixed-use designation in the Innsbrook corridor. Raleigh-based Highwoods, a real estate investment trust and one of the center’s largest property owners, has submitted a rezoning application for mixed uses on 40 acres that will come before the county’s planning commission on Oct. 11. If the commission recommends approval, the application would then move to the Board of Supervisors for a vote at its meeting on Nov. 13. However, if the commission defers action, the application probably wouldn’t come before the board until 2013.

According to the commission’s office, the application seeks 2.3 million square feet of development that could include residential, office and retail. Of that development, up to 50 percent, or about 1.16 million square feet, would be residential, in keeping with Henrico’s preference to balance commercial/residential growth at a 50/50 ratio. 

Overall, Highwoods wants to rezone 188 acres over the next 20 to 25 years, as part of plans that call for an additional 3.5 million square feet of office space, 415,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, up to 1,000 hotel rooms and 6,000 apartments and condominiums. The idea is to create a walkable environment where people could work, live, shop, and play.

Kreckman said the company has been working closely with the county, community groups and business owners in Innsbrook. While some surrounding property owners have concerns about the denser development, others are excited about the plan and want to become more integrated with Innsbrook.  “The business community is excited,” he added, “and has come up with some interesting ideas about the new social aspects.”

The transition from suburban to mixed use would include a new grid system of public and private roads, five urban villages and the retention of Innsbrook’s lakes and green spaces. “It’s not high-rise development, but it is closer development,” Kreckman said. “It would bring things closer together in a more urbane type of development.”

Some of the new development would be done on what is now parking space, enabling Innsbrook to use current infrastructure.  “What we have going for us is a great location and lots of infrastructure,” said Gunst. “Spread the infrastructure, use the property 24/7, and make the numbers work.”

Asked how parking garages would be financed since Henrico does not allow tax incremental financing ―used by many commercial developers ― Kreckman said the private sector would have to shoulder the cost for garages. 




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