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2017-03-01 / Featured / Real Estate

Board OKs water park development

BY JIM McCONNELL STAFF WRITER

After a roller coaster year for developers Brett Burkhart and Derek Cha, last week the Board of Supervisors finally approved their plans to build a whitewater adventure park on Genito Road – the first of its kind in the Richmond region.

“It has been a long process, but a very fruitful one,” Burkhart said after last week’s vote. “Every step made the project better. This is something that will be good for the county.”

Outdoor recreation – specifically, a man-made lake for cable skiing, a whitewater rafting course, a zip line and a rock climbing wall – will be the main attraction at Waterford Park.

The developers’ plan also includes up to 250,000 square feet of commercial space, as many as 790 residential (apartment and townhouse) units and an outdoor amphitheater for small concerts, all connected by a network of shared-use paths.

Burkhart and Cha plan to build restaurants, retail shops and perhaps even a hotel on the 105-acre property, which is adjacent to state Route 288 and less than a mile from River City Sportsplex, which the county purchased last year for $5.6 million.

“The variety of uses here allows our citizens to live, work, play and shop in one place,” said Chris Winslow, supervisor for the Clover Hill district, where the project is located. “It will become a destination for people across Chesterfield and the region.”

County leaders hope Waterford Park will generate much-needed commercial development around the sportsplex, a collection of turf fields that each year hosts thousands of out-of-town visitors for youth sports tournaments, generating millions in economic impact.

Last week, the county announced it had agreed to terms with Corrigan Sports Enterprises to keep two of the nation’s largest girls lacrosse showcase tournaments, the Capital Cup and the Champions Cup, at River City Sportsplex through 2020.

“We want to showcase Chesterfield County as a sports tourism destination … not a place you drive through, but a place to come to,” County Administrator Joe Casey said in a statement.

Waterford Park also aligns with the Board of Supervisors’ goals to increase mixed-use development and diversify the county’s tax base.

The developers’ proposal, however, was heavily scrutinized.

To win approval from the board last week, they had to address a variety of concerns, particularly noise and traffic.

Burkhart and Cha commissioned a study that showed most of the noise from the amphitheater will be directed toward the adjacent highway and industrial area, minimizing its impact on Brandermill and other nearby subdivisions. They also have committed to making several improvements to the transportation network around the property, such as adding a stoplight at its main entrance on Genito Road.

The developers must treat the water in the whitewater attraction, which is separate from the man-made lake, to state health department standards for public pools.

They also have agreed to a phasing plan that requires them to build a certain amount of commercial space before they can obtain county building permits to move forward on the apartments and townhouses.

In response to citizens’ concerns, Winslow imposed one final condition last week that prohibits the use of outdoor speakers for concerts at Waterford Park between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and between midnight and 7:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

“We feel very comfortable guaranteeing all of those things because we were going to do all of it anyway,” Cha said. “We put it in writing to satisfy the county.”

Brandermill resident Marie Stella was the lone speaker in opposition to the developers’ application during a public hearing last week. She cited traffic, noise and the impact of adding more children to an already overcrowded Swift Creek Elementary.

“We don’t want this big housing development next to us. We don’t want the traffic and the noise. These are all things that affect our community,” she said.

The Brandermill Community Association’s board of directors submitted a letter to the county in support of Waterford Park. The project also received support from several citizens and leaders of the local business community.

“It’s unconventional, yes, but if we continue looking for what’s traditional, I think we’ll become irrelevant,” said Danna Markland, president of the Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce. “Let’s be exceptional.”

Construction on the first phase of the project – including the main lake, amphitheater, sidewalks and 20,000 square feet of commercial space – is expected to begin next year. ¦

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