Redeveloping vacant retail space isn’t limited to Hampton Roads malls.
The owners of a Virginia Beach shopping center plan to convert several buildings into market-rate apartments, a clubhouse and a pool. A representative of the owners presented a plan to create 322 apartments at KempsRiver Crossing to the Virginia Planning Commission on December 14th.
For years, the strip mall along Indian River Road near Interstate 64 has struggled to attract tenants, RJ Nutter, an attorney representing owner Bonney’s Corner Associates, said at the meeting. He said about half the space was empty.
“The problem they were facing is the same problem faced by many large shopping centers across the country, especially in the Hampton Roads area,” said Nutter.
The facility, which currently has approximately 220,000 square feet of retail space on approximately 20 acres, will be converted into a mix of residential and retail. Under the plan, three out of five current retail buildings will be partially or completely replaced with apartments. Additionally, part of the indoor parking lot will be replaced by an apartment building.
The upgraded center will still have 81,150 square feet of existing retail space, and the intact buildings will include the current sites of a Planet Fitness gym, Panera Bread and Outback Steakhouse.
Nutter said all existing tenants were notified of the redevelopment plans as of this week. They will be given the opportunity to stay in their building or move to another place in the center if their building is improved,” he said.
At the meeting, tenant Luvenia Hankins, owner of CLTRE. | The Vegan Joint cafe, said that the property managers did not know anything about the plans when he asked them recently, and he was contacted by customers. After the meeting, Hankins said he was still deciding whether to stay at KempsRiver.
“I will make a decision in a few months when more information comes out,” Hankins said in an Instagram message.
The redevelopment will generate less traffic than the current mall, according to a traffic impact memorandum reviewed and approved by city staff. It will reduce the number of average daily trips on Kemps River Drive and Fordham Drive from 10,292 to 6,565.
The developer plans to implement a stormwater system with filtration equipment where possible and plans to participate in a stormwater management plan. Plans to add green space and reduce pavement or ground cover structures can also help manage runoff. A developer can also purchase outdoor element credits, which are certified parcels of land that can be purchased if the project cannot meet the stormwater absorption requirements of the area.
Still, the plan drew criticism during the meeting from several Lake James residents, who said the plan doesn’t do enough to filter and capture stormwater. Runoff from the site enters an adjacent 94-acre property.
But planning commissioner Dave Redmond said the redevelopment would have better stormwater quality than the current site.
“Progress is about getting better,” Redmond said at the meeting. “It gets better.”
The project has been two to three years in the making, Nutter said, and the developer hasn’t yet covered all the costs.
Commissioners approved the project, and the Virginia City Council will review the plans next year.
Trevor Metcalfe, 757-222-5345, firstname.lastname@example.org