Adults and children get in costume for Salem Baptist Church’s Bethlehem Walk. Photo by Ash Daniel
t won't be too long before people can live and work in West Creek. The business park on Route 6 is expanding, adding apartments, medical offices and retail space on 230 of its 3,500 acres in a development called Notch at West Creek. The project is being developed by West Creek Associates LLC, which owns West Creek with Riverstone Group in Richmond.
The Goochland Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the multifamily units in April; zoning was already in place for the other additions. The first 2,200 linear feet of a new 3-mile, four-lane divided parkway — similar to West Creek's Tuckahoe Creek Parkway — is under way. The parkway will access Broad Street. "We have had many inquiries from prospects interested in Broad Street," says Tommy Pruitt, managing partner of West Creek Associates. "It's a vibrant corridor. It's too much to turn your back on."
Kassinger Development Group of Charleston, S.C., is constructing the new apartment complex. "We visited their properties, and they do a very good job," Pruitt says, adding that architectural drawings are being drawn up for the medical office space as well. "We want to have people start occupying the units by next summer."
County officials are pleased with the plans, which mark the first large multiresidential property in Goochland. "I think it's great," says Matthew Ryan, the county's director of economic development. "A diversified tax base is important for sustainability."
He also is pleased that the Pruitt family, which is behind much of Short Pump's development, including the mall, is heading the project. "Everything the Pruitts have done is first class," he says. "They have high standards."
"They are trying to spur economic development," Pruitt says of the county. "They have been positive in their approach of how to get that done."
County administrator Rebecca Dickson says she believes Notch Creek "will spur additional activity and business growth in that corridor. Where it is going is where we have designated growth."
The county recognizes that development is inevitable, but it wants to check that any type of development meets the county's standards and that the county's rural character is preserved. "We are making sure that we set the tone for what is coming in the future," Ryan says. "We don't want to see concrete and brick at every corner. We want our own scale, as far as size and magnitude of the development. When you cross into the county, we want you to know you are in Goochland."
Also in Goochland, Luck Companies is starting to make plans for land it purchased from Republic Services this year that abuts the Henrico County line. It put in an application to Goochland County that includes roughly 83 acres of the northern portion of the 150-acre site. "We are not applying for anything that would allow extraction of stone from the property," says Ben Thompson, Luck's land use and development leader. "We will not have a quarry there."
The company wants to place overburden — dirt left over after uncovering stone in the Boscobel quarry — on the northern parcel.
A small portion of the parcel of land related to stone processing will be landscaped and include visual and noise mitigation elements. Luck officials have met with adjoining neighbors and Henrico's nearby West Ridge neighborhood to talk about the project. Thompson says, "Luck Stone's goal has always been and will continue to be to ensure the success and safety of others and enrich communities where we operate."
Luck hopes to have all approvals in place by the end of the year. If approved, the project will probably start in 2017 or 2018. "It will be based on market demand activity," Thompson says.
With the holiday season approaching, Salem Baptist Church is gearing up for its annual Bethlehem Walk, an interactive outdoor drama that takes you through first-century Bethlehem at the time of the birth of Jesus. The walk will be held Nov. 28 to Dec. 2. Last year, the event attracted more than 13,000 people. Virginia Gilbert, secretary at the church, says she began fielding calls about the walk in the summer, some from as far away as Pennsylvania and Texas. "Last year we had people from Israel, and they were telling us how great it was," she says.
People begin lining up at 4:30 p.m. for the 6 p.m. show. "The parking lot fills up, and we have to direct people to another lot where they can ride a shuttle bus over," Gilbert says, adding that the walk takes about 45 minutes. "We try to have at least 30 guides. If we have enough guides, we try to start a new tour every three minutes."
It takes more than 300 people to put on the event. "They are all volunteers, and most are the same people each year," Gilbert says. The event goes on despite rain, sleet or snow, she adds. "People love it when it starts snowing. It's absolutely gorgeous at night when we have the campfires all around."
My Manakin Market will hold its Holiday Market on Dec. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Broad Street Road, with farm-fresh produce, meats, cheese, eggs, baked goods, artisan-made holiday arts and crafts, plants, and a wine garden where people can sit and enjoy the wine. "We will have two tents this year," says Lisa Dearden of ChiknEGG Productions, which operates the market. "Santa will make an appearance, and we will have farm animals for the kids to pet, as well as live music and free activities for the kids."
With its first Virginia State Fair already in the record books, the Virginia Farm Bureau is preparing for next year. The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation teamed with Universal Fairs of Cordova, Tenn., earlier this year to start Commonwealth Fairs and Events, which oversees the fair held in Caroline County at Meadow Farm. After financial difficulties led to bankruptcy and liquidation last year, the fair was purchased by the new organization. "Virginia is one of the only states in the country where the state fair is not run by the state government," says Greg Hicks, vice president of communications for the bureau. "This is a 154-year-old tradition."
Next year, the organization hopes to bring in more livestock and agricultural exhibits, as well as equine shows and competitions. It also is meeting with the Museum of the Virginia Horse to talk about starting an equestrian museum on the property, where Triple Crown winner Secretariat was born and Riva Ridge, winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, was stabled.
The organization also has plans to use Meadow Farm for weddings and the Farm Bureau Center for a variety of events. "We are talking about a craft beer festival in early December, and we're also talking about having a musical festival there," Hicks says.