Craige Shelton was stressed but still able to laugh between near constant telephone calls and managing the work of multiple contractors and construction workers getting homes in the River Mill development ready for Homearama.
He was 2½ weeks away from the homebuilding and design showcase that kicks off June 1 and runs on certain days through June 16.
“It is a crazy mess out here, a lot to get done in a little bit of time, but we’re getting there,” said Shelton, the project manager for River Mill, a new 250-acre master-planned residential development under construction in northern Henrico County near Virginia Center Commons mall.
“It’s fun. ... When Homearama happens all these houses will be done, landscaping will be done, the park pavilion will be done, and our entrance will be landscaped and signed,” he said.
Presented by the Home Building Association of Richmond, Homearama will showcase the sprawling development and the work of four homebuilders — HHHunt Homes, LeGault Homes, LifeStyle Home Builders and Schell Brothers.
“What’s unique about River Mill is how many different product types are here and how many different builders,” Shelton said.
“We have four different builders, and we have multiple lot sizes. ... There are a lot of different price points for anybody in the market. And this location is great. The Chickahominy River wraps like a big U around the north side of the property. The river view — we are going to do trails and nature trails along it. It’s really beautiful,” Shelton said.
The development is a short distance from Interstate 295 at Brook Road and from Interstate 95 at the Sliding Hill Road exit.
Plans call for River Mill to have 906 residences — 356 single-family homes, 265 town homes and 285 apartments. As of May 23, a total of 76 homes had been sold — 26 single-family homes and 50 town homes.
In addition to an extensive trail system, the development will offer a clubhouse, pool, play area and parks.
Danna Markland, CEO of the Home Building Association of Richmond, said Homearama this year features “neo-traditional” housing and design.
“There is a diversity of streetscapes and product mix. ... The market is asking for more diversity of housing stock in master-planned communities,” Markland said.
The development also is an option for people who want to be in Henrico for the schools, for instance, but don’t want to be in the hot spot of the Short Pump area, she said.
“It is in a location desired by the market, and it is a great price point, which is different this year,” said Markland, who explained that Homearama has in some years featured pricier homes.
“This year, there is more an affordability aspect. ... It’s a great show to actually look for buying a home,” she said.
Homearama in 2018 featured homes in the $800,000 to million-dollar range. In 2017, the homes showcased ranged from $550,000 to $749,000, with most in the $600,000s.
River Mill is being developed by HHHunt Communities, one of the largest master-planned community developers in the region. It is a division of HHHunt Corp., which also operates HHHunt Apartment Living, HHHunt Homes and HHHunt Senior Living.
HHHunt Communities developed The Villages of Charter Colony in Chesterfield County with 1,800 homes; and Wyndham and Twin Hickory in Henrico with 3,000 homes and 2,400 homes, respectively. Its Rutland development in Hanover County has 500 homes.
HHHunt Communities sets the vision for the community and then establishes design standards that guide the community’s look, architectural attitude and overall theme, said Kim Kacani, president of HHHunt Communities.
“Those design standards guide the builders in what they need to build. We design the commons areas, the amenities and social programming. Genesis Community Management is the homeowners’ association management company. They are at the table with us as we are designing, helping us determine how these common areas will be used, how the community will live,” Kacani said.
The apartments, called Belmont at River Mill, will be built by Virginia Beach-based Kotarides, a development, building and property management company that has developed more than a dozen apartment communities in Virginia and North Carolina. Kotarides bought 21.3 acres of the River Mill property from HHHunt in December 2016 for $6 million.
A plan of development for the apartments calls for 10 three-story buildings and three two-story buildings with garages, a clubhouse and three stand-alone, one-story garages. A Kotarides official declined to comment about when the apartment complex would start, but HHHunt officials said the project might start next year.
Of the town homes, 165 are being built by HHHunt Homes, with sale prices ranging from the upper $200,000s to the mid-$300,000s for units that are 1,517 square feet to 2,418 square feet in size.
The remaining 100 town homes will be handled by another builder.
Single-family home prices vary. LeGault and LifeStyle are doing higher-end homes on larger lots. LifeStyle’s homes start at $450,000, according to the company website.
Terisa LeGault, wife of LeGault Homes founder Pat LeGault, described the 3,755-square-foot LeGault-built model home that will be open during Homearama as having a modern farmhouse style with “a little edge.” The front facade has a mix of neutral colors and textures.
“I believe it will appeal to a wide variety of people. ... The floor plan will work for anybody. The whole concept is open,” LeGault said.
The disappearing or pocket doors that open to the front porch and to a back porch are one wow feature.
“It’s just this unique entertaining space,” she said. “People can have those doors open and entertain on the front porch or back porch.”
Schell Brothers’ homes range from $399,000 to $449,000, while HHHunt Homes start in the mid-$300,000s.
On the other hand, the homes have bells and whistles such as rear porches and optional theater rooms for the homebody types.
“We have multiple floor plans, lots of structural options,” said Maureen Church, a sales manager at LifeStyle Home Builders. The company’s “Olivia” home design will be featured at Homearama.
River Mill will bring a lot more households to the Virginia Center Commons area, which could be a boon to the retail in the vicinity.
The Magnolia Ridge community is located south of the River Mill development.
Just to the east of River Mill is Verena at the Glen, an active-lifestyle retirement community off Brook Road, while River Mill’s western edge is adjacent to Lavender Fields Herb Farm and A Thyme to Plant Herb Farm.
Virginia Center Commons, which in recent years has lost most of its anchor tenants and many of its smaller shops inside the mall, is across Brook Road.
A shopping center anchored by a Target store and a Publix supermarket is across Brook Road from the mall. Other strip shopping centers along Brook Road have such tenants as Pier 1, Barnes & Noble, Ross Dress for Less and Best Buy.
“Rooftops drive retail. So River Mill is the center point of a growing community that is in demand,” Markland said.
Road improvements in the area are part of the River Mill project.
Henrico and HHHunt each are constructing segments of a 1.4-mile extension of Woodman Road, which now ends at Greenwood Road near I-295. The extension will go from Greenwood Road and connect with Jeb Stuart Parkway near Brook Road.
The county is in the design stage and acquiring easements, and is projected to begin construction of its segment, which is about a third of a mile closest to Greenwood Road, this summer, said Steve Yob, Henrico Public Works director.
The county segment will cost an estimated $5.7 million to construct.
There will be land to expand the two-lane road to four lanes in the future if traffic counts get high enough, he said.
HHHunt has begun constructing its portion. The road will include an adjacent multiuse trail separated by a grass median from the road
It will go by Glover Park, formerly called Greenwood Park, a 200-acre, county-run sports complex with multipurpose athletic fields, a stadium, a playground and more being developed in stages.
“We hope that when we get the bike-pedestrian trail on the side of the road, we will also be able to connect that into Glover Park,” Yob said. “So park patrons will have an opportunity to ride a bicycle or take a jog, or people from the HHHunt community can do the same. They can walk to the park or take their children in their strollers to the park.”