As bulldozers are moving dirt for the new Topgolf facility on Westwood Avenue just north of Tomlynn Street in Henrico County, two local commercial real estate developers are starting to make plans for the adjacent Sears Outlet building that they own.
Henrico also is taking a broader approach to the area — studying possible development and redevelopment of 500-acre section of the county bounded by Westwood Avenue, West Broad Street, Staples Mill Road, Bethlehem Road and Interstate 195.
“The timing of the Rebkee project couldn’t be more appropriate. We are actually on Tuesday presenting an area study to the Board of Supervisors for what we are calling the Westwood Study Area,” Henrico Manager John Vithoulkas said Wednesday.
“Rebkee, what they have done with Topgolf, that was probably the spark. We are starting to see a lot of interest in more projects potentially coming out of the ground,” Vithoulkas said.
The Westwood area could become the next Scott’s Addition, the nearby section of Richmond that has transformed in the past decade from manufacturing and industrial to mixed use with offices, restaurants and apartments.
The 55,450-square-foot, three-story Topgolf golf complex will have multilevel driving ranges and include a bar and dining area and outdoor terraces. It should be completed next fall.
Development companies The Rebkee Co. and Lynx Ventures are selling the nearly 14-acre parcel to Topgolf. The deal closed Friday.
The Rebkee Co. and Lynx Ventures are planning to turn the Sears Outlet building into mixed use with space for offices and other uses. The developers bought the 215,000-square-foot building and 12-acre site in September 2017.
Sears Outlet remains open and occupies about 40,000 square feet of that building. It has a lease on its space until the end of 2022, Gregory said. But the leases on spaces occupied by other Sears entities — totaling about 66,000 square feet — end in March.
The rest of the building is slated for redevelopment.
“Topgolf is so big we think that is going to be the tail wagging the dog for how this area transitions,” said Rick Gregory of Lynx Ventures.
“I think we will get restaurants and experiential users,” said Rob Hargett of The Rebkee Co. The warehouse space also could be used for last mile distribution, he said.
“We will look at pretty much any uses that make sense,” Hargett said.
The county’s role would be in making improvements to roads and sidewalks. Work to repave roads in the area has begun, Vithoulkas said.
“We have some sidewalk enhancements we are looking at, streetscape improvements we potentially hope to put forward, all of that coming from this study. Right now, there seems to be a lot of interest. It’s not interest in one particular type of project. There’s interest in residential. There’s interest in office and also some interest in mixing up some uses,” he said.
“I think the proximity to Scott’s Addition and the recent enhancements in transit are really going to make this one of the areas that we will see continued development in the county and what I see as quality development.”
Vithoulkas said the study will be presented at the board’s work session Tuesday. There will be a series of public hearings with the opportunity for public comment, he said.