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‘GreenCity’ could spur multimodal transportation improvements

Henrico GreenCity render: I-95, I-295 and Parham Road are all identified as boundaries of the development
Henrico County
The proposed GreenCity development in Henrico County is shown in a rendering.

The mixed-use development will connect area trails, parks.

Henrico County officials are planning a range of infrastructure improvements to accommodate the planned GreenCity development near the intersection of Parham Road and Interstate 95.

County officials said the “eco-district” development will connect parks, trails and open spaces on about 200 acres that formerly housed the headquarters of defunct home-goods retailer Best Products. The project is set to include retail space, offices, housing and more.

“It's definitely going to be a little bit denser over there,” said Michael Aust, assistant division director of Henrico’s Transportation Development Division.

The department is also preparing for a forthcoming 17,000-seat arena that will anchor the development.

“For us, when we see a 17,000-person arena come in, we're more interested about how do we move people in and out of that area,” he said.

Aust said with so many people potentially driving to the arena, one of his goals is to make sure it’s easy to take public transit, walk or bike to the area.

“The GreenCity initiative is really to have people being more walkable, bike friendly,” Aust said. “What we're looking at is how do we connect. We have the Fall Line Trail, which is a huge project for us that’s about to go in. And where and how do we connect over to GreenCity, so that we can just have a whole bunch of connection throughout the county.”

The transportation department is also working to help GRTC expand its route, so transit riders also have access to the space, Aust said. Currently, the closest bus route ends at the intersection of Brook Road and Azalea Avenue in Richmond, about 3.2 miles away from the GreenCity site.

“Our focus is certainly, ‘Hey, let's look up Brook Road. Let’s look over at Route 1 and see if we can make that connection as well,’” Aust said. “That's then what will help that arena quite a lot is making those connections.”

But for those who do drive, Aust said many of the area’s connector roads likely will be upgraded.

“We're anticipating as the development comes in, a lot of the roads that go with it will be upgraded,” he said. “And all we'll really be doing is kind of making sure that our connectors to the interstate are upgraded as well.”

Last month, the Henrico County Board of Supervisors approved the creation of the GreenCity Development Authority. A county press release said the group will oversee the financing of the public infrastructure improvements with funding expected to come from the sale of bonds issued by the county’s development authority and repaid with revenues generated by development.

Ian M. Stewart is the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.