$2.3B GreenCity to break ground in 2023 near Richmond, Virginia

Dive Brief:

  • A $2.3 billion “eco district” development is set to break ground in early 2023 outside of Richmond, Virginia. The GreenCity project in Henrico County will feature office space, retail shops, over 2,000 housing units, two hotels, a 17,000-seat arena and extensive park space, according to the masterplan of the project.
  • The development will balance energy production and use while limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Strategies include using heavy timber, cross laminated timber and solar power to minimize environmental impacts. Its planning and design aims to deliver on Virginia’s goals of 30% renewable electricity by 2030 and 100% by 2050.
  • Central to the plan is a 40-acre, public park system.  A 1.5 mile-long “forest walk” will form the backbone of the open space plan which borrows from the region’s rural roots and existing forest features.

Dive Insight:

The Richmond area is bracing for major construction activity, despite recession fears surfacing regarding the U.S. economy. In addition to GreenCity, major projects in the Henrico County market include a 1.5 million-square-foot data center expansion for QTS, a Overland Park, Kansas-based REIT, and an Amazon robotics fulfillment center

Anthony Romanello, executive director of the Henrico Economic Development Authority, said Meta is also building a $2 billion data center next to the QTS site. Toymaker Lego announced a $1 billion manufacturing plant in nearby Chesterfield, Virginia. 

“What we’re seeing in the community in Henrico and in the Greater Richmond area, there’s a lot of comfort. Folks are bullish on our economy,” said Romanello. “There’s a lot of activity and I think the development community and the contracting community are very bullish on the area.” 

Despite the upbeat outlook for the region, nationwide national nonresidential construction starts plummeted 14% in June, as project owners became spooked by the likelihood of recession in an era of rising interest rates and continued volatility in materials pricing. The International Monetary Fund cut its global forecasts, warning high inflation and the Ukraine war could push the world economy into recession.

Nevertheless, nonresidential construction is better positioned to withstand economic downturns because of its longer planning and funding timelines. Richard Branch, chief economist for Dodge Construction Network, said a recession would likely “be fairly short,” and last less than a year.

“We have heard throughout the construction community that some projects have been delayed due to supply chain,” said Romanello. “What we haven’t heard is any projects that are off the table as a result of what might be happening with the economy.”

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