Developer J.P. Williamson with Octagon Partners represents one of the companies breaking ground at the Hollymead Town Center.

“We are developing on 78 acres what other people in Albemarle County are using 700 acres for, so in terms of density this will probably be one of the highest density developments Albemarle will see,” explained Williamson.

The concept is to turn the property into a lifestyle center where one can work, play, shop and dine all within steps of their front door, and the plans call for much more than that. Developers hope to build a full service hotel on the three-acre site soon, which Williamson says is vital to the success of a town center.

“It creates a more 24/7 type atmosphere with you've got people coming into the market and staying here, helping with the retail, helping to support their services," said Williamson.

David Slutzky serves on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and has vast experience when it comes to development. He says the project’s goal is to increase the area’s density in a way that’s sane.

“In 1980, Albemarle decided to control growth in growth areas for two reasons: first, it was much more efficient to for building infrastructure when everything was concentrated close together, second…to protect the rural areas of the county,” said Slutzky.

Albemarle County has upped the ante when it comes to their proffer policy, which makes it more expensive per unit for a developer to build in a growth area. But sometimes those proffers don't bring in enough revenue to meet infrastructure demands. So what are county leaders to do?

“You either fund the infrastructure through taxation or you find it on the backs of the developers or you do without it. Richmond won't give local governments in Virginia the authority to charge the developers and so the only choice we have is to either raise taxes or not building the infrastructure, and sadly what Albemarle County has been choosing to do is lower taxes and not fund infrastructure,” said Slutzky.

And what about affordable housing?

“What Albemarle did a number of years ago was set a policy that if a developer wants to develop in our growth areas, they are obligated to build fifteen percent affordable housing units,” said Slutzky.

Octagon Partners is doing more than that. The county just gave them the green light for 1,200 residential units and they are committed to making 20 percent of those affordable housing units.

“I think the American dream is different for different people, but I am seeing more and more lifestyle centers becoming successful in many markets,” said Williamson.

And soon all of the construction will give way to a more relaxed, convenient and environmentally friendly way of life at Hollymead Town Center.

Reported by Crystal Cameron

Developer J.P. Williamson with Octagon Partners represents one of the companies breaking ground at the Hollymead Town Center.