Pierceville plans presented

Published 5:09 pm Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Smithfield’s Town Council and Isle of Wight County’s Board of Supervisors met jointly in The Smithfield Center on Dec. 22 to receive their first official look at former Smithfield Foods Chairman Joseph W. Luter III’s plans to redevelop the former Pierceville and Little’s Supermarket properties.

Luter purchased and razed the former Main Street grocery store and 1730s-era farmhouse at 502 Grace St. in 2020, proposing to transform the 50-plus acres into a mixed-use development.

Per the presented plans, the $100 million first phase of the new development — which will be named “Grange at 10Main” — will include a 13,300-square-foot indoor/outdoor farmer’s market with 150 underground parking spaces, an additional 902 parking spaces above ground, 225 apartments, a hotel, 45 single-family homes and duplexes and 33,350 square feet of commercial space.

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The hotel and farmers market would both front along Main Street, with access roads connecting the development to Main, Grace and Cary streets. The apartment buildings would include three- and four-story elevations.

Luter and his son, Joseph Luter IV, have partnered with Venture Realty Group, the architectural firm Cox, Kliewer & Co. and the property management firm Drucker + Falk to make the proposed development a reality. According to Venture’s presentation, the first phase of the development is projected to bring over $933,000 in annual tax revenue to the town of Smithfield and an additional $1.1 million in annual tax revenue to Isle of Wight County.

It’s also projected to have an economic impact upwards of $37 million on the town, and upwards of $48 million on the county over a 30-year period assuming 2% annual growth — and create more than 60 new jobs.

The Luter family and Venture have offered to make a $1 million cash contribution to the Smithfield Farmers Market, plus an additional $1 million land contribution for green spaces and the farmer’s market, and to create public parking adjacent to the Christian Outreach Program building valued at $700,000. In return, they’re seeking public-private participation agreements from the town and county for a master infrastructure plan, and for the hotel, and $6 million toward the construction of the farmers market building.

According to Town Manager Michael Stallings, there is currently no set date for the matter to go before the town’s Planning Commission or Town Council.

Smithfield’s Planning Commission was already planning to hold a public hearing in January on a proposed change to the town’s zoning ordinance that would permit mixed-use developments like the Grange to exist.

Town staff had informed the commissioners in December that the “planned corporate office and research district” zoning designation specified in Article 3.J2 of the town’s ordinance is not assigned to any parcel located within the town’s borders, nor is any developer seeking that particular zoning designation. As such, they’re proposing to replace the PCOR zoning option with one that would allow planned mixed-use development, or PMUD.

A draft of the proposed ordinance changes states the new zoning option would allow single-family attached and detached dwellings, multi-family residential dwellings, bed-and-breakfast lodging, retail stores and other uses to coexist on a single parcel, provided the lot measures at least 5 acres in size.

It would also allow four- and five-story buildings, setting a maximum height of 60 feet except where the lot would border a residential district. All other zoning options in town currently cap buildings at a maximum height of 35 feet.

The listed business types would be by-right uses, meaning no Planning Commission or Town Council approval would be needed for a developer to pursue those uses once a parcel is successfully rezoned to PMUD. Some uses, however, such as schools, churches and accessory apartments within a residential dwelling would still require special use permits.

The public hearing on the ordinance changes has been scheduled for Jan. 11 during the Planning Commission’s regular scheduled meeting. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in The Smithfield Center at 220 N. Church St.

Should the proposed ordinance changes be approved, Luter would still need to request his land be rezoned to PMUD, which would necessitate he present his development plans to the Planning Commission and eventually to Smithfield’s Town Council for discussion.