Large apartment project started off Merrimac Road
Crews began clearing land this week for a Montgomery County apartment complex that isn’t geared toward Virginia Tech students, but rather the area’s underserved young professionals.
The Highlands at Huckleberry Ridge will be a large, upscale complex built along the Huckleberry Trail within biking distance of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center and LewisGale Hospital Montgomery.
When all three phases of the project are complete, the complex will hold 388 apartments and 40 residential homes, making it the largest by Charlottesville-based Pinnacle Construction & Development Corporation. Rent for the one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments will range from $875 to $1,205.
The first phase of the project will make 248 apartments available by March 2015. But Pinnacle President William Park said some of the planned 11 buildings should be ready for move-in by next spring.
The complex will sit in the heavily wooded area just outside Blacksburg on Merrimac Road near its intersection with Hightop Road. Some neighbors protested the location when the complex’s rezoning application went before the county planning commission in 2011. More than 100 people signed a petition to stop the project, arguing the housing project will be too densely populated and the winding Merrimac Road won’t be able to accommodate the traffic, among other concerns.
But traffic studies by the developers, which were reviewed by the Virginia Department of Transportation, concluded the complex wouldn’t cause enough congestion to cause concern.
“It certainly may have some impact, but not enough impact to change the level of service on these roads,” Park said.
Continuing, he said: “There’s a void of a luxury product in that area. There are a lot of apartments, a lot of student apartments. But the type of building and amenities that we’re offering are more upscale, more luxury-oriented.”
Park hopes the complex will attract residents who work at Virginia Tech, Radford University, the CRC and LewisGale.
Even though the CRC is in Blacksburg, research center President Joe Meredith said that over the past 10 years the majority of the park’s employees have moved to Christiansburg where they can find more affordable housing options for nonstudents. But development projects like this have the potential to turn that trend around.
“I think we’re in transition,” Meredith said. “Now that [the CRC has] 2,700 people working here, it is changing the demographics of the community.
And it’s changing the kinds of businesses, like restaurants and bars, that will appeal to a young professional.”
Meredith cited the popular economic development mantra of “live, work and play.” He said the CRC has developed programs to offer employees opportunities under the auspices of work and play. But when it comes to live, it needs a little help.
“The CRC doesn’t have really any interest in doing the living component of live, work and play,” Meredith said. “So it’s in our best interest, I believe, for developers to create living facilities as close as possible to the CRC.”
Highlands at Huckleberry Ridge won’t just be close to the CRC, it will also be connected by the Huckleberry Trail. That means residents could potentially bike less than two miles along the paved pedestrian path to the CRC or LewisGale.
The complex will also offer other, more typical benefits, including a clubroom, game room, exercise facility, pool, outdoor fireplace and playground. Each building will have a garage on the first floor and loft-style apartments on the top floor with an indoor balcony overlooking the living room.
“What we’re trying to establish over there, you can see from the amenities, is more of a country club type setting,” Park said. “We feel strongly that there’s no product like this in the general area.”
The Roanoke Times | 381-1661
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