By Shelby Mertens, The Progress-Index
ETTRICK — Chesterfield County is continuing its efforts to revive one of the oldest parts of the county.
The county adopted its Virginia State University and Ettrick Special Area Plan last spring, with many of the projects still in the process.
The plan aims to grow the Ettrick area by jump starting businesses and improving housing conditions, as well as growing the university.
County Administrator J. L. “Jay” Stegmaier called Ettrick “an important economic gateway for our community.”
“The goal of that plan is to create Ettrick as a community where residents and the university work together and live together to promote a new urban-style environment that takes advantage of our community’s unique economic development opportunities, the rich history down there and the natural resources,” Stegmaier said.
Stegmaier highlighted the progress of the revitalization efforts at the Feb. 10 Board of Supervisors meeting, in which Stegmaier reported that the county’s efforts have gained momentum.
“I think the board should be quite proud of the progress in that area of the county,” he said.
Most recently, VSU’s brand new $84 million Multi-Purpose Center opened, which includes food and retail space, a sports complex, entertainment arena, wellness center, classrooms and conference rooms. The center can hold up to 6,000 people and spans 166,000 sq. ft.
Stegmaier said the Multi-Purpose Center “will serve as a great asset to the region.”
The county is currently working on the East River Road widening project, which will create a total of four lanes — two lanes on each side of the road — from Chesterfield Avenue to Dupuy Road, along with traffic signalization, street lights and sidewalks near the university. Stegmaier expects construction to finish by the end of the summer, which he said will help ease congestion.
A study by the county found that the average effective age of single family households in Ettrick is 56 years old, which is twice as much as the county’s overall average. To address this problem, the special area plan calls for new mixed-use properties along Chesterfield Avenue, with both housing and retail space.
The county is also hoping Ettrick will be the location selected for the regional multimodal passenger train station. The rail service would connect the Tri-Cities to Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina, and Washington D.C. The Ettrick station would be located at the current site of the Amtrak station.
The county is competing against two other sites, one on Boulevard in Colonial Heights and the other at Petersburg’s Collier Yard.
“We will continue to partner with VSU to promote Ettrick as a gateway to prosperity and to opportunity for our residents,” Stegmaier said.