By Callie Collins
Mechanicsville locals are expecting to receive a number of new neighbors after 2020, to fill 207 apartments of the impending luxury complex, Cambridge Square Apartments. Plans include five buildings surrounding a courtyard filled with amenities including a pool, pavilion, grilling station, dog park, and lawn for leisure and events.
Though developer Larry Shaia ensures and emphasizes quality in this new complex, a community meeting held at Lee Davis High School revealed some of citizens’ concerns with the plan. The major dilemma: traffic.
Cambridge Square, modelled after Shaia’s Charleston Ridge complex, is set to be built behind Food Lion and Goodwill, next to Lee Davis road and Mechanicsville Turnpike. To allow residents access in and out of the apartments, a connector road will be built between the two roads. Locals who take Lee Davis Road on the way to and from work all pointed to the fact that there was substantial traffic in this area already, and though Shaia claimed they were “building it to help”, the connector would only aggravate things, especially without a traffic light. With new residents, there will be an estimated 160 trips added to the intersection of 360 and Lee Davis Road. Traffic data and estimates are measured coinciding with the school season.
Among other things, attendees expressed adamant displeasure with the idea of even more traffic in a congested area already worsened by the 6-year construction plan on 360. Bombarded with comments, Shaia attempted to ease minds by pointing to positivity in his decision. An apartment complex would bring 31% less traffic than the alternative: a development of a business area, with a medical office building, grocery store, and fast food restaurant. Furthermore, it is estimated that new residents would add 113 students to the school system’s underpopulated student body, a number that would still not reach the schools’ full capacity.
Minds were not completely settled by the end of the meeting full of rapid fire debate. Local Mike Marchelletta is concerned for the image he and his family had of a quiet home in rural Virginia. “I just think they’re putting the cart before the horse. The city is coming to the country.” Marchelletta feels that the hasty project is expediting the expanding urbanization occurring in the area. “I think there’s something to be said for keeping the country rural. My family and I came here to have house on a nice plot with a yard.” He added that often buildings are too big for their lots, taking away from the sense of “country” that open air and land brings.
With development pending, the old-fashioned Mechanicsville area is likely to change. Cambridge Square will lead the rush.