Chesterfield leaders participated in Wednesday's groundbreaking alongside representatives from Maggie Walker Community Land Trust, Concerned Citizens of Ettrick and other community partners.
Chesterfield and the nonprofit Maggie Walker Community Land Trust (MWCLT) cohosted a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning at the future Ettrick Landing, a 10-unit single-family subdivision that is being developed to create affordable home ownership opportunities in the village of Ettrick.
The new homes are expected to be sold for $150,000 to $180,000 -- a price point that is affordable to households earning between approximately $35,000 and $75,000 per year, or up to 80% of area median household income.
“Homes of this quality at this price point don’t exist in our market anywhere except projects like this, and we need more of them,” said Adrienne Snead, a member of the land trust’s board of directors. “We look forward to many more opportunities for collaboration. This is just the beginning.”
Housing costs have risen faster than household incomes over the last several years, creating a significant shortage of residential units across the Richmond region that are affordable to people with even moderate incomes, such as police officers, firefighters and teachers.
“Everybody needs a place to rest. Everyone wants to have a home. People need a kitchen to cook in and a place to sit to rest their bones, a place to share stories with friends and gather with family,” said Dan Cohen, director of Chesterfield’s Community Enhancement Department. “There are many families in the county who dream every day of owning a home. The realization of this project will help some of those families take their first step toward attaining what we call the American dream.”
In response, Chesterfield has embraced a multifaceted approach to increase the diversity of the county’s residential inventory and make safe, stable housing more accessible to the workforce at all points along the income continuum.
“This is not our first rodeo,” said Chesterfield County Administrator Dr. Joe Casey, noting the county has ongoing relationships with other nonprofits, including Better Housing Coalition and Project:HOMES, in addition to its collaboration with MWCLT. “Our intent as a government is we’re not necessarily in the housing business. We’re in the partnership business. Housing is an issue and has been for many years, and we’re trying to do our part.”
Matoaca District Supervisor Kevin Carroll holds the microphone for Nancy Ross, president of the Concerned Citizens of Ettrick, as she recounts the history of Dupuy Elementary School.
Ettrick Landing will be constructed on the site of the former Ettrick Elementary School Annex, which previously was known as Dupuy Elementary. Chesterfield demolished the vacant school building and conveyed ownership of the property to the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust in 2019.
The land trust’s typical model is to acquire an existing house, rehabilitate it and re-sell it, while retaining ownership of the land beneath; that reduces costs for income-qualified homebuyers and keeps the house permanently affordable even as real estate values continue to rise.
While Ettrick Landing is the first subdivision the land trust will develop from the ground up, its approach remains the same. It will continue to own the 10 lots even as the houses are sold off, enabling homeowners to build equity over time without becoming cost-burdened.
“In Chesterfield, we are committed to being a great place to work, learn, play and live. We understand all of this is possible as long as housing is affordable and accessible,” said Matoaca District Supervisor Kevin Carroll. “The land trust model is good for families and the community alike. As an affordable alternative to renting, it creates new wealth-building opportunities for our citizens and brings responsible, engaged home ownership to our neighborhoods.”
Nancy Ross, president of the local civic group Concerned Citizens of Ettrick (CCE), saluted the “collaborative efforts” between the land trust, the county government and CCE members to ensure that Ettrick Landing is developed in a manner that meets the community’s needs.
“This is a milestone. This is a beginning. This is the result of working together, growing together, working diligently and keeping a focus on the vision,” she said. “But it doesn’t stop here. We still have a lot more work to do.”
Adrienne Snead, a member of Maggie Walker Community Land Trust's board of directors, speaks at Wednesday's groundbreaking.