Located along the James River just to the south of Richmond, Virginia, the Tree Hill town plan includes more than 2,700 housing units on 318 developable acres. Corresponding with the site’s unique topography, the plan creates a compact development footprint that preserves 213 acres as usable open space. By including housing, a school, retail space and offices in a plan that is well-connected to the greater Richmond thoroughfare network, Tree Hill will offer its residents an alternative to sprawl-style, suburban development.
The Tree Hill site has a unique history, much of which is preserved in the town plan. Prominent Native American Chief Powhatan is believed to have been an early resident of the site, and English settlers later built a farmstead there in 1775. The site is also notable for being the location of the tree where the City of Richmond surrendered to the Union Army in 1865. The original farmstead, the Native American Site, registered on the National Register of Historic Places, and the “Surrender Tree” are preserved and given prominent geographic placement within the town plan.
The plan also follows the site’s topography, which comprises three tiers of plains, rising upwards from the river. The highest tier, which offers excellent views towards the Richmond skyline, offers a significant amount of public space, including a town plaza and retail center. An amphitheater eases the transition to the middle tier of land, where many of the residential neighborhoods lie. The lowest tier, a floodplain, is preserved entirely as parkland along the Riverfront.
A network of blocks and diagonal avenues form the basis of the plan, with many of the avenues terminating at key sites and community spaces. A formal plaza marks the intersection of these avenues, and offers a central community space. The elementary school forms another landmark, and is prominently located along one of the main avenues, at the base of a tree-lined axis.
Tree Hill joins two other mixed-use projects already underway as part of an urban expansion south of downtown Richmond along the banks of the James River. On December 11, 2007 the Henrico County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously for approval of Tree Hill.