There’s more development activity set for downtown Anchorage, which has been slowly transforming itself over the last couple of years. This time, Village Solutions plans to convert two historic structures and build several new buildings in an effort to create a unique office development centered around a formal English courtyard. The property once belonged to Belleview Home, but was recently sold for redevelopment.
Village Solutions plans to eventually build three new Jeffersonian-style structures to match the historic architecture, anchored by Boone Hall, the original girl’s dormitory at Bellwood. The development, dubbed Bellegrove strives to preserve and protect the environment and create an abundance of green space and gardens. Developer Rick Hill envisions 5 buildings in a botanical garden setting with groves of 100 year old trees all around. Already, a creative center is finishing up construction and a reproduction facility for large-format graphics and printing is planned.
Plans call for leaving much of the 4.5 acre site open. A large “outdoor living room” will link the new structures, that, when complete, could encompass around 22,000 square feet. The site could have supported more than double the space under conventional development standards, but Hill wanted to create a special project for the historic neighborhood. He studied the original layout of the buildings to maintain a perceived master plan following Olmsted principles.
Boone Hall, built in the 1930s, has an elaborate Greek-revival facade, and a twin two-story building will be built to its side to create formal symmetry on site and reinforce a perspective toward the original Bellewood laundry facility which is also being renovated. Bellegrove will feature high-quality materials in its renovation and new construction including copper gutters and slate roofs. Rick Hill noted that the new construction will not mimic the old, but be held to the same high standards.
The project aims to be a model in handling rainwater runoff. Throughout the site, pervious brick paving will allow water to seep back into the ground, away from storm sewers. The remaining water runoff will be channeled into a wildflower and prairie grass garden with a gazebo. Hill speculates that this garden will be the largest prototype rain garden in the region and plans teaching classes where rainwater design issues will be discussed.
The initial phases of the project are expected to open by Derby this year, and a series of community events are planned around its opening. New construction will take place over time as the markets allow and office suites are for sale and lease. Spaces range from large suites to small “craftsmen cottages.” Rick Hill sees other development in Anchorage, most notably the new commercial district build by John Schnatter’s Evergreen Real Estate, as reinforcing a greater whole. The nearby walking trails and cafes will only benefit his project.
We’re glad the project reuses the historic structures and offers the potential for neighbors to work close to home. Combined with other development in the area, Anchorage is quickly becoming a walkable neighborhood, even with its park-like, rural nature. Emphasis of the formal English garden and rain gardens as a project focal point should also help highlight small scale methods of diverting rainwater runoff from our overwhelmed sewer system.
- Village Solutions Company (Official Site)
- Development Watch: The New Face of Anchorage (Broken Sidewalk)
- It takes a village: company profile (Business First)