Online used auto retailer Carvana Co. wants to put a huge inspection and reconditioning center off Interstate 95 in southern Chesterfield County.

The proposed project would be on 180 acres along Woods Edge Road and I-95 near Ruffin Mill Road.

The center would eventually employ a total of about 500 workers on two shifts, several county sources said.

For the project to move forward, the property needs to be rezoned and it needs to receive a conditional use permit since the site primarily will be used to store vehicles.

Richmond attorney Andrew M. Condlin with Roth Jackson Gibbons Condlin PLC submitted the requests to the Chesterfield Planning Department two months ago.

The Arizona-based retailer’s name does not appear on application. The project is being fast-tracked with a code-name as Project Utopia in Chesterfield documents.

Condlin declined to comment on who is behind Project Utopia or other details about the project.

Condlin had represented Carvana when the company sought approval for a 71-foot-tall car vending machine in Short Pump in western Henrico County in 2016. The company withdrew that proposal after neighboring property owners voiced concerns about light that would have emanated from the eight-level tower.

Condlin and Todd Ward, a development manager for WAVYRE LLC, a subsidiary of Carvana, provided details about the project, including naming Carvana as the project’s owner, during a presentation to a neighborhood group last week.

Ward could not be reached for comment. A Carvana spokeswoman said the company did not have “any information to share at the moment.”

Garrett Hart, Chesterfield’s economic development director, talked briefly about Project Utopia on Tuesday morning during ChamberRVA’s Chesterfield Business Council’s panel discussion on the county’s business growth this year and beyond.

Hart did not say who was behind the project, but during the meeting he provided some small details such as the development would have about 500 jobs.

A public hearing before the Planning Commission was scheduled for June 18, but on Tuesday Condlin said that hearing has been deferred to July 16. The proposal also would go before the Board of Supervisors for final approval.

Plans call for a 191,000-square-foot building and about 40 acres of storage, according to rezoning documents.

No sales will be conducted at the facility, and the public will not be able to go there to pick up a vehicle after ordering one on the Carvana website. The site would not have one of the company’s signature automobile-dispensing towers.

Instead, the reconditioning center would take used cars that the company acquires and put each vehicle through a 150-point inspection process and minor body repair to get it ready for sale. Once a vehicle is certified, the company uses automated photo booths that capture a 360-degree exterior and interior virtual tour of each vehicle to be added to the company’s website inventory.

A vehicle is stored on the site until it is delivered to a customer’s home, a designated location or to one of the company’s signature automobile-dispensing towers.

Carvana operates six inspection and reconditioning centers — in Georgia, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona, Indiana and Ohio, the company’s regulatory filings show. The retailer says in those filings that it holds the significant majority of its inventory at these six locations.

Last year, the company, when it had five centers, inspected and reconditioned about 250,000 cars, the regulatory filings show.

The centers provide fulfillment to 100 metropolitan areas across a substantial portion of the U.S., the company said in its filings.

Carvana expanded to the Richmond market in June 2016 by offering its vehicle delivery service.

It began offering that delivery service to four Mid-Atlantic markets on May 15 to Charlottesville and Roanoke and to Hagerstown, Md., and Salisbury, Md.

It now offers what it calls its as-soon-as-next-day vehicle delivery in 131 markets across the U.S.

Another way to get a vehicle from Carvana is from the company’s car vending machine where customers can automatically retrieve a vehicle from the tower. Carvana has 18 of these towers in markets including Raleigh, N.C., and Washington, D.C.

Last year, the company blanketed the Richmond region with dozens of billboards along I-95, Interstate 195 and Interstate 64 advertising its e-commerce car buying service.

Get our FredBiz Newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.
Load comments