HopeTree campus in Salem potential site for major development project

It could be the city’s largest residential community with hundreds of homes, a hotel, offices and restaurants

SALEM, Va. – HopeTree Family Services is looking at selling a portion of its campus land for a major development project.

The proposal calls for up to 340 homes, 60 hotel rooms, 15,000 square feet of office space and 7,500 square feet of restaurant space.

Jon Morris, CEO and President of HopeTree, is excited about the potential of what could come.

“I think the developers are looking to really bring something that’s not only quality housing, quality design but something that’s going to be very functional and accentuate the community,” Morris said.

HopeTree was created back in 1890 by Virginia’s Baptist churches to serve orphaned youth.

“At our peak when we were an orphanage, we would have about 450 kids on this campus living with us,” Morris said. “The most we can have on our campus today are 16 residents at any one time.”

It’s unknown whether the project will be approved, as some nearby residents are opposed to it. The traffic impacts are still being sorted out and city council needs to ultimately approve a rezoning request.

HopeTree contacted adjacent property owners as far back as October 2022 for input. Those exchanges led to consideration of the need for the project to have trails because adjacent neighborhoods lack sidewalks or trails.

Michael Bentley lives just down the street from the property. He, like many of his neighbors, have signs out in their yards reading “We Stand Together Against HopeTree Rezoning.”

“Having thousands of people living at the other end of this street is going to change the entire character of our neighborhood,” Bentley said.

Current zoning allows for the construction of 200 single-family homes.

“I would like it to be kept in a largely natural state, tolerating the 200 houses they can build,” Bentley said.

HopeTree does not see itself as the developer. It would continue to own about 25 acres, with the rest, 37 acres, going to the developers.

The City Planning Commission will consider rezoning the HopeTree property on Feb. 14 at the Salem Civic Center.

About the Author

Connor Dietrich joined the 10 News team in June 2022. Originally from Castle Rock, Colorado, he's ready to step away from the Rockies and step into the Blue Ridge scenery.

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