After 15 Years, Short Pump Marches Onward

April 12, 2011

The Short Pump Village from Three Chopt Road. (Mark Newton, 2011)
The still-developing Short Pump Village is seen from Three Chopt Road. 15 years ago, this land used to be a a cow farm.

View Short Pump After 15 Developed Years in a larger map

Fifteen years ago in 1996, several landmarks of Short Pump were completed, such as Target, Ukrop’s, SkateNation, and more. In 2003, the open-air mall Short Pump Town Center was opened. Mostly completed but still under construction is the West Broad Village, built on what was once a cow farm.

Short Pump, a census-designated place, is located to the west of Richmond, Va. and is a real source of suburban development after the march westward from the West End of Henrico County. However, most of the its development has been over the past fifteen years. Since then, the area has seen great increases in population and the construction of a mall, a Wal-mart, a Target, an entire townhouse complex, and a myriad of stores. In that time, the Ukrop’s grocery store located there, a uniquely Richmond franchise, was bought out and converted to a Martin’s. That store is located within a few miles of a Kroger’s (which opened and moved to a bigger location within a few years), two Food Lion stores, the Wal-mart and Target groceries, and another Martin’s. There are three Gamestop stores within a mile of each other. In addition, the stores surrounding Short Pump Town Center continue to expand further and further towards the Goochland county border.

Short Pump, however, had never been much more than a rest stop until recently. In 1815, there was a tavern built where Wal-mart and Target are now in order to accommodate those traveling from Charlottesville to Richmond, according to Trevor Dickerson, the editor of When a pump was installed at the tavern to provide water, half of the pump was removed in order to get more from the well. Travelers would therefore reference the tavern as “the short pump’s tavern.” Soon after, Pump Rd. was built to facilitate travel, allowing for new housing and the influx of business.

Trevor Dickerson of discusses the history and transformation of Short Pump from a single gas station to a bustling business center.

Despite the amount of business in the area today, the number of people over the age of 25 who live in Short Pump is only 460 in 270 households according to 2005-2009 census data. That, on the other hand, is up from 182 residents from the 2000 census and 32 percent from 1990-2000. Furthermore, only 36 percent of those households are made up of families, all of which are at an average size of 2.44 people.

Even with less than 500 people, Short Pump is consistently busy because it’s easily accessible from I-64 and I-295 and surrounded by ever-growing populations in Glen Allen (14,544 in 2009) and the West End of Henrico County. And yet, 40 percent of those who live there are involved in educational services, health care, or social assistance, far greater than the next-highest industry census category, professional, scientific, and management; administrative; and waste management services at 14 percent. In Glen Allen, 20.4 percent are in education, health, and social services, 16.7 percent are in retail trade, and 14.2 percent are in finance, insurance, real estate, and leasing jobs.

One one hand, this makes sense: nine schools are within or near the Short Pump area, six of which have opened since 1997. Most recently is Glen Allen High School, which opened in the Fall of 2010 in order to alleviate overcrowding at Deep Run High School, which was opened just eight years prior. On the other hand, much of those who work in the retail stores commute from the Henrico County area or the wealthier Glen Allen.

Trevor Dickerson of discusses the future of Short Pump.(Download MP3)

What’s next for Short Pump, though? Most of the area is already built up, so the next logical step is a further march westward into Goochland County. “I think you’re going to see a little bit of what’s happened of what’s happened east of [Broad St.] from here,” explained Trevor Dickerson, “which is leapfrog development, where everybody right now wants to be in Short Pump, so they’re either opening a second location or closing their current stores further east on [Broad St.].”

Dickerson, however, is positive about what has already taken root there. “The life of a typical mall is anywhere between 25 and 35 years,” he said, “so I think Short Pump Town Center is going to live that out – and maybe a little bit longer – just because it’s such a regional mall, unlike Regency Square Mall,” which is currently facing declining traffic and a number of closed stores.

“I think eventually, [the mall will] fizzle out,” Dickerson said. After that, however, it’s hard to say what will happen, whether Short Pump will continue to expand and refine itself or suffer suburban decay. Wherever Short Pump is going and whether its business will thrive is unclear. But, as Dickerson put it, “It’ll be interesting to see what happens.”