Three years after Richmond and Henrico County laid the groundwork for the project, a multimillion-dollar conversion of a former retirement home site into low-income apartments is underway.
City and county officials joined Virginia Supportive Housing in marking the start of the $23 million redevelopment with a groundbreaking ceremony earlier this month.
Called Cool Lane Commons, the project will convert the former Seven Hills Health Care Center into 86 apartments. The one-bedroom and six-studio units will be low-income housing, that is, for residents earning 50% or less of the area’s median income, and permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless adults.
The nearly 6-acre property at 1900 Cool Lane and the 2011 Mechanicsville Turnpike straddles the city-county border, requiring separate approvals from each government that were finalized in early 2019 and allowed for up to 105 units . The property is just southeast of the turnpike interchange with Interstate 64.
VSH is developing the apartments with funding from local, state and federal sources, as well as private funds. The non-profit organization’s other local projects include the rehabilitation of New Clay House apartments in the city’s Carver neighborhood.
Cool Lane Commons involves Virginia Housing low-income housing tax credits. Other sources of funding included funding from the City’s Community Development Block Grant and Henrico.
Units will range from 500 square feet and up, and 13 will be ADA-accessible, according to a statement. All units will be eligible for project-based vouchers through the Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority.
VSH will manage the property, provide residents with onsite support services and occupy office space in the 100,000 square foot building, which will also include a community room with a kitchen, computer lab and phone room, fitness and laundry facilities.
The project was shaped with input from Faith Community Baptist Church, located across the street.
Construction began this month and is expected to be complete in the fall of 2023. KBS is the general contractor for the project, which will be built to Earthcraft Gold standards. Arnold Design Studio, based in Christiansburg, is the architect.
VSH Chairman Jason Snook said the three years between groundbreaking and city and county approvals have been spent finalizing the project, which has also been slowed by the pandemic.
“That’s a lot of the complexity of these deals,” Snook said. “It’s $23 million with various partners, and then it’s planning, architecture, zoning, getting all the approvals. All of this necessarily takes time.
“Without a doubt, the pandemic probably had an effect on that,” he added. “I’m excited to think we could actually complete the project in a year. We’re in the world and the supply chain we’re in, but that’s what we’re aiming for.
Other officials who took part in the ceremony included Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and Council President Cynthia Newbille, County Manager Henrico John Vithoulkas and Supervisor Frank Thornton, and Faith Community Baptist Church, Pastor Patricia Gould-Champ.