With a revamped look and approval from the Richmond Architectural Review Board, a project that will add dozens of apartments above part of the Canal Crossing complex in the Shockoe area is underway.
Fulton Hill Properties, which developed and owns the two-building complex along 15th Street between Cary and Dock streets, has begun work on a two-story addition atop the former tobacco warehouse that houses Buffalo Wild Wings.
The addition will house 44 studios ranging from approximately 560 to 800 square feet. Units will include balconies and surround a central courtyard with walkways and a glass atrium.
Redesigned since the project was first submitted to CAR in early 2019, the apartments are expected to feature a more metallic-looking facade than the multicolored look originally proposed. The change is one of many made in response to CAR’s feedback over three review sessions.
Where the previous facade seemed to work on the look of the taller building in Canal Crossing at the corner of 15th and the Dock, the Approved facade looks more like the warehouse below, with a splash of rust red color meant to match the buildings in bricks nearby, according to the presentations that were given to the CAR.
Adding apartments on top of established commercial buildings is not new to Fulton Hill. The firm, led by developer Margaret Freund, undertook a similar project when it added 12 apartments above the Glavé & Holmes Architecture building at 21st and Main streets, expanding the adjacent Haxall View apartments in Fulton Hills.
“It’s like free land if you can put apartments on it and you already own it,” Freund said Tuesday, adding that the project benefits from more than 300 parking spaces that Fulton Hill has next to the building.
“I think mixed use is really beneficial when you have parking, because you have day and night parking lots,” she said.
A building permit for the addition puts the construction cost at $1.7 million. It lists the contractor as DCMC Consulting LLC, an entity registered with Michael Allshouse Sr., Vice President of Fulton Hill Construction.
Poole & Poole Architecture designed the addition. Speight Marshall Francis is the structural engineer and ONeil Engineering Services handles the mechanical, electrical and plumbing work. Roth Jackson’s attorney, Jennifer Mullen, represented Fulton Hill in its claims to CAR.
According to the minutes of the meeting, CAR members remained divided on the design of the project, ultimately voting 4 to 2 to approve the project with conditions such as simplified materials on the exterior. Some commissioners have repeated demands for a greater setback from the existing building, but Freund told the commission this would take away the amenity of the central courtyard.
The project will include a 1,100 square foot club room and an 860 square foot fitness room, as well as the apartments, which will be divided into 22 units on each floor, according to plans.
Describing the apartments as “workforce housing,” Freund said rents would be determined closer to the completion of the project, which she expects within 12 months.
“The rents there have already exceeded what I modeled them for pre-COVID,” Freund said. “They will suit the parameters of the workforce housing, as there are not many of them. These are not large units. I think they will provide good housing for the workforce.
Freund also noted the site’s proximity to the Pulse rapid bus line, train lines through Main Street Station and the Canal Walk. The site is also adjacent to the Virginia Capital Trail.
Freund developed Canal Crossing in 2002, rehabilitating the former two-story warehouse and connecting it via an atrium to the neighboring five-story building, which dates back to 1916 and was one of several buildings once owned by Philip Morris.
The apartment addition is the latest project from Fulton Hill, which in recent years completed its $40 million Artisan Hill development. In addition to Canal Crossing and Haxall View, Freund’s historic three-decade rehabilitation centers in the city include the Bottoms Up Pizza building, the former Flood Zone / Have a Nice Day Café building, Lava Lofts apartments and the Lady building. Byrd Hat.
Meanwhile, Freund, who now resides in Artisan Hill and also owns a home in Colorado, recently sold his longtime residence overlooking Libby Hill Park. The $1.4 million sale ranked fifth among the region’s most expensive residential real estate sales in February.