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200 more apartments coming to Shockoe Bottom

Al Harris January 7, 2010 10

More apartments are coming to Shockoe Bottom.

George Emerson of the Emerson Companies said his firm is breaking ground this week on a 204-unit complex at 18th and Broad streets to be called the Cedar Broad Apartments.

Emerson said the project had been in the planning and financing stages for about three years, but his development company just closed on the property about two weeks ago. The company purchased the 2.1-acre site from BAT Properties for $3.2 million. The total budget, including acquisition, is about $19 million, he said.

“As an owner, it couldn’t be a better time to be building,” Emerson said. “It’s been good for us, and we are excited.”

The building will stand four stories tall and consist mostly of one-bedroom units. It will also have 110 covered parking spaces and 8,448 square feet of retail space. The property includes an existing McDonald’s restaurant, which will remain, and the apartment building will be constructed on the rest of the block, which is currently a parking lot.

Emerson’s company recently completed a 330-unit complex in Chesterfield at Route 10 and Interstate 95 called the White Oak Apartments, which are about 80 percent leased, according to Emerson.

As for the new project in Shockoe, Emerson said he isn’t worried about filling them up.

“We already own a couple of hundred apartments down there, and they stay pretty much occupied. We’re staying at 96 to 97 percent,” Emerson said. His company also owns the 153-unit American Tobacco Center one block away.

“I think by the time we finish, we’ll be coming out of this recession.”

He said construction is expected to be complete in the spring of 2011. Walter Parks Architect served as the architect for the project, and KBS Inc. is the general contractor.

Several other projects are underway in the area, including the apartments at Richmond Cold Storage by Historic Housing and at Shockoe Valley Heights by Sensei Development. Emerson said the primary demographic for his and other projects is MCV and VCU students.

New apartment projects in Shockoe will potentially bring hundreds of residents into the area, growth that Shockoe Bottom Neighborhood Association President David Napier said he is happy to see.

“I know the businesses down here are more than ready for it,” Napier said. “It is good for the city, the tax base and the businesses that are down here.”

Al Harris covers commercial real estate for BizSense. Please send news tips to [email protected]

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  1. Formerly SBD January 7, 2010 at 7:36 am - Reply

    Yea Dave will be happy until he finds they ride the bus then not so much. The problem is that each of these Development ideas are targeted to higher priced renters. They can’t sell condos they already have in the area that are of the same Economic strata but heaven forbid these people do proper research. They listen to people like Dave who is afraid of people who ride Busses.

  2. sfd28 January 7, 2010 at 8:36 am - Reply

    You hit the nail on the head SBD… I also can’t imagine that a complex with mostly 1 bedroom units will excel in this area of town. Who actually wants to live alone in this area? Not me…

  3. Carter Snipes January 7, 2010 at 8:42 am - Reply

    SBD, not sure what the whole “busses” thing is all about. But all of these projects are great additions to the Bottom. The only problem is that Richmond with its reactionary mindset, let its Baseball team leave and all of these projects are heavy on housing and light on commercial and entertainment uses. We don’t need this district flooded with only housing. It needs to have activities and services to create a true neighborhood. Also, I know for a fact that all of the developers are going to shocked at how fast the rental rates in this district drop once all this stuff comes online. They won’t have any problem filling them, because there is plenty of demand, but they will be competing with each other for the best quality tenants, so new residents can expect to see things like free rent, free wi-fi, and little or no deposits.

  4. Robinson Street January 7, 2010 at 10:14 am - Reply

    This project sounds great. Many of those who are commenting have no clue about the demographics of this area. I have several friends who love living in this area due to it’s proximity to nightlife, restaurants, and having pretty much everything you need. There’s even a nice grocery store!…Why are they building 1 bedroom apartments? Many of the medical and dental school students I know live alone. This building, especially with the location, is ideal for that setup.

  5. Formerly SBD January 7, 2010 at 10:50 am - Reply

    The Busses thing is that David Naiper is Classest and was pushing the Ballpark but not the Bus Depot that was proposed. He and every developer around here want to make as much money as they can and ignore the fact they would do the area better providing Places to rent that were reasonable for people.
    Carter I used to live in Shockoe Bottom and I know that they will not fill those apartments when they ones they have now are seeking people. Creating a glut in the market won’t drive down the prices on existing place so we have an area that is too expensive to live in. Shockoe Bottom is a fragile Eco System which will fail to work if when the people who Serve your food and clean up after you have to be bussed in. Developers become Classest as well when they go for High rent / Expensive condo and forget there people around who are essential for things to run who need a place to live.
    I think Shockoe Bottom has potental but developers will kill it as they try to make as much money out of it as they can and forget what has been keeping it going all this time. I would have stayed in Shockoe Bottom longer but the price of living there was not worth it to me when I can own a Home and pay less in Morgage than I ever did in rent.
    David Naiper never met an Expensive Development deal he didn’t like but if they have to take the bus to travel then you have a deal breaker and yet his own businesses have been far from the success stories you want to hear about in Shockoe Bottom. I am wondering if he is still considering moving the catering business that he has to Chester ? How about the Hours at his place that was never open for the 2-3 years other than special occasions?
    Developers might want to have more focus groups and less talking to David about what might be successful in Shockoe Bottom.
    Carter if you knew the Rental Market in Shockoe Bottom and I mean the Bottom not the Slip area you would know they have plenty of places already being overcharged for what they are worth and they raise the prices every year and they will not go down just because other developments have arrived.

  6. Formerly SBD January 7, 2010 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    Robinson St
    I did live alone but all I got for close to a Grand was 600 Square feet of barely usable space, One bedroom,One Bathroom,No Parking, No Clubhouse or Outdoor space. Now I own my home and I have 1200 square feet of space with a Master Suite,2 Bedrooms, 2 Bathrooms, Washer and Dryer, Parking, and Backyard all for less per month than I payed in Rent. I have to drive more but I still can visit my favorite spots in Shockoe Bottom and not have to worry about price increases and Parking issues. I lived in Shockoe Bottom for 4 years and I would have stayed if Rent had been reasonable but that is what most rental places will not talk about is the increases each year or the drop in services when they sell you living in Shockoe Bottom

  7. Brett January 8, 2010 at 10:11 am - Reply

    Robinson Street is right, I live a few blocks away and think this is a great addition to the neighborhood. Residential has to come first and commercial will follow and there is already lots of new commercial to the area that wasn’t there 10 years ago. The reason why the grocery store and CVS and the coffee shops and restaurants in the area are open is because of all the folks who moved into Tobacco Row. The apartments were built and the commercial came with it a few years later. Also the development that is getting ready to go up across the street has commercial on the first floor that covers the entire block and there is already tons of commercial space in the area that needs to be rented that was just waiting for more traffic. I think the cold storage has commercial coming in as well. Also more people in the area means less crime. The only drawback I see is that I will have more trouble renting out my own basement apartment but it is worth it to see the progression of the neighborhood. Rents are based on demand. They will drop if there is no demand. There are not many apt. buildings in the area that are vacant so as long as people are willing to pay they will keep filling them up. People that do not live in the area would be blown away by how many mcv students walk up that hill everyday.

  8. Stuart January 8, 2010 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    I’m curious to know if the 110 parking spaces is the minimum number required by city regulations or if they added additional spots to make their future residents happy. I personally feel the city is WAY “over-parked” and I’m concerned that forcing every development to provide “x” number of spaces is driving up costs for everyone- builders, businesses, tenants, homeowners and even the city in the form of missed tax revenue that could be collected from higher uses of the space. On the other hand if the developers think the market really wants another 110 parking spots in the midst of a sea of surface parking than far be it from me to tell them what to do…

  9. Brett January 11, 2010 at 10:48 am - Reply

    Stuart, I agree, the parking requirements are ridiculous. They are starting to eliminate them in parts of the city. They just passed something in Union Hill to ease up a little. I feel that if some one wants to own a business and have limited parking then they should be allowed to do so. People want to live and play in the city but don’t want to have to park more than a block from where they are going. It’s nuts. We need more mass transit and more people biking and walking, not more parking spaces.

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