Developers cling to Reynolds site

Developers have signed a contract to purchase the Reynolds Metals properties along the Canal Walk to build apartments, shops and restaurants.

This would finally open up the entire length of the Canal Walk, which previously had been blocked for pedestrians at the Reynolds site.

It has been called a developer’s dream. But for two local companies the chance to redevelop one of the most desirable swaths of downtown real estate is now a few steps closer to reality.

Fountainhead Development and WVS Companies have joined forces to buy the six-acre Reynolds Packaging facility at 10th and Byrd streets in downtown Richmond. The property consists of historic properties that were originally tobacco factories and newer buildings on the property were used to manufacture aluminum foil products.

The development partners signed a contract to buy the property last week for an undisclosed amount. The property is appraised at more than $13.7 million.

Rick Gregory, a principal of Fountainhead Development, said the first phase will involve renovation of the tobacco buildings into about 200 apartment units.  Gregory said his firm teamed up with WVS, which are the developers of Rocketts Landing, to draw on each others strengths.

“Being that this site is so important and complex, it needed someone with expertise with adaptive reuse and historical tax credits which Fountainhead had, and expertise with new multi-floor construction which the Rockett’s people provide,” Gregory said.

Later construction phases will likely include a high rise, Gregory said. But any development on the site is at least a year away. Gregory said they expect to close on the property at the end of 2010 and would like to start construction in 2011. Over the next year the two firms will have to complete environmental studies as well as change the zoning. They will also have to secure all of the necessary financing.

Redevelopment of the Reynolds site would not only fulfill the dream for the developers, but also another dream held by Richmond’s leaders—a chance for the Canal Walk to rise to its full potential.

The City of Richmond completed the $52 million restoration of the Canal Walk in 1999. Properties in the district are part of a tax overlay district that funds the development and maintenance of the canal.

New businesses have opened along the canal, as well as towering residential buildings. But the amount of new businesses never reached “flood stage”, and neither did the swarms of tourists the Canal Walk was supposed to attract.

One obstacle to the Canal Walk’s success has been the Reynolds property, which is situated in the middle of the walkway and breaks it into two sections, rerouting visitors back to the street to traverse the entire path.

But Gregory said their development plan includes first floor retail space that will bring shops and restaurants alongside the canal.

“The key thing is revitalizing the canal, which is dead,” Gregory said, “We look forward to working with the city to fulfill their dream of finishing the canal walk project.”

Developers have signed a contract to purchase the Reynolds Metals properties along the Canal Walk to build apartments, shops and restaurants.

This would finally open up the entire length of the Canal Walk, which previously had been blocked for pedestrians at the Reynolds site.

It has been called a developer’s dream. But for two local companies the chance to redevelop one of the most desirable swaths of downtown real estate is now a few steps closer to reality.

Fountainhead Development and WVS Companies have joined forces to buy the six-acre Reynolds Packaging facility at 10th and Byrd streets in downtown Richmond. The property consists of historic properties that were originally tobacco factories and newer buildings on the property were used to manufacture aluminum foil products.

The development partners signed a contract to buy the property last week for an undisclosed amount. The property is appraised at more than $13.7 million.

Rick Gregory, a principal of Fountainhead Development, said the first phase will involve renovation of the tobacco buildings into about 200 apartment units.  Gregory said his firm teamed up with WVS, which are the developers of Rocketts Landing, to draw on each others strengths.

“Being that this site is so important and complex, it needed someone with expertise with adaptive reuse and historical tax credits which Fountainhead had, and expertise with new multi-floor construction which the Rockett’s people provide,” Gregory said.

Later construction phases will likely include a high rise, Gregory said. But any development on the site is at least a year away. Gregory said they expect to close on the property at the end of 2010 and would like to start construction in 2011. Over the next year the two firms will have to complete environmental studies as well as change the zoning. They will also have to secure all of the necessary financing.

Redevelopment of the Reynolds site would not only fulfill the dream for the developers, but also another dream held by Richmond’s leaders—a chance for the Canal Walk to rise to its full potential.

The City of Richmond completed the $52 million restoration of the Canal Walk in 1999. Properties in the district are part of a tax overlay district that funds the development and maintenance of the canal.

New businesses have opened along the canal, as well as towering residential buildings. But the amount of new businesses never reached “flood stage”, and neither did the swarms of tourists the Canal Walk was supposed to attract.

One obstacle to the Canal Walk’s success has been the Reynolds property, which is situated in the middle of the walkway and breaks it into two sections, rerouting visitors back to the street to traverse the entire path.

But Gregory said their development plan includes first floor retail space that will bring shops and restaurants alongside the canal.

“The key thing is revitalizing the canal, which is dead,” Gregory said, “We look forward to working with the city to fulfill their dream of finishing the canal walk project.”

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Sam McDonald
Sam McDonald
12 years ago

you go, man! that is one, big exciting project. I can’t wait to see the master plan start falling in place!!

Brett
Brett
12 years ago

Finally! This is great news!

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
12 years ago

This is the final piece of the puzzle for CanalWalk and absolutely terrific for the City. I wish the developers good luck. They’ve already proven that they can make chicken salad out of difficult properties.

Hampton Carver
Hampton Carver
12 years ago

Don’t let the horses out of the barn just yet. The developers initiative is commendable and I wish them the best, but the site and its development are both immeasurably important to downtown Richmond’s future and deserve much observance and input. Such development must be appropriately integrated into the city’s future skyline, personality and it’s livability. Development of the former warehouse into apartments as phase I (if that’s the plan) will greatly limit the property’s potential and would interfere with a proper consideration of the streetscape, building orientation and pedestrian interaction; and perhaps it is time to let go of… Read more »

Angel
Angel
12 years ago

This is wonderful news to a small business owner who took a leap of faith on making Shockoe Bottom her business home…. was starting to feel like it was a lost cause down here!

JacksonWardResident
JacksonWardResident
12 years ago

I agree with Hampton Carter, especially in regard to the eyesore at the corner of 10th and Byrd- a truly heinous bunker that should be demolished ASAP.

James Cogle
James Cogle
12 years ago

I just hope they put the Richmond skyline on the national stage, as in, actually having a spectacular high-rise building thats architecture will be inspiring to the world and an inspiration for more great architecture to be designed!

Let’s top one on Dubai! lol

mark brady
mark brady
12 years ago

Encouraging to hear such direct language about the state of the Canal Walk. It is a dull or non-existent experience as currently executed and that’s largely due to tentative steps by the city in terms of *encouraging* dynamic public use and actual enjoyable human activity. Let’s hope this go ’round brings more preliminary care to permitting, vending, and a design sensibility that emphasizes rewarding those who visit with a singular *experience* – encompassing physical materials, and vision and ambition. Hampton Carver and James Cogle are right – we have a grand opportunity, and canvas, with our river frontage. It’s time… Read more »