Investor gives building a future, finds treasure from the past

A half-finished apartment project left in the wake of the Justin French fiasco has been bought by an investor who plans to finish the project this summer.

Sam Salhab
purchased the building at 2049 W. Broad St. from Paragon Bank in January for $660,000.

“I was a little hesitant at first, knowing the situation, but I ran the numbers and it made sense,” Salhab said.

Salhab owns a medical supply business that sells surgical knee implants. He also owns a handful of apartments across Richmond. Realtor Carter Snipes, who manages his other properties, presented Salhab the proposal to buy and finish 2049 W. Broad St.

“It was already zoned and approved, but we had to tweak some of the plans,” Salhab said.

Building permits are pending with Monument Construction as general contractor. Salhab said the construction budget for the renovation is about $900,000.

The finished project will consist of eight units of one-, two- and four-bedrooms catering to young professionals. The first floor will have a commercial space as well. The project will also take advantage of historic tax credits. It was recently added to the historic district, making it eligible for the program.

When Justin French was working on the property last year, it was one of the few that wasn’t part of his admitted tax credit fraud. (You can read about that whole thing here.) But it was still caught up in the controversy.

Plumbing and HVAC contracting company Green Air Inc. sued French and general contractor Cityspace Construction last summer for failing to pay bills. Green Air, and other subcontractors also filed mechanic’s liens, which were wiped out during the foreclosure.

Salhab said that he wanted many of the old contractors back on the project and that most of them have been invited to bid on the project.

Salhab said that certain parts of the project were half-finished or left in disarray, making the endeavor trickier.

“It is always easier to start from scratch,” he said. “There are so many unknowns when you go into a building like that.”

One unknown turned out to be a fun surprise. A time capsule from 1911 was buried in the northwest corner of the basement.

“I think we’ll have a special ceremony when we open it up,” Salhab said.

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9 Comments on "Investor gives building a future, finds treasure from the past"

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Ron Thomas
So, does Mr.Salhab plan to pay the contractors for the work that they effectively “donated” to his project and were never paid for? Or does he just think the brickwork, drywall, windows, labor, mechanical equipment and plumbing fixtures were free, or someone else’s problem? Inviting a contractor to “bid” to complete work that they started and are already deep in the hole for, is simply insulting in my book. If the tax credits are an “added bonus” why not do the right thing and try to re-pay some of these hard working individuals who made the project an attractive investment… Read more »
Carlos Chafin
One glaring omission from this article is any history account of this building. Originally one of Richmond’s first synagogues, the building went on to become Alpha Audio, Richmond’s premiere recording studio in the early 70’s. People who recorded there included Bruce Springsteen, Pat Benatar, Parliment/Funkadelics, Seals and Croft, Joan Osborne, GWAR and many many other stars. One of the studio’s most beloved recordings was “Sweet Virginia Breeze” by Robbin Thompson and Steve Bassett. I’m sure your readers would have found all of this information much more interesting than coverage of historic tax credits. Too bad your writer missed the most… Read more »

If the contractors you mentioned filed and perfected a mechanic’s lien on the property, then they should get paid. Remember, the contractor had an agreement with French, not the new buyer. Foreclosure wipes the judgements off the books, but not any perfected mechanic’s liens.


Is it angry Wednesday? Geez.

I don’t see how the numbers work after he sinks 1.56 million into an 8 unit building, maybe it’s an inflation hideout though, who knows.

Ron Thomas
jd- unfortunately, in the case of Commercial Renovations- mechanic’s liens are cleared when the foreclosure occurs. It’s sad but true. These liens were cleared by the court last year- leaving the contractors holding hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. Many of the affected contractors are still paying off- to this day- the equipment and materials in that building- that they were never paid for installing! The original contracts may have been with French, but that doesn’t mean that the “new owners” shouldn’t feel any responsibility…after all they are using, and planning to profit from, the renovations and materials that… Read more »
Your logic completely escapes me. Why would it be the right thing for a new buyer to do? Those materials and partial work are part of the purchase price in an open market transaction. If anyone had any moral obligation to pay, it would be the seller (the bank in this case) paying those old debts out of the proceeds — or at least some percentage of them so that all parties share an equal percentage loss. If they all had lien positions it seems the bank would have to share in the spoils. I always thought mechanics’ liens trumped… Read more »
Mr powers
If these liens were not wiped clean we would have millions of properties in this country tied up with title issues. We already have thousands of properties with title issues in VA from owners dying without a will (mostly raw land). These fools on here that think this new buyer has anything to do with the previous unpaid bills are probably state or city workers or in some union. I have a list of about 50 properties that I can’t buy because the title companies can’t find all the heirs and my list gets bigger every year. I have to… Read more »

GreenAir sued the General Contractor – Cityspace Construction/Urban Grid Solar and won their case in court last week.

My last comment wasn’t posted, so i will try again. The owner of Cityspace has been all to happy to be quoted for this publication when it suits him. Why has he not been talked to about when he expects to pay his bills? He owes a lot of people, a lot of money. Where is the article on that and his ties to French? Where is the article on the lawsuit he lost? The fact that he seems to have lots of businesses but wont pay anyone on time or what he owes? Talk to the people he owes… Read more »