A seedling of a plan at Libbie and Grove

 

The corner of Libbie and Grove avenues could be in for a big transformation.

Developer Scott Boyers is planning a four-story, 22-unit apartment building where a BP station now stands.

The development is in its infancy. Boyers has not filed the special-use permit application that will be required for the project, which can be a lengthy process, but he did submit initial plans for the building with the city last week.

Boyers, a broker with CBRE, would not comment on his project for this story, saying it was too early to talk about it. The owners of the land, Woodfin Heating Inc., could not be reached for comment by press time.

But according to plans prepared by the architecture firm Archetype Designs, LLC, the building would be about 109,000 square feet and include about 10,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor.

The apartments in the plans include two one-bedroom units, six two-bedroom units and 14 three-bedroom units.

The plans also call for 78 parking spots, and that’s a big deal to local business owners, who say that parking is a challenge in the area.

Kyle Measell, owner of Phil’s Continental Lounge, said he would be excited to see the new development.

“Of course I’d be sad to see the BP go away. I’ve known those guys for 10 years. But it would be good to get more people in the area who can come in and eat at my restaurant,” Measell said. “But I think I’m most excited about the parking. It’s brutal around here.”

Laurie Blakey, owner of Pearl’s Cupcakes on Grove Avenue, agreed that the extra residents would be good for business.

“My understanding is that it has self-contained parking,” she said of the potential development. “As long as it has parking, it seems like a positive thing.”

But support for the project isn’t universal. The Libbie & Grove Merchants Association opposes the development.

Patrick Heaney, co-owner of Mango Salon, situated directly behind the planned development, said the association opposed the project because it doesn’t meet the current building standards for the area.

“The Libbie & Grove Merchant’s Association has unanimously voted to withhold our support for any project that doesn’t meet the current zoning ordinances in the area,” said Heaney, who is vice president of the association. “It does not meet the current zoning ordinances, therefore we oppose it.”

Heaney said he has spent many hours working with the city to update the master plan for the Libbie/Grove/Patterson avenues retail section of the city, and that special-use permits put a wrench in the standards for the area.

“It’s not that I have anything against this project specifically,” he said. “I think we should have an open, public discussion on the future of the area, and it should not driven by any single special-use permit. If the zoning ordinance is going to be changed, it shouldn’t be for any one project.”

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52 Comments on "A seedling of a plan at Libbie and Grove"

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Tom Wilkinson
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I think Scott Boyers is a consummate real estate professional, and I think his development will be outstanding.

Meg
Guest

That corner of Libbie and Grove is too valuable for a gas station. I think the apartment building (as long as it has parking) would be a great addition to the neighborhood and an asset to local businesses. One more step towards creating communities in the city where you can live and walk to eating, shopping, and even working.

Andrew Moore
Guest

Although the information on the specific project plan is sketchy (and the devil is in the details), introducing a high-quality, mixed-use, medium density project on that corner would be great for The Avenues.

Bruce Ogden
Guest
This would be absolutely horrible for the neighborhood. It’s the shops at Libbie and Grove, not the four story apartment buildings at Libbie and Grove. The proposed density is too high and as apartments would appeal more to a transient population. The alley between Libbie and Granite Avenues currently has quite a bit of through traffic going to Carreras and Mangos. My understanding is that plans have been submitted showing entrances on Libbie Ave and the alley between Libbie Ave and Granite Ave, with no entrance onto Grove. A building with owner-occupied condominiums makes more sense, but a four story… Read more »
Joe S.
Guest

I have a feeling that even though they might be apartments, the rent will be priced as such that it won’t hurt the desirability of that area. I’m all for it. That gas station is a rip-off and an eyesore.

Karen
Guest

well said

Lisa
Guest

I don’t see apartment communities as places for “transients.” I’m certain they’ll be designed with the area’s demographic in mind. There will just be more well-off people who want an “in-the-city” experience. The area needs diversity anyway. The main problem that i see with Richmond is its stoic refusal to accept any kind of change, ever. If there is no change, there is only stagnation.

Darlene Ogden
Guest

Wake up people!!! This is sad news for the Libbie & Grove corridor. The alley can not support that kind of traffic. I appreciate the position of the Libbie & Grove Merchants Association and will be hard pressed to spend my dollars in the shops that oppose.

bobby whitten
Guest

great idea! i hope it finds a way to completion. many folks would complain about a free $100 bill if it were folded in the wrong direction!

Rich
Guest

Let’s wait and see what it looks like and the details, access, parking, etc. But as an idea, I like it. Block corners are really important, and having a gas station there is far below the highest and best use. I also think that there ought to be one of those smaller scale parking decks (like in Carytown) behind the Westhamption Theater.

Jill
Guest

Outstanding news for that area! I wish the developer much success with these plans!

Drew R.
Guest

I do like the overall concept. However, I feel that four stories is simply too high for that area. If they kept it to a more reasonable three story height, I believe that would appease a fair amount of the initial resistance. It would also keep it in better scale with the surrounding buildings. Not so sure about the parapet roof either.

Sean
Guest
While I have never been a fan of the gas station sitting on that premier corner, I am also not a fan of a four story building there either as it is incongruous with the building stock extant. There are no four story buildings in the area and a permit for one will start a sweeping redevelopment that will not end until every building has been torn down to make way for these “work/live” spaces. One can see this in Arlington VA where the historic fabric has been removed by such buildings. It looks like another semi-prefab structure much like… Read more »
Danny DeBoer
Guest

I like it. Looks like a place I could easily live as we consider downsizing. Condos may be an interesting thought, as well.

Danny

Ken
Guest
As a local business owner, and local Libbie/Grove resident, I would truly like to see expansion of retail space in the Libbie/Grove, Libbie/Patterson area. Richmond lacks a central area of attraction for up-scale commercial space with class and character, and the area certainly has the makings of such a place. However, I think that the proposal as it stands just simply does not suit the area. No building on the Libbie/Grove corner is taller than 2 stories, and traffic in the area is already an issue. The addition of a 4 story building of this design would stick out like… Read more »
Bruce Hobart
Guest

Good luck! This should be very successful.

Alix
Guest
This sounds great. I keep seeing developments in Shockoe Bottom and off Broad, two places have no interest in living. I would love to live in a development off of Libbie and Grove. It is an idea community–walk or bike to everything you want and need. I am frankly quite shocked and disappointed by the tone of the merchants association. Building “up” is smart for that spot. I don’t think everyone is going to rush to start erecting 4 story buildings. But this is how you manage density. The sun will still shine through. I live in this neighborhood and… Read more »
Catie
Guest

Just to be clear, it is my understanding that the Merchant’s Association only opposes this or any project that does not meet the current zoning requirements. They did this so they can reserve the right to make case by case decisions on different projects. This means that if someone actually files the appropriate permits (even special use) that the Merchant’s Assocation may choose to support or not support the project after looking at firm facts.

larry horton
Guest

good luck

Shelby
Guest
While I understand that no one likes to look at a gas station, they have become few and far between here in the city. That in itself can make prices much higher in the city than in the counties. I already try an plan my gas trips for when I am in Henrico. Making less of them won’t make the price lower. They aren’t pretty, but they are useful. And, while I appreciate the retailers wanting their captive audience, I believe the large scale building would make the block a little claustrophobic and the appeal, besides the wonderful retailers, of… Read more »
Katherine
Guest

Hopefully, the movie theater, local grocery and other favorite local businesses aren’t torn down to build similar structures with apartments hovering over businesses like Quiznos, Chipotle and bank branches that will probably out-bid local small business owners for the leasing space. I am more nervous than excited.

Catie
Guest

I am always a fan of things that will benefit the Libbie Grove Shopping District! I support development if it fits and will coexist with our current neighborhood. I am going to reserve my thoughts on this project for when we see the permits filed and firm details.

Zach
Guest
Sid
Guest

Interesting. I only see one.

Rick
Guest
This project may very well be a welcome addition to the neighborhood. I am concerned that the drawings that are shown indicate a project that is much larger than the gas station site would accommodate. It appears that the entire block will be demolished and replaced with a structure that will run from Libbie to Granite. I am not sure that readers understand this. A structure like this will in fact change the character of the entire neighborhood….think about the impact that the larger but similar visual disruption that the Tuckahoe apartment building has on that corner at the end… Read more »
Dave Phillips
Guest
There are always victims to new development. Who is going to pay the person that owns the gas station? If Woodfin owns the land, they must be leasing it to the business owner. That small business owner will lose his business if this goes through. Seems like he has been there a long time providing needed products and services to the community. If the neighborhood did not need gas, convenience items, and auto repair, how could the business have survived for so long? If the business owners in the area let one of their own get sacrificed for this, they… Read more »
Catherine
Guest

As a long time resident in the neighborhood, I and many neighbors oppose this project because of its inappropriate scale and the negative effect of increased traffic in the area. There is not another four story building anywhere near and the mass would completely change the character of this unique neighborhood. There are many options for retail, business, restaurant, etc that would be in keeping with the existing ambiance that has existed for over 100 years around The Avenues.

This proposed high rise apartment building would turn The Avenues into another Short Pump. What a travesty!

Doug
Guest
I have lived in this neighborhood all my life. When Scott Boyers presented the plans to a group of us, my initial reaction was: “Wow. What a neat idea. This would be a great place to live; right next to all the wonderful things the Grove-Libbie area has to offer. “ But then after a few minutes of ruminating (as well as seeing the different drawings of the proposed structure), the impact of building’s sheer enormity on this corner really hit home. I suggest going to the corner of Libbie and Grove, stand caddy-corner to the existing BP station looking… Read more »
Linda
Guest

Obviously the concept is very exciting but the devil is always in the details. There is already a “No left turn” sign on Libbie to restrict traffic into the BP property – think what an additional 74-76 parking spaces, only accessable from Libbie, will do to traffic at the corner of Libbie and Grove. Think about all the traffic that will be generated that can only exit into the alley off Grove and Matoaka, and between Libbie and Maple. Interesting, but I need to see all the details and studies before I will support this proposal.

jd
Guest

Only if Richmondbizsense could go back in time and report on neighbors reactions to the Tuckahoe being built. Couldn’t imagine the neighborhood’s reaction when a 10+ story building was going up in their neighborhood (insert sarcasm).

Susan
Guest

The suggestion to stand back and try to visualize a four story building on the corner is well taken .
The proposed building’s height is totally inappropriate for that corner and would dwarf the surrounding buildings

When hearings were held on the revision to the master plan, there was general agreement that mixed use properties were appropriate from Grove to Patterson on Libbie provided the character of the neighborhood was retained

A building of this scale on this corner is the first step in the destruction of the neighborhood.

Cary Lindsey
Guest
I would like all the “first name only” people above, that are supportive of this monster project, to acknowledge if they live within 2 blocks of it, or even 3 blocks. I think not!! The parking referred to is under the building. The access is off Libbie, and the Alley. So now there will be 78 parking places feeding cars into the one lane alley. Yes, that sounds like a great idea. Or they can feed into already congested Libbie two car lengths south of Grove, and wait for the light to change, and hope someone lets them out into… Read more »
Darlene Ogden
Guest

Well said Cary!

Susan
Guest

Thanks, Cary!

B etsy Gardner
Guest

Perfectly said. I called Bruce Tyler to ask about this a few weeks ago and he was rather reticent on the details. Just adding Sweet Frog to Libbie has created an afternoon traffic mess. I can’t imagine what this could bring. Please don’t forget the dozens of kids that walk through that intersection going to and from 3 different schools. Just tell them not to “Short Pump” our neighborhood.

Miranda Shaw
Guest
The traffic situation is one of my main concerns as well. I live just off Libble half way between Grove and Patterson, and there are several times of day already – lunchtime, afternoon rush hour, perhaps morning rush hour as well (I’m not usually driving at that time) – when traffic is at a STANDSTILL going south on Libbie toward the corner of Libbie & Grove for the length of what would be several blocks if there were side streets. The same holds true at Libbie and Cary. If one’s destination is points west on Cary, we all know the… Read more »
Larry
Guest
My wife and I recently relocated back to Richmond last fall. We are residents of the neighborhood/libbie avenue and we love the mix of local shops, restaurants and a movie theater. With two small children — the attraction of a dinner and movie date night within 3 blocks of our house is awesome. However, the current volume of traffic and congestion on Libbie Avenue is alarming. The proposed development may provide parking but lacks forward logistical thinking of simple “congestion” this idea will add to what is otherwise a small historical neighborhood and shopping district. Further the concept of another… Read more »
Andrew Siff
Guest

My own informal 25 year study of the traffic in the area agrees with Mr. Lindsey.

Norman Hedrick Jr
Guest

I don’t oppose reasonable development. However, the buildings in the area are 1-2 stories tall. A 4-story building is way too tall for this area and will overwhelm our neighborhood. Congestion has been getting worse in recent years and there is no way a project this size will help!

G g
Guest
Project is not just for the corner but for the entire block. Tenants in remaining buildings of block have been given a 1 year lease which has never happened. If project gets approved, a new zoning designation will be required. This will then be applied to the entire area and thus the entire block will likely convert to 4 story mixed use. Also, let’s not forget about the condos going in further down libbie at the corner of Guthrie. Also, the same request is going in for patterson and libbie intersection along with surrounding blocks. As such assume the entire… Read more »
RobinsonSt
Guest

The development is only for the approx. 0.5 acres the BP station sits on. You are incorrect to say the entire block and the alley would be developed.

Ethel Powell
Guest
My husband and I have lived here for 44 years. Please, DO NOT PUT IN A 4-STORY BUILDING!!!!! There are no buildings, residential or otherwise, of more than 2 stories in this area. A 4-story building would transform the neighborhood into a commercial community, which is exactly what we are NOT. Yes, there are merchants here, but the shops are small and unique, which is why it is such a desirable neighborhood and the reason it has such a distinct personal feel. That is what makes it “home” to us. The increase in traffic would be exponential, too. Drive down… Read more »
Karen Lindsey
Guest
I would like to see a completed and current traffice study on the intersection of Libbie and Grove. As a resident of this neighborhood we already have traffic issues. The intersection of Grove and Granite is a nightmare from 4 til 6:30 every weekday night with lanes blocked on Granite Avenue to parked cars that are supporting local business. I have witnessed many traffic accidents at this interesection. Speed is a concern on Granite and we have tried to get speed bumps with no success. Many people (too many) use the alley that feeds to businesses around the BP station… Read more »
RobinsonSt
Guest
Ethel, how much ambiance does the BP service station provide right now? I would say it’s well into negative territory. As for those talking about traffic already being bad, we’re talking about an urban retail corridor, not a rural farming community. The joy of living On The Avenues comes with the disadvantage of people from outside of the adjacent neighborhood enjoying your nearby shops and restaurants. Therefore, parking and visitors are part of what you get along with the ability to walk to most everything. I keep reading how every building nearby is 1-2 stories high, which simply isn’t true.… Read more »
jenny larus
Guest

RE The Tuckahoe – it was built in 1929, and was not in the middle of a developed neighborhood – most houses in the area did not exist then. This area simply cannot support so many more people living here in such a small area.

Brett
Guest
I understand the concern but no as it relates to height. There are numerous buildings in this area that are more than two stories. Too many people spout off opinions without basing them on facts. Let’s not turn this into Fox News people! The schools (St. Bridgets, St. Stephens and St Catherines), office buildings (both on Libbie and Maple), and churches (St Stephens, St Giles) nearby are more than two stories. Even some people’s houses are more than two stories. A quick look at the satellite images proves that. I do agree that the development would cause traffic problems but… Read more »
Peter W. W. Powell
Guest
I don’t recognize some of the first names and initials or first name only as being in the neighborhood. While they are certainly entitled to their opinion, I don’t think that this is any of their business unless they work for or with the developer. There is a no left turn sign just off Grove on Libbie as you are going South. It is directed at people turning into the service station or hair dresser. Park at the bank and watch how many people violate this sign. A police officer could make a very good living and wouldn’t even need… Read more »
Charles
Guest

Great idea. And while I don’t live in the neighborhood, I live in the city, and as such have an obvious right to an opinion.

From the perspective of a city liver, the complaints about traffic etc. are just laughable. This project would clearly add a lot to the neighborhood, and help the city as a whole.

4 stories is just not that big in reality people. There are plenty of 3 story houses in the area.

Ethel Powell
Guest

To RobinsonSt. –
Yes, there is a very nice ambience to the BP Station. It appears that you haven’t been there. Rarely have I stopped for gas or a car repair without seeing someone I know. And our neighborhood mechanic is the best on the planet, knows everyone by name who comes in, and we all leave smiling.

Cary Lindsey
Guest
Robinson St. The buildings you refer to are Schools, Churches, and a Theatre. All require a bit more “head room” they also have set backs from the side walk, In the case of the school 120′ set back,and church 60′ set back. both have two story windows, with the school having windows in the Roof line giving it a two story appearance. I w You say enhance the dining…We have 5 restaurants, plus one each, Ice Cream, CupCake, Coffee shop.That is within two blocks. amd 6 more restaurants/sandwich shops within walking distance. I would say that is a lot of… Read more »
RobinsonSt
Guest
Cary, the only 3-story building I mention is Westhampton Theatre, which is directly across the street, and it’s has no setback. As I stated, I figure the developer is starting at 4 stories in his proposal to have leverage down the road. If the 4th floor was setback some, then the building would appear about as big as Westhampton. You’re confusing me with another reply when you say I mentioned churches, schools, etc–wasn’t me! Ultimately, the BP station represents an underutilized piece of property. As a city resident, I would like to see a greater use of the property to… Read more »
Cary Lindsey
Guest
Robinson St. I did confuse you with another mentioning the taller structures. But, the theatre has to have a taller structure to house a screen, The theatre does have a set back, as do every other store front, bank, etc on these two blocks. The set back at the theatre is about 10′ off the side walk. The height of the structure proposed is only part of the problem. The traffic is a major issue here. This intersection is a bottle neck, and there is no cure. Increasing the density at this intersection, for ingress and egress from the proposed… Read more »
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