Developer has big plans for Petersburg

A rendering of the Perry Building at 110-220 S. Perry St. in Petersburg. (Walter Parks)

Almost 300,000 square feet of downtown Petersburg might soon be getting a makeover.

Richmond-based developer Tom Wilkinson is finalizing plans to rehab two conjoined buildings into 115 apartments and 163,000 square feet of Class A office space.

The two buildings at 110-220 S. Perry St., blocks from Virginia State University’s Petersburg campus, total 270,000 square feet.

110 S. Perry St., Petersburg

110 S. Perry St. (Photo by David Larter)

Wilkinson, who runs Franklin Street Development, estimates the development will cost about $40 million, and he is still in talks with lenders. He will seek historic tax credits on the project, for which Walter Parks is the architect.

The new apartments and office will cap Wilkinson’s seven-building, $100 million adaptive reuse project of the old Brown & Williamson cigarette factory complex, which is the largest such project in Petersburg.

Wilkinson said that even if the offices of the new development are slow to fill up, rent from the apartments should be enough to service the debt on the office build-out.

“There is a lot of demand for Class A office space right now,” he said. “There are a lot of government contractors who do work at Fort Lee, and they need office space. We are about three miles from the base, so it’s convenient.”

He also recently leased 20,000 square feet to Virginia State University in the building across the street.

The new development is in the same complex as Wilkinson’s 149-unit Perry Street Lofts, which launched last year after a long build-out hampered by a major fire that burned much of the third floor. That fire pushed the planned $20 million project to $25 million.

Wilkinson said he was optimistic about the Petersburg market because demand for the apartments has been higher than he anticipated.

He has similar plans for the Reynolds South plant site in Manchester but has had issues lining up the financing. BizSense reported in November that Wilkinson had lost the contract on the 17-acre plot but was working to get it back under contract.

The Reynolds South site, which sits along Seventh and Hull streets, is on the market with CBRE. The asking price for the parcel is reportedly between $9 million and $10 million.

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Bruce Milam

Tom Wilkinson is the ultimate “pioneer” and I admire his courage. His Brown and Wilkinson project is extremely important for the revitalization of Petersburg. Everyone is pulling for him and his partners on this one.