Helping students enter the next phase

A 64,000-square-foot residence is planned for the lot at left. (Photo by Lena Price)

A 64,000-square-foot residence is planned for the lot at left. (Photo by Lena Price)

A Richmond nonprofit is approaching its goal to break ground on a $15 million housing complex that will cater to adults with developmental disabilities.

The Faison School for Autism, which serves about 120 students between the ages of 2 and 22, will build a 64,000-square-foot residence on the corner of West Broad Street and Byrd Avenue. The site previously housed the Executive Motor Hotel, and it’s located behind the Faison School’s campus at 1701 Byrd Ave.

A rendering of the planned building. (Courtesy of the Faison School)

A rendering of the planned apartment building. (Courtesy of the Faison School)

The school hopes to begin construction this summer, said Wendy Kreuter, the Faison School’s vice president for operations and finance. She said providing a home for adults who have outgrown the Faison School was the natural next step in the institution’s mission.

“We’ve found that parents start to get very concerned when their children hit their teenage years,” Krueter said. “They wonder ‘Where will they live? What will they do during the day?’ We tackled that.”

Krueter said the school would finance the project through a combination of philanthropy and loan money.

About four years ago, the school launched an $8.5 million capital campaign to help finance the complex, Krueter said. She said they held back for a year during the recession, but now they’re about $1.5 million away from hitting the goal.

About 55 individuals and foundations have contributed to the capital campaign, Kreuter said. She declined to name any donors.

Kreuter said the school is working with the Virginia Housing Development Authority to finance the rest of the project.

The complex will have 45 apartments, and about a third of them will be for people with developmental disabilities. The rest will be rented on the open market, Kreuter said.

“We want to provide families with a sense of comfort,” Kreuter said. “We want them to think, ‘I’m in a place where they can really take care of us for as long as we possibly need.’”

In addition to the apartments, the complex will include about 9,400 square feet of commercial space facing Broad Street. The organization hasn’t finalized a tenant, Kreuter said.

“The retail component offers some opportunities for services that will work hand-in-hand with the residence,” Kreuter said. “It could be anything from medical services to retail where people could work. It’s a wide open field of possibilities.”

Revenue from the commercial space will go back into the Faison School, Kreuter said.

Whiting-Turner will handle the construction on the project, and Baskervill is the architect. The school is shooting for a summer 2014 completion, Kreuter said.

The Faison School was founded in 1998 with funding from Markel Corp. chairman Alan Kirshner and Flo Guzman.

Its current chairman is Don Faison, a vice president at Markel.

Peter deGroot, a broker with BB&T Capital Markets, is the organization’s board president.

The organization reported $6.5 million in revenue and $5.9 million in expenses for 2011, according to the most recent tax data available.

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Belinda CurrinWythe Recent comment authors
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That is so great! I love to see development with a purpose!

Belinda Currin
Belinda Currin

This will be a great opportunity for the residents and the business community to work with them. The families are the big winners here, knowing their family member will be in a positive and growth centered place- keep up the good work.