The sounds of construction will soon ring out from two of Justin French’s former properties in Scott’s Addition.
Developer Louis Salomonsky is set to begin work on converting 3031 Norfolk St. and 1700 Summit Ave. into the neighborhood’s latest apartment buildings.
With financing from M&T Bank in place, Salomonsky said construction on the $17 million project is imminent.
“It’ll be going full steam over the next three weeks,” he said.
Salomonsky has plans for a combined 132-apartment historic tax credit conversion. He scooped up the buildings for $2.9 million at foreclosure auction last year.
The two warehouses, totaling about 86,000 square feet, went to auction after Bank of Hampton Roads foreclosed on properties that were left unfinished when French’s Richmond real estate empire collapsed.
French started converting the properties before his arrest in 2010. Bank of Hampton Roads was owed $15 million on loans to the now-imprisoned developer who defrauded investors and the tax credit system.
Salomonsky’s SWA Construction is the revived project’s general contractor, and SWA Architects will handle the design.
While the team is taking over French’s project, they aren’t picking up where he left off. Salomonsky said the buildings will be gutted for a complete overhaul. New plans call for fewer units than French envisioned, as Salomonsky moves to eliminate proposed windowless units at the Summit Avenue site.
Plans filed with the city call for 42 units at 1700 Summit Ave. and 90 apartments at 3031 Norfolk St. The Summit Avenue property will also have 5,000 square feet of retail.
SWA Construction was issued $3.9 million in building permits on the Norfolk Street building at the end of August. Permits for an additional $4 million worth of work at 1700 Summit Ave. are pending, according to city records.
In January, Salomonsky said he hoped to have tenants in the building by this summer. Now the developer is looking to deliver his first units in summer 2014.
“We just had other things that we were working on,” he said. “We just created other priorities in the office.”
The buildings will join a host of other nearby new apartment projects hitting the market over the next year. Spy Rock Real Estate is working on a 193-unit building near West Broad Street and Roseneath Road, and Rebkee has 178 apartments in the works at the former Interbake cookie factory across Boulevard.
Thalhimer Realty Partners in July purchased an industrial building at 3200 Clay St. with plans for a historic tax credit conversion. One of Richmond’s earliest historic tax credit projects, the Baker Atrium Lofts on Summit Avenue, sold in August to a Herndon-based property manager.
Left in French’s wake were several legal disputes over the Scott’s Addition buildings. Bank of Hampton Roads was hit with an $11 million lawsuit from co-lenders Select Bank and Essex Bank, who claimed it failed in its duties as lead lender by allowing the fraud to take place.
The three banks settled their dispute, according to court records.
Bank of Hampton Roads sued contractor David Gammino and architect Todd Dykshorn, claiming they were on board with French’s misdoings. Those cases were eventually dismissed.