The first stages of construction on a long dormant downtown skyscraper are taking shape.
More than $500,000 worth of building permits were issued in late October for work on the Central National Bank building at 219 E. Broad St.
The permits, which authorize interior demolition and renovation, scaffolding, and barricades, are the first major public signs of progress toward the planned rebirth of the 23-story, 240,000-square-foot tower.
Washington-based Douglas Development Corp. plans to transform the former bank building into more than 200 apartments. Cindy Morris, asset manager for the developer, confirmed that Douglas plans to begin construction in the coming months. W.M. Jordan has been awarded the contract for this initial phase of the development approved in the permits.
“We’re in the beginning,” Morris said. “It’s very preliminary.”
Douglas Development principal Norman Jemal estimated in January that the historic rehab project would cost about $20 million. The company bought the building in 2005 from its previous owners, which included local businessman Jim Ukrop, for $5.3 million. The tower has sat empty for almost a decade.
In addition to adding hundreds of apartments downtown, the finished product will feature a section of first-floor commercial space. Douglas Development has had discussions with potential tenants for the ground floor space, Morris said, but has not signed any leases. The company plans to have the apartments ready in 2015, she said.
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In recent years, the firm has scooped up large chunks of real estate around the Central National Bank building. Douglas now owns about 225,000 square feet of real estate within four blocks of the tower.
The firm also previously owned the Interbake cookie factory on Boulevard. Douglas Development sold that building to Rebkee in 2011 for $6.3 million, about $400,000 less than Douglas paid for the property in 2007. Rebkee is converting the building into 178 apartments.
The Central National Bank building is one of the largest and most recognizable buildings in downtown Richmond still available for redevelopment. The First National Bank building on Main Street and the former Hotel John Marshall on Fifth Street both underwent seven-figure transformations in 2011 and 2012.