BizSense reporters stayed busy in 2013 calculating apartment totals, square footage and purchase prices. Make sure you didn’t miss any news with this roundup of the year in commercial real estate.
Big deals downtown
A new cast of characters took over several staples of the Richmond skyline in 2013, both in ownership and leasing duties.
Clayco in August broke ground on Gateway Plaza, a planned 18-story office tower that will house law firm McGuireWoods, but the firm won’t be holding onto the building for long. The Chicago-based developer has agreed to sell it to Lexington Realty Trust, the same REIT that is financing construction of the $124 million tower.
Another major downtown office building attracted a new owner this year: A Massachusetts-based REIT picked up the MeadWestvaco building on the riverfront for $143.6 million. The deal closed in July and was the most expensive commercial real estate transaction in the City of Richmond in 2013.
New leasing teams took over at downtown’s Riverfront Plaza and SunTrust buildings. CBRE | Richmond in September began handling leasing duties at Riverfront Plaza, a pair of 20-story towers with more than 900,00 square feet of office space. The SunTrust Center and its 458,000 leasable square feet were entrusted to Commonwealth Commercial Partners a month later.
… and more apartments
2012 was a boom year for Richmond apartment development, and the trend hasn’t slowed down.
Downtown buildings that have outlived their use as office real estate underwent the first stages of rebirth as apartments this year, as developers began transformations at 700 Centre and the Central National Bank building.
Manchester stayed hot in 2013 as developers broke ground on more than 500 new units.
A familiar crew drove development in the Southside neighborhood this year: Fountainhead Properties is forging ahead on a 197-unit conversion at the former Miller Manufacturing warehouse; Mark Purcell, Robin Miller and Dan Gecker are behind 129 new construction apartments at 1200 Semmes, and Sam McDonald of Property Results broke ground in the last quarter of the year on Hull Street’s Port RVA project.
In December, Thalhimer Realty Partners bought the 17-acre Reynolds South Plant with plans for at least 250 more apartments as part of a larger mixed-use development. Developers have considered the sprawling Reynolds tract a potential cornerstone for redevelopment in Manchester.
The warehouse-to-apartment conversion play migrated north of the James River this year to the industrial neighborhood of Scott’s Addition.
Developers began work on 400 apartment units worth of conversion projects in the midtown neighborhood, including Louis Salomonsky’s $17 million conversion of two former Justin French properties, Jerry Peters and Jim Edge’s 94-unit Moore Street Apartments, and the massive 178-unit Interbake Cookie Factory conversion Rebkee is working on across Boulevard.
Chesterfield’s Meadowville Technology Park made a run of industrial real estate headlines in 2013.
The park’s 1 million-square-foot Amazon distribution center sold in August to Arizona-based Cole Real Estate Investments for $81 million, construction finished at a $150 million Capital One data center in October and Chicago-based medical supply company Medline in November confirmed plans to build a 400,000-square-foot distribution center at the industrial park.
North of Richmond, Hanover welcomed the Vitamin Shoppe, which in October unveiled a 311,000-square-foot distribution center. Vitamin Shoppe will get new neighbors next year as wine distributor Republic National Distributing Company plans to break ground on a 200,000-square-foot facility in 2014.
Henrico County has its own big-time build-to-suit deal underway at White Oak Technology Park, as Lumber Liquidators is clearing a whole lot of timber for a $42 million, 1 million-square-foot distribution center. Dominion Packaging in June announced plans to move its headquarters to Henrico County with $45 million in renovations and new equipment purchases to follow.
A number of retail centers in the Richmond area rung up real estate sales this year.
Australian investment firm QIC in September picked up a 33 percent share of Short Pump Town Center as a part of a 10-property, $2 billion transaction between QIC and Forest City Enterprises. That agreement left Forest City with a 34 percent stake in the center. QIC and local development company Pruitt Associates each claim 33 percent ownership.
Fresh off of its purchase of White Oak Village in 2012, an affiliate of Cole Real Estate Investments in May acquired the Hancock Village shopping center in Chesterfield for $27.5 million. After making a splash in the Richmond region in the past two years, Cole Real Estate Investments announced it would sell to American Realty Capital Properties in October. That merger is pending.
New York-based Rouse Properties in December bought Chesterfield Towne Center from California-based Macerich. The deal included a second mall in Maryland and had a total price tag of $292.5 million.
A ballpark pitch
Mayor Dwight Jones threw out a ceremonial pitch on a controversial plan to build a stadium-centric mixed-use development in Shockoe Bottom, bulldoze the Diamond and open 60 acres between Boulevard and Hermitage Road for redevelopment.
Jones has a full lineup of developers in the bullpen, and the project has a Venture Richmond and Greater Richmond Chamber-headed PR campaign behind it. The mayor’s announcement also set off a real estate shuffle as developers rush to stake claims near the proposed ballpark.
Baseball in Shockoe Bottom is by no means a done deal, though. The plan has met resistance from opponents who don’t want a new stadium on the footprint of Shockoe Bottom historic sites. City Council has several times continued an ordinance to take control of the Diamond from the Richmond Metropolitan Authority and is next scheduled to hear the paper Jan. 27.