Veteran local developers Louis Salomonsky and David White have lofty goals for a sprawling warehouse near the Diamond.
The heads of Richmond-based Historic Housing have submitted plans to turn a 137,000-square-foot Overbrook Road warehouse building into a 173-unit apartment complex dubbed Overbrook Lofts.
David White would not say how much the project will cost. Site plans call for a pool, volleyball and basketball courts, a fitness center and a café over 6 acres at the corner of Overbrook and Hermitage roads.
White said the project was attractive because of its proximity to the Hardywood brewery, the Todd Lofts building, which his firm Main Street Realty also manages, and the ballpark site down the road.
The future of the area surrounding the Diamond has plenty of upside. Mayor Dwight Jones has a plan to tear down the Diamond and redevelop that section of Boulevard in favor a new stadium in Shockoe Bottom.
“I think the Boulevard is going to become a major retail center for the region,” White said. “We were thinking that that was a significant possibility at the time we bought the property and that just added to the value of it.”
Salomonsky bought the 1650 Overbrook Road property at auction in November 2012. He submitted the winning bid of $1.85 million at the sale, earning him the keys to the 104-year-old Export Leaf Tobacco Company warehouse. Charles Keck of Keck Realty was the property’s previous owner.
In January, Richmond’s land use administration received a special-use permit application in which Salomonsky describes the units as “modern, larger apartments that will appeal to young professionals.” They’ll be mostly one-bedroom units with some two-bedrooms. Designs call for townhouse-like apartments with first-floor living and kitchen spaces and lofted bedrooms.
The building itself is a long, narrow structure stretching for more than three football fields eastward from Hermitage. The shape lent itself well to a renovation of that type, White said.
“We’re opening up courtyards at the entrance really to each one of the apartment units,” he said. “Another thing that that site does is, being as long as it is, you have a lot of parking available, cheap convenient parking that is immediately by the front door of each apartment.”
Plans also call for redeveloping a small commercial building at the corner of Hermitage and Overbook. Historic Housing doesn’t have an immediate plan in mind for the space, but White said a restaurant would be a good fit for his property and a potential Boulevard retail development.
White hopes to begin work in about three months and said the project should take about a year to complete. City planners are currently reviewing the application. The city has not offered an official recommendation and a date for a public hearing has yet to be set.
Salomonsky and White’s SWA Architects designed the Overbrook project and their SWA Construction will be the general contractor.
M&T Bank is financing the construction. And thanks to some work ahead of time, Historic Housing will have the chance to pursue historic tax credits on the Overbrook project to recoup some of the costs.
Just months after acquiring the property, Salomonsky sponsored a petition to add the 47 acres surrounding the warehouse to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources Virginia Landmarks Register.
The so-called Hermitage Road Warehouse District, bounded by Hermitage and Overbrook roads, Sherwood Avenue and Interstate 95, was added to state register March 20, qualifying the area for state historic tax credits.
Mary Harding Salder of Sadler & Whitehead Architects prepared the DHR nomination form, which was forwarded to the National Park Service after DHR approved it in March. She expects the location will be added to the National Register of Historic Places in May.
At that point, the property would also qualify for the federal historic tax credit, making any property on its 47 acres fair game to developers hoping to capitalize on the program’s rehabilitation incentives.
DHR spokesman Randy Jones said about 98 percent of the applications DHR sends to the National Park Service are accepted onto the National Register.
The Overbrook Lofts will become Historic Housing’s second major midtown apartment project under construction. It joins a two-building, 132-unit historic rehab under construction at Norfolk Street and Summit Avenue in Scott’s Addition. Salomonsky bought those properties, formerly owned by Justin French, at a separate foreclosure auction in June 2012.
Occupancy rates in the area have been strong, said Steve Leibovic, who developed the Southern Stove Lofts just south of the planned Overbrook Lofts. He said the midtown area has drawn young professionals and families alike.
“We appeal in that neighborhood to a wide variety of people who want to live downtown,” he said. “What they get is the convenience of downtown along with some more suburban amenities.”