Senior apartments set for $5M upgrades

The William Byrd apartment building, across from the Science Museum, will undergo renovations. Photos by Katie Demeria.

The William Byrd apartment building, across from the Science Museum, will undergo renovations. Photos by Katie Demeria.

A Broad Street apartment tower originally built in 1925 is set to get some 21st-century upgrades.

The nonprofit owners of the William Byrd building at 2501 W. Broad St. are preparing for a $5 million interior renovation of the 11-story property.

Originally built as a hotel, the property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was renovated into low-income senior housing in 1996. It is owned by an entity called William Byrd Hotel Associates, which consists of investors including managing partner Project Homes and the Virginia Community Development Corp.

Project Homes Executive Director Lee Householder said the owners have been working for the past 2½ years to raise equity for the project, securing low-income tax credits, as well as historic tax credits and a grant from the Richmond Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

“There will be a big focus on energy and water conservation, so we should see a significant utility decrease, and we’ll renovate every unit,” Householder said. “You won’t see much difference on the outside. We’re mostly putting in modern features for residents.”

The property was converted into low-income housing about 20 years ago.

The property was converted into low-income housing about 20 years ago.

The owners should close on their financing plan at the end of July and start construction in August. Community Housing Partners is the general contractor on the project, which has an 18-month construction time line.

The Virginia Housing Development Authority and Virginia Community Capital are the lenders on the project. Householder said the owners will generate capital by selling the tax credits at different times during the construction process until they finally close on the financing.

The construction plans call for renovations of the entire building, starting with the top floor and shuffling residents around as work makes its way down.

In addition to renovating each unit, the process will section off a portion of the fourth floor specifically to meet federal standards for residents with disabilities. That work will reduce the total number of units in the building from 107 to 104.

“There is a demand for quality affordable housing in Richmond, and that’s what we’re trying to do – provide that, and make it as quality as possible,” Householder said.

Property manager Kim Adams said the building is usually about 99 or 100 percent occupied, but the owners have recently been keeping the occupancy lower to aid the renovation process for residents. It is currently about 93 percent occupied.

Residents at the William Byrd building are at least 55 years old and must meet low-income requirements. Adams said the maximum income is $31,800 for 60 percent of the units and $26,100 for the others.

All units are one-bedroom, and residents can live individually or in pairs. Adams said sometimes they are spouses, friends, siblings, or parents and children.

The Byrd building is not the only property on that stretch of Broad Street getting an upgrade. A few blocks away, Sauer Properties is planning its massive Sauer Center, which will feature the city’s first Whole Foods. That plan has sparked new owners to snatch up surrounding properties and led to new tenants moving into the neighborhood.

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Michael Dodson
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This is great news for a grand old building and I am sure the residents will be thrilled. Now if they could only convince the owner of the land of the old Julian’s rest/Capitol movie palace next door to sell it let them develop maybe store front retail with a few more senior apartments above them to help restore the block face.

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