Riverfront office in the mix for Rocketts Landing

rocketts Landing

Apartments and townhomes are rising at Rocketts Landing uphill from a pair of riverside sites being marketed for offices. (Kieran McQuilkin)

With nearly 200 more homes nearing completion and further development in the works, a new phase at Rocketts Landing will offer a first for the project: office space along the James River.

WVS Cos. is planning a 21,000-square-foot riverfront building that is being marketed for office use, just downhill from where construction is progressing on a 156-unit apartment building and 28 new townhomes on the southern end of the mixed-use development.

An additional commercial space with upwards of 6,800 square feet on the new apartment building’s river-facing side is slated for office or retail, and an existing structure along the river – the shell of a 19th-century industrial building – is envisioned for redevelopment as office space as well, downhill from the site of another planned apartment building.

Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer is marketing the sites for WVS, the developer behind the 50-acre project between the river and Route 5 on the Richmond-Henrico line. WVS engaged the real estate firm to determine best uses for the spaces that were initially envisioned to house retail.

While retail remains an option, Thalhimer brokers Jeff Cooke and associate Amy Broderick said the square-footage of the spaces, and their locations along the riverfront, make them more suitable for use as offices.

“Retail space struggles in the middle of downtown,” Cooke said. “We think this will make a unique office space for somebody.”

“It’s unusual that it’s riverfront property,” Broderick added.

The shell of a former industrial building is offered for redevelopment as an office or restaurant. (Jonathan Spiers)

The two buildings are being offered for sale or lease, while the space in the apartment building is for lease only. Cooke and Broderick said each space is suitable for one tenant but could be divided for two or subleased by a buyer. The new buildings would be constructed once buyers are secured.

While office space is already available in the development – law firms BrownGreer and Rawls Law Group are based there – Cooke said the sites present a rare opportunity for a buyer to own a part of Rocketts Landing.

“The owners of Rocketts are not interested in renting the buildings themselves, so they’re open to selling it. We’re offering it primarily for sale,” Cooke said.

The new-construction building, planned for 21,000 square feet across two stories, is listed for sale at $1.3 million. The other structure – an old steel manufacturing building that, once redeveloped, could total up to 16,000 square feet across two stories – has an asking price of $850,000.

The apartment building space, with a 20-foot-high ceiling and second-floor mezzanine option, ranges from 6,800 to 10,000 square feet and is listed for lease at $21.50 per square foot, equating to a rental rate of between $146,200 and $215,000.

Cooke and Broderick also continue to market the site of the former James River Steam Brewery – commonly known as Richmond’s beer caves – for use as a restaurant. The 7,000-square-foot underground space, which fronts the river and the Virginia Capital Trail, was originally used to store lager from the brewery that operated from 1866 to 1879 and was affiliated with a predecessor of beer giant Yuengling.

A past proposal for a restaurant in the caves never materialized, but Cooke and Broderick said the space remains an opportunity for adaptive reuse. They said the existing shell structure could also be attractive for a restaurant use.

Cooke said the sites have attracted interest from prospective buyers.

“We’ve had a lot of people looking, but nobody ready to commit,” he said.

The sites are part of a second phase of development for Rocketts Landing that has ramped up this year with the apartments and townhomes construction. The surge in activity is the result of an agreement reached last year with the City of Richmond to extend water and sewer utilities to the Henrico portion of the project.

The ground-floor space on the river-facing side of the apartment building is offered for office lease. (Jonathan Spiers)

KBS is the general contractor on the apartments, which are scheduled to be completed next spring. HHHunt Homes is the builder on the townhomes, which include a row of 13 24-foot-wide units that include options for an elevator and a penthouse owner’s suite. Another row of 15 townhomes facing the river are wrapping up, built based on presales starting at $370,000.

HHHunt has built 22 other townhomes at Rocketts Landing and is under contract to build 50 more. It started building an initial wave of townhomes in 2014 and received approval last year to construct 47 units.

A dozen more homes and a surface parking lot are planned for a 1.3-acre parcel that currently houses a blue warehouse along Old Osborne Turnpike. WVS purchased that property in March for $1.85 million.

Downhill from that, a second apartments building is planned, and development will continue moving south with an extension of the marina and a block of condos to be built by Stanley Martin Homes. That section, called Riverwalk at Rocketts Landing, is planned for units ranging from 1,500 to 2,500 square feet in size.

WVS’s Richard Souter has said this latest phase of development will bring Rocketts Landing about halfway to completion. Started in the mid-2000s, the development is the local crown jewel for WVS, which is also starting the next phase of its Locks development with a 12-story tower planned along the canal.

That project is a collaboration with local developer Tom Papa, who is also working with WVS on a 105-unit apartment building in the Fan that will replace a church parking lot.

Activity is bustling around Rocketts as well, as traffic signals and other road improvements are finishing up along Route 5, particularly near the Intermediate Terminal building, where work is expected to start next year on Stone Brewing’s planned bistro and beer gardens.

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Bruce Milam
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Its good to see that the “blue” building will be demolished. It was literally the sore thumb at Rocketts Landing. WVS and Richard Souter are doing a bang up job there. I spoke to a resident the other day and she said she couldn’t be happier anywhere else in Richmond. She loves the amenities.

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