Former Jackson Ward newspaper office bought for redevelopment project

205 e clay st

The building at 205 E. Clay St. most recently housed offices for The Voice newspaper. (J. Elias O’Neal)

The former headquarters of a local African-American newspaper has been sold to a Harrisonburg-based developer that’s making its second play in Jackson Ward.

Hammond Asset Management closed last week on the purchase of 205 E. Clay St., which most recently housed offices for The Voice newspaper.

The $209,000 deal was confirmed by Sanford Appelman, a broker with Keller Williams Realty who represented Hammond. Colliers International broker Sara Williamson represented the seller. The building was most recently assessed for $271,000, according to property records.

Dain Hammond, president of his namesake development firm, said it plans to renovate the two-story, 2,600-square-foot building. He said his other company, Hammond Insurance Services, will occupy the second level. He’ll look to lease the ground floor to another office user.

“It’s a great location and we like Jackson Ward,” Hammond said. “We have several restaurant clients in the Fan, and this location is in a central location to those clients and in an area to pick up additional clients.”

Work on the building is set to begin this week, he said, with the hope of occupying it by May 1.

This is the second building Hammond has purchased in Jackson Ward. The firm is wrapping up renovations to 209 E. Clay St., a mixed-use, 3,300-square-foot structure that houses an apartment on the second floor and office space on the ground floor.

207 e clay st

Hammond is wrapping up renovations to 209 E. Clay St. (J. Elias O’Neal)

“We’re doing the leasing ourselves,” Hammond said of 209 E. Clay St. “We’re looking for a user, like an attorney, to occupy the whole building … something where the tenant will be able to live above their work quarters.”

Hammond Insurance is a family-owned agency that sells coverage for industries including restaurants, contractors and retailers. The company also sells home, auto and renters policies for individuals, and offers group and individual health insurance.

Hammond Insurance operates six branches in Staunton, Harrisonburg, Scottsville, Lexington and Palmyra. The firm’s Richmond office operates at 1127 W. Main St. in the Fan, which it will vacate once the Jackson Ward space is complete.

Hammond said he plans to invest about $300,000 to improve his latest acquisition. Because of the size of the structure, he said he is not seeking tax credits.

One of the earliest buildings constructed in Jackson Ward, the East Clay Street structure dates to 1900, according to city property records. It has served as office space for several users, including The Voice from 1985 to 2014, when publisher and founder Jack J. Green died.

Hammond said he’s bullish on Jackson Ward and the surrounding downtown area, and is hoping to make more transactions within the vicinity.

“It’s a very historic neighborhood, and that’s what I like about it,” he said. “We’re looking to do more mixed-use student housing, shopping centers and tax credit projects in the area.”

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Bruce Milam

Congratulations to Colliers agent Sara Marie Williamson who is making her way in the business with numerous investment sales.