Two Manchester firms make way for D.C. group’s land play

bay diesel building

Bay Diesel & Generators and Bass Crane Service will vacate their property at 700 Semmes Ave. this summer. (J. Elias O’Neal)

Two Manchester businesses are ditching their longtime digs as a team of D.C. investors already familiar with the area is swooping in to take over the property.

Bay Diesel & Generator and Bass Crane Service are preparing to vacate their shared 1.7-acre property at 700 Semmes Ave. after more than two decades there.

The move comes after the companies entered into a 1031 reverse exchange agreement earlier this year with Richmond Terraces LLC, the new owners of the neighboring Terraces at Manchester apartments, said Bay Diesel’s Lee Newton.

Newton would not disclose an exact purchase price for the Semmes Avenue property, which includes a 12,000-square-foot building and is expected to close in June. He said the property likely would close at about $3 million.

Divaris Real Estate brokers Read Goode and Cheryle Toy are representing Bay Diesel and Bass Crane in the transaction. The property was most recently assessed for $842,000, according to city records.

No plans have been filed to develop the Semmes Avenue site. Newton said the investors specialize in multitenant development.

The D.C.-based group purchased the Terraces at Manchester at 800 Semmes Ave. in June 2017 for $30 million from a business entity owned by builder Mark Purcell and developers Robin Miller and Dan Gecker.

Purcell, whose Purcell Construction Corp. is constructing a 10-story apartment building at 505 Porter St. with developer Guy Blundon, said he is not involved in development of the Bay Diesel site.

The Manchester site served as Bay Diesel’s and Bass Crane’s metro Richmond nerve center, where their 30 collective employees handled sales and equipment maintenance.

Started in 1982, Bay Diesel supplies diesel engines and electrical generators and provides maintenance for emergency power systems for hospitals, data centers and communications facilities. Outside Richmond, it has offices in Chesapeake, Roanoke, and Charleston, West Virginia.

Bass Crane Service dates back to the early 1900s. Owned and operated by Bruce Bass, the company provides crane and truck rentals.

The companies plan to invest about $1.5 million into the Holly Springs Avenue property, where demolition is underway to renovate and expand an existing structure into a 20,000-square-foot facility.

Midlothian-based Fas Trac General Contracting is overseeing the project, and Jones & Jones Associates Architects has been tapped to design it.

Once open and operational at its new site, Newton said, the firms plan to begin hiring more people to expand operations.

“The city has been great to work with, and we’re excited to remain in the city,” Newton said. “Moving out of Manchester is bittersweet, but this was the right decision for the future growth of our company.”

The companies’ departure comes as more Manchester land opens up for non-industrial users.

Two adjacent parcels totaling 1 acre at 401 and 421 W. Seventh St. hit the market last year and are gaining “serious interest,” said Tom Rosman, broker with One South Commerical, who shares the listing with fellow broker Charlie Westbrook. The sites’ riverfront zoning designation allows for development of 425,000 square feet of residential and commercial space, Rosman said.

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2 Comments on "Two Manchester firms make way for D.C. group’s land play"

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Bruce Milam
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This is a great property and it’ll be interesting to see how they choose to develop it. Will they plunge in with direct competition with Purcell/CMB’s new towner on the river or will they choose to do something more akin to Link-Manchester?

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[…] Richmond BizSense is reporting that Bay Diesel and Bass Crane Service located at 700 Semmes Ave are both scheduled to vacate their property and relocate as part of a property exchange that values the parcel at approximately $3 Million. If the move is completed as planned, the parcel would potentially be made available for apartment high rise development. Here is what Richmond BizSense had to say about the transaction: […]

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