A collection of mostly derelict properties along West Cary Street at the edge of VCU territory is slated to meet the wrecking ball as an $18.5 million mixed-use development is in the works to take its place.
A group made up of Kevin O’Leary and James Flanigan, who own J.D. Lewis Construction Management, and local developer Larry Cluff are assembling 13 parcels near the corner of West Cary and South Laurel streets where they’ll build a four-story, 100-unit apartment project.
The group began quietly assembling the parcels last year, O’Leary said. Through their 805 W Group LLC, they purchased 801, 803, 805 and 807 W. Cary St.; 104, 106, 108 and 110 S. Laurel St.; and 812 and 814 Green Alley in late 2017 for a combined $1.9 million, according to city property records. Combined, the 10 parcels were assessed for about $1.7 million.
They also have a deal in the works to acquire 809, 811 and 815 W. Cary St., O’Leary said.
The 13 parcels encompass about 1 acre for the future project. They include four vacant buildings fronting West Cary Street, along with surface parking lots along South Laurel Street and Green Alley.
“It’s an excellent location,” O’Leary said. “We think the site lends itself to immediate access to downtown and several nearby destinations for future retail tenants and residents.”
Dubbed 805W, the project would include 10,000 square feet of retail on the ground level with parking for residents and future commercial users. The remaining three stories would include a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments, O’Leary said.
J.D. Lewis Construction will handle construction. Architecture Design Office is designing the project.
A plan of development has been submitted with the city’s planning division, O’Leary said. Construction is set to begin this spring and will take about a year to complete.
Despite its proximity to VCU, O’Leary said, the project is not designed as a student housing development, although students will be welcome to rent units in the building.
Rents for the units will be market rate.
Average rents for existing one-bedroom apartments in the surrounding area can range from $650 for an older apartment to up to $1,100 for newer units.
“We designed this to be living quarters for anybody that wants to live downtown,” O’Leary said. “The main amenity here is the walkability to restaurants, VCU and the downtown area.”
The third-floor units will include skylight balconies, where the window opens outward creating a roof balcony to maximize the space. The top level of the building also will include a community room where residents can access an outside patio with city views.
O’Leary and his partners are well-versed in infill development that adds density to the city’s core. J.D. Lewis is wrapping up construction on developer Josh Bilder’s Patrick Henry Square in Church Hill, and is building the Goodwyn Flats apartment development in Union Hill. The company also used historic tax credits to redevelop 501-503 E. Main St. downtown into apartments, retail space and the firm’s headquarters.