A squad of well-known local developers has their sights set on a Manchester plot next to the highly visible Southern States silos.
A group comprised of Fountainhead Development’s Tom Papa and WVS Cos.’ Jason Vickers-Smith and Richard Souter is under contract to purchase nearly 4 acres at 3 Manchester Road, where they’re pondering a potential mixed-use development.
The team is seeking a rezoning of the four parcels from riverfront district to central business district, according to an application filed last month with the city’s department of planning and development.
Lory Markham, whose agency Markham Planning is handling the rezoning appeal on behalf of the development team, said the change would let the developers seek more residential density and height on the site, beyond the six stories allowed under the current designation.
Markham said during a Manchester Alliance neighborhood association meeting last week the developers are eyeing more than 200 apartments on the site with some commercial uses. The group also is looking into adding an amenity area along the canal, and researching ways to improve the infrastructure – specifically traffic in and out of the proposed project.
Papa and Souter could not be reached for comment Friday.
No design or construction timelines have been set for the proposed project.
The group’s rezoning request could go before the planning commission and City Council in late summer or early fall, Markham said.
Pending the outcome of the rezoning, the development trio would purchase the site for an undisclosed amount. The parcels were most recently assessed at a combined $1.5 million, according to city property records.
The property has long been used for truck storage and parking, and includes a dilapidated vacant industrial building.
City planners flagged the area nearly a decade ago to be developed consistent with Richmond’s Urban Center Character Area, which calls for shedding the neighborhood’s longtime industrial footprint to allow for more residential and commercial density, and ultimately leading to its riverfront zoning designation.
But as Manchester’s popularity has soared, so has the desire to develop taller, denser developments.
Last month, the city council approved rezoning of 200, 214, 220, 320 and 400 Hull St.; 15 E. Second St.; 13 and 29 E. Third St.; and 409, 501, 509 and 511 Decatur St. to the B-4 central business district zoning designation, allowing for more dense development.
Fountainhead and WVS Cos. are no strangers to density.
The two groups are behind a $58 million, 12-story apartment building under construction at 1001 E. Byrd St., on a 1.2-acre site between their Locks development and Riverfront Plaza. They also are working together on a 105-unit apartment building at West Grace Street and Stuart Circle that will replace a parking lot behind St. John’s United Church of Christ.
With the neighboring property under contract, the owners of the Southern States Co-op silos at 4 Manchester Road are taking note.
H. Pettus LeCompte, one of the managers of Riverfront Silos LLC, which owns the facility, said the firm has no plans to sell the property – for now.
“Never say never,” LeCompte said of the 80-year-old structure. “But at this time we have no plans to sell the property … we’re going to hold on to it as is.”
Riverfront Silos purchased the 2-acre silo facility at the foot of the Mayo Bridge in 2004 from Southern States for $1.1 million, according to city records.
Recognizing Manchester’s changing landscape, LeCompte said the site, if it were to be sold, would be better suited to accommodate a mix of commercial or residential uses.
“What’s there is not the best use as the city has progressed,”he said. “There used to be more industrial, and now that is transitioning to be more habitational. Manchester is an exciting place, so whatever goes on our property down the line, it will be significant.”