A trio of developers with a history of investment on the Southside is going big in Manchester.
Lynx Ventures, launched recently by a group that includes former Fountainhead Properties co-founder Rick Gregory, is readying a 2-acre surface lot at 400 Hull St. for a $50 million to $60 million mixed-use development dubbed The Current.
Two five-story buildings will rise on the site: one with 40,000 square feet of office space in four stories and 6,000 square feet of ground-level retail mostly fronting Hull Street, and the other near Fourth and Hull streets that will house 214 apartments on four levels above 10,000 square feet of ground-level commercial space.
“We want for this project to be a catalyst piece,” Lynx principal Bernard Harkless said. “We want this to be a spark that really jumpstarts more development on the Southside … that’s why it’s called The Current.”
The firm, which owns the land, plans to submit its plan of development with the city by early summer, with construction set to kick off by October or November – taking about 20 months to complete. The site currently serves as parking for the group’s neighboring Plant Zero development.
Hickok Cole is The Current’s architect and Kimley Horn is providing landscape architectural services. KBS is handling predevelopment services, and Brian Jackson with Hirschler Fleischer is providing legal representation.
A four-story parking garage with 270 to 330 spaces will connect the two buildings in the middle of the development, with access via Fifth Street.
The development firm also plans to bore the power lines on its property along Fourth, Fifth and Hull streets underground to create improved street-level appearance for The Current.
A planned 4,400-square-foot courtyard corridor linking Hull and Fourth streets will provide gathering space for pedestrians and future tenants.
“We look at the courtyard as an important, and necessary, amenity for a project of this scope,” Harkless said. “The courtyard is designed to be the central meeting point for the neighborhood … something people in the area have wanted for a while.”
Lynx Ventures plans to handle leasing for The Current in house.
“We’ve had conversations with multiple office users, not just one exclusive user,” Harkless said of the office building. “We’ve had some users looking at 10,000 square feet, or some between 3,000 and 5,500 square feet … it’s enough interest to make us comfortable enough to move forward with the office building.”
While Lynx Ventures has been a proponent of low-income workforce housing in Manchester, Harkless said The Current will be leasing its mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments at market rates in an attempt to lure retailers and restaurants.
The market rate for a new studio or one-bedroom apartment in Manchester ranges from $985 to $1,050 per month. Rates for a new two-bedroom units range from $1,150 to $1,300.
“In this case, we need those higher rents to help drive retail to the project,” Harkless said.
The group’s plans were spurred in part by the recent central business district rezoning that allows looser parking requirements and taller buildings on surface lots in surrounding blocks.
“Getting the rezoning was important because we can build this development outright,” Harkless said.
The Current is the largest new construction project Lynx Ventures has undertaken since it was launched earlier this year by Harkless, Gregory and his son John Gregory. And it adds to the company’s running tab of investment in Manchester and the surrounding area.
The company is overseeing the $14.4 million addition of 104 residential units at New Manchester Flats, a multi-phased development it first launched with Fountainhead at 915 E. Fourth St. in southern Manchester.
Lynx also is overseeing the redevelopment of Clopton SiteWorks, a collection of 26 warehouses totaling 1 million square feet once owned by Philip Morris. It has been repurposed for small business and light manufacturing tenants.
Ushering a new phase for Clopton, Lynx has secured a $622,000 loan from Virginia Community Capital to redevelop three 20,000-square-foot buildings onsite that will include a commercial kitchen.