In a departure from its usual formula of suburban residential projects, a Henrico-based homebuilder firm is betting big on Manchester.
Eagle Construction of VA is under contract to purchase two adjacent parcels overlooking the James River at 401 and 421 W. Seventh St., where it will build 27 townhomes.
The lots, which total about 1 acre, are owned by a group that includes local attorney Jack Pearsall. The group put the land up for sale last fall, with brokers Tom Rosman and Charlie Westbrook of One South Commercial handling the listing.
The wooded land, wedged between Legend Brewing and Jeremy Connell’s 7West townhouse project, is one of the last developable river bluff sites in the neighborhood.
“This is the only remaining property with unobstructed river views, so we have to take that into consideration when developing the site, “said Will Kennedy, Eagle Construction of VA director of land acquisition and strategy. “This is going to be a premium product.”
While Kennedy would not disclose how much Eagle Construction is slated to pay for the properties, he said the firm is set to close on the sites by mid-2019, pending city approval for the plan of development.
Kennedy said Pearsall also is a co-developer of the proposed townhome project.
The parcels have been owned by the Pearsalls for more than 15 years and most recently were assessed by the city at a combined $1.5 million. The site is zoned RF-2 Riverfront District, which allows for buildings up to 13 stories.
Preliminary plans calls for two rows of townhomes to be constructed on the property.
One row fronting West Seventh Street would be all four-story units, according to the plans, while the townhomes on the riverside would each be three stories.
Kennedy described the pending townhome project as a small-scale version of the residential sections of GreenGate, a mixed-use development led by Eagle’s sister private equity firm Markel | Eagle.
That includes high-end interior and exterior finishes – with the added kicker of outdoor spaces taking advantage of the views of the James River. An alleyway accessible via McDonough Street would provide two-vehicle garage access for future residents.
No commercial uses are planned for the project.
Eagle Construction is set to meet with city personnel this week to discuss the preliminary plans for the development.
Construction and pre-selling of the townhomes are slated for summer 2019.
Prices for the townhomes haven’t been set, Kennedy said.
Given the site’s river and city views, Kennedy said the units are expected to fetch higher-end sales prices much like the neighboring 7West development – where several of the custom units are selling for close to $1 million.
Swooping into Manchester is a shift from Eagle’s normal course of business and Kennedy said the firm is following demand into the city.
“It’s time that we expand beyond our typical suburban model and address the growing demand of people looking to live in urban environments. … This project gets us there,” Kennedy said. “People are moving back downtown, and as a company, we have to position ourselves to accommodate this kind of demand.”
And the firm is not done with Richmond.
Kennedy said Eagle is working to secure deals to construct new townhome and condominium developments across the city, including in the Manchester and Forest Hill neighborhoods.
He said condos, in particular, are a possibility.
“We feel condo development is a very underserved part of the market right now,” Kennedy said.
Eagle already is testing the market for condos in Henrico, where it is waiting to begin construction for Markel | Eagle on three five-story condo buildings with up to 16 units in each structure. Those will be built on the last 12 acres Markel | Eagle owns in West Broad Village and that project also will include 13 single-family homes.