Bank signs on in new Locks Tower project

Locks Tower under construction. (Photos by Michael Schwartz)

A local bank is getting a canal view with its first downtown branch, while filling the entire commercial space in the latest phase of the Locks development.

West Point-based C&F Bank announced last week it signed on for about 8,700 square feet in the Locks Tower, a $58 million, 12-story mixed-use building under construction at 1001 E. Byrd St. along 10th Street and the Haxall Canal.

A view of the building under construction along Haxall Canal.

CEO Tom Cherry said the 90-year-old bank wasn’t aggressively looking for a space downtown, but that it liked the Locks space in part for its access in and out via the downtown expressway, which is a stone’s throw away.

“When the opportunity came available, we looked at it and thought this would be a great location,” Cherry said.

The bank also will get its name atop the building, giving its brand a presence in the downtown skyline.

“That’s not the reason we did it but it’s an added bonus,” Cherry said.

In addition to a retail branch, the new space will house employees from the 90-year-old bank’s commercial lending, wealth management and mortgage operations. The space will have room for about 40 workers.

The move downtown is one of three new outposts the bank has in the works. It expects to open new offices in Williamsburg and Charlottesville next month and the first part of 2020, respectively.

Tom Cherry. (BizSense file photo courtesy C&F)

Cherry said the Locks location will replace the bank’s existing office in Innsbrook at 4701 Cox Road. It also is closing its branch in the Shoppes at Bellgrade at 2500 Promenade Parkway, a location it inherited with its recession-era acquisition of Central Virginia Bank. The Bellgrade office will be consolidated into C&F’s Alverser Drive location, which is less than two miles south. The bank owns the standalone Bellgrade building and will list it for sale, he said.

The $1.5 billion bank will have 27 branches once it’s finished with all those moves, Cherry said.

He would not disclose the terms of the lease at the Locks, saying only that it’s a long-term one. He hopes to be in the Locks by year’s end, depending on construction progress. The bank still is in discussions with potential general contractors and architects.

The bank must also apply for regulatory approval for the new branch, which typically is a formality.

For WVS Cos. and Tom Papa, the developers of the Locks, the signing of the deal with C&F is a jolt for the new tower.

WVS Principal Richard Souter said the plan wasn’t necessarily to fill the project’s commercial space with a single tenant, but he’s not complaining.

Richard Souter. (BizSense file photo by Jonathan Spiers)

“To have this lease with C&F is just a great start to this building,” he said. “Sometimes things work out and sometimes things drag on for years.”

Apartments due at end of Q2

Souter said the goal is to deliver the first wave of the building’s 237 apartment units at the end of the second quarter and to have the entire building, including the commercial space, finished by year-end. Walter Parks Architects designed the building and KBS is the general contractor.

Financed by VHDA, the new tower is the sixth building within the Locks, which encompasses the multibuilding former Reynolds North aluminum and has been redeveloped in phases since 2012.

In addition to WVS and Papa, Philadelphia-based PRG Real Estate is an investor in the Locks and also property manager for the complex.

Souter said the tower is the last piece of the complex’s west side and they have two developable parcels remaining on the east side.

One of those two had been slated for a hotel in conjunction with local developer Charles MacFarlane, before that project fell through.

“We could plausibly have another two buildings,” Souter said, adding they have some ideas on the drawing board.

WVS also is working with Papa 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.

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Bruce Milam
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I recall looking out of a nearby building at that collection of buildings about ten years ago and thinking how ugly everything was. It has certainly turned around. The WVS/ Fountainhead/PRG team deserves a lot of credit for what they’ve done there. The new building looks great and adds to the Richmond skyline.

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