The owner of the Canal Crossing complex is looking to add residential density to the commercial property nearly two decades after she redeveloped it.
Margaret Freund’s Fulton Hill Properties is planning to add two stories’ worth of apartments on top of the bulk of its Canal Crossing complex at East Cary and South 15th streets.
The addition would put 44 apartments above the former tobacco warehouse that houses Buffalo Wild Wings and architecture firm Baskervill, which is in the process of moving its offices to the James Center after 17 years as one of Canal Crossing’s original occupants.
Plans submitted to the city’s Commission of Architectural Review show apartments with balconies set back from the building’s street-lining footprint with varying rooftop heights and facades. The plans, designed by Poole & Poole Architecture, show the apartments would average 710 square feet in size and encircle a courtyard with a fitness center and club room.
The project would be comparable to another Fulton Hill project that added 12 apartments on top of the Glavé & Holmes Architecture building at 21st and Main streets. That project, undertaken in 2016, expanded Fulton Hills’ adjacent Haxall View apartments.
The Canal Crossing plans were submitted to CAR for conceptual review, an advisory process that does not involve approvals and is intended for the commission to provide initial feedback. The project would come back to the commission for final review and would require a certificate of appropriateness before a building permit could be issued, according to review guidelines for projects in the city’s old and historic districts.
During the conceptual review session at the commission’s meeting last month, several members asked for a greater building setback and took issue with its appearance in relation to the industrial-style warehouse below.
Commission member Sandy Bond, of local design firm 3north, described the addition as looking like “a townhouse project that was taken from Midlothian and plunked down onto this building. It doesn’t seem to me it has any relationship to the building or where it is.”
“You’re in a historic, industrial area, and I don’t see any of that in this,” he said. “I would think about that when you’re designing it.”
City staff said the proposal does not meet all of the guidelines but would be appropriate given the location’s visibility and consistency with existing building heights. Staff suggested that Fulton Hill consider adding to the setback or staggering the top floor height to further limit visibility from the street.
Reached Monday, Freund said the feedback would be worked into the project, which she described as driven in part by Canal Crossing’s proximity to the GRTC Pulse bus rapid transit line.
In an email, Freund said: “We know the city is looking for more density around the BRT stops, so this plan aligns with these city goals. We believe we can respond easily to the design suggestions received in the CAR conceptual review.”
Freund developed Canal Crossing in 2002, rehabbing the two-story former tobacco warehouse and connecting it via an atrium to a neighboring five-story warehouse, which dates back to 1916 and was one of several buildings formerly owned by Philip Morris.
Last year, the complex was under contract to be sold to a group that included Duke Dodson, president of Dodson Development Partners, but the deal never materialized. Dodson has shown an interest in the Shockoe area in recent years, most recently picking up three Cary Street buildings a block west of Canal Crossing in a $6.8 million deal with DagDor Investments in January.
A project description submitted with Fulton Hill’s plans states the addition above the two-story warehouse would remain below the height of the five-story building and match the height of two nearby buildings. The plans include two options for façade designs and colors: one described as a rust pallet option and the other a gray pallet, each referring to the five-story brick building or the two-story stainless-steel structure.
The proposal comes at a time of increased activity at Canal Crossing, where several tenants have been coming and going in recent months. While Baskervill is moving out, another architecture firm, RRMM Architects, moved in last year. Other tenants include mapping firm WorldView Solutions and brewpub ShipLock Brewing, which moved into the former 7 Hills Seafood & Brewing Co. space in December.
Fulton Hill is wrapping up one of its biggest projects to date: the $40 million Artisan Hill development consisting of 204 apartments and other uses beside the Fulton School east of Rocketts Landing.