7-acre tract near Lee Bridge sells for $8M

The plot under contract is to the left in the foreground. (BizSense file photo)

Two months after entering the market with a seven-figure deal for property in the suburbs, an Alabama-based apartment developer is zeroing in on Manchester for what’s shaping up to be one of the largest multifamily developments proposed in the neighborhood in recent years.

LIV Development has purchased 15 contiguous parcels totaling 7.3 acres near the Lee Bridge for about $8.2 million, said Bruce Milam, a broker with Harrison & Bates who represented LIV in the purchase.

The transaction, which comes out to about $1.2 million an acre, closed May 17, Milam said. The 15 parcels most recently were assessed by the city at a combined $8.1 million, according to property records.

Located at 1401 Railroad Ave., the site was primarily owned by prolific Manchester developers Robin Miller and Dan Gecker through their firm, Urban Development Associates. The remaining 1.2 acres was owned by a trust belonging to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

Urban Development Associates acquired the parcels in 2006 as part of a large land deal with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The groups listed the properties for sale about four years ago for about $8 million.

LIV is working with city planners on a development coined Riverview Apartments. Plans call for about 270 apartments across seven buildings, including a five-story building constructed over a podium to allow for parking below. Two four-story buildings would front mostly West 14th Street, and four rows of three-story townhome buildings totaling 15 units would border the development with frontage and access along Railroad Avenue and West 13th Street.

The project also would extend 13th and 14th streets to Railroad Avenue and would include off-street parking and sidewalks, including access to nearby Buttermilk Trail.

The project would be the firm’s first development in Richmond. It paid about $6 million in March for its Cosby Village Apartments project, a 305-unit development in Chesterfield County on 9.3 acres at 15500 Cosby Village Ave., near the Village Square Parkway and Otterdale Road intersection in the Woodlake area.

LIV’s other holdings consist of apartment communities in several metro areas in the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Texas.

One site leads to another

Milam said LIV was in the area last year to scope out property in Chesterfield for Cosby Village when, after putting that site under contract, the firm asked about other locations in the region.

“They fell in love with it,” Milam said of the Manchester tracts, which LIV placed under contract last spring.

Richmond-based KBS has been secured as the project’s general contractor, while local land-use consultant Lory Markham is working with LIV on its development application.

A construction timeline and initial investment amount for Riverview Apartments was not released. Michael Ramsey, LIV’s director of development, did not immediately return a call for comment Monday afternoon.

The proposed development adds more heat to the busy Cowardin and Semmes avenues intersection in an area of South Richmond with mounting multifamily unit counts.

Work is underway on the former Muse Buick car dealership at 1400 Semmes Ave. in Manchester. (BizSense file photo)

Across from LIV’s site, work is underway on the former Muse Buick property at 1414 Semmes Ave. The Monument Cos.’ Chris Johnson and Tom Dickey, along with Howard Kellman of The Edison Co., paid $3.1 million in February for the property that ultimately will house 180 apartments and commercial space.

Richmond-based Harper & Associates has cleared out several metal warehouses at 1802 Semmes Ave. to make way for its mix of 106 townhomes and commercial space. Also, Ohio-based Brickhaus Partners remains under contract to purchase a 2.2-acre tract on the west side of Cowardin Avenue at the southern end of the bridge for a multifamily development.

Meanwhile, the former Citgo gas station at 418 Cowardin Ave. that had captured the attention of a potential Wawa development remains on the market.

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Bruce Milam
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Bruce Milam

The Semmes Avenue corridor, the Hull Street corridor and the 7th Street corridor are all rocking with new developments. Manchester is becoming a city again. I was fortunate to represent a terrific purchaser who knew how to work with equally responsible sellers. The land plan includes extending the 13th and 14th Street grid to Riverside Drive, opening vistas of the river from Semmes Avenue, and the dedication of a small tract of land at the corner of Cowardin Avenue for a public “welcome pocket park” into Manchester. It’ll be a wonderful community upon completion, adding to the fabric and the… Read more »

charles Frankenhoff
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charles Frankenhoff

wow, Bruce, you appear to be having a very busy year.

Bruce Milam
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Bruce Milam

The last several years have been very busy. Life is good. Its coincidental that these closings have been lined up in this way. I’ve been very fortunate and am very grateful.

David Humphrey
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David Humphrey

A pocket park at Semmes and Cowardin or the Riverside on-ramp and Cowardin? If it is at Semmes it would be cool if they gave a nod to the railroad that used to run through there. Also, when they extend 13th and 14th down to Railroad Avenue will Riverside be able to run into Railroad too or will that still be steered to the onramp for the bridge? Sounds like an interesting project.

Bruce Milam
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Bruce Milam

the City will be doing some kind of pedestrian plaza there. Railroad Avenue never existed except on paper. It was the ROW for the trains. Its ROW was traded for a ROW for 14th Street.

Malcolm Bates
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Malcolm Bates

Yes Bruce. That was my first sale. In 1971 I sold the corner lot to a used car salesman for $10,000. He paid in all cash at closing.

Bruce Milam
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Bruce Milam

You had quite the career in real estate Mac. We are all really disappointed to see the Harrison&Bates name retired from Richmond real estate after 109 years, effective May 31.