Another surface parking lot in the Monroe Ward section of downtown has caught the eye of developers.
A group of buyers is seeking to rezone a cluster of 13 contiguous lots at the corner of South 1st and East Canal streets to the city’s TOD-1, or transit-oriented nodal district designation, which allows for taller, midrise development of up to 12 stories.
Jennifer Mullen, an attorney with law firm Roth Jackson who is representing the unidentified buyers, said the group is planning an apartment project for the site.
The properties, which total 0.65 acres, are at 108, 108½, 110, 112, 112½, 114, 114½, 116, 118 and 120 S. 1st St.; and 10, 14 and 18 E. Canal streets.
They sit on an elevated block that overlooks the Downtown Expressway and across First Street from the Matrix Midtown apartment building.
The lots have been under contract since late last year, said Fred Jones, owner of W.C. Hutchinson Real Estate Inc., which manages the site for a trio of property owners, including a business entity managed by local attorney Jack Pearsall.
The buyers have retained Spencer Grice, an architect with Richmond-based SMBW Architects, to design the apartment project, Mullen said. However, details about the proposed apartment building, including its height and number of units, remain in the works.
The purchase of the property, which has sat mostly vacant for 45 to 50 years, is contingent upon the rezoning of the site, Jones said.
While a price for the 13 lots was not publicly released, the lots most recently were assessed at a combined $1.2 million.
Members of the city’s planning commission on Monday recommended the proposed rezoning move forward. The City Council will vote on the request at its June 24 meeting.
City planners have marked this section of downtown for higher density since 2009 as part of its Urban Center Area Downtown Plan and, more recently, its Pulse Corridor Plan — each encouraging a mix of residential and commercial uses.
Infill development in Monroe Ward also has become a priority for city planners, who have been working to update zoning in the neighborhood to encourage development, particularly of surface parking lots.
And it has been picking up steam recently, with Eagle Construction of VA submitting plans last week for 21 townhomes on a nearby surface parking lot at 1 E. Main St.