In 2005, Bob Kastenbaum made a bet on buying a small property in the Willow Lawn area across from his law office, thinking that he might need the property at some point should he need to move his practice.
That time finally has come.
Demolition soon will begin at 4900 Radford Ave., where his firm, Kerns & Kastenbaum, will construct a new two-story, 6,000-square-foot office building.
The site sits catty-corner from the firm’s current home on the third floor of the Allen & Allen building at 1809 Staples Mill Road.
“I’ve been in the Allen & Allen building for 25 years,” Kastenbaum said. “I bought the building across the street, just anticipating one day they might not have room for me and my group.”
With Allen & Allen having grown to the point that it needs extra room, Kastenbaum decided to move forward with the project.
It involves razing a rundown home-like office building that sits on the less-than-a-quarter-acre lot and building from scratch. Kastenbaum said he received the demolition permit for the project last week. Proper zoning is already in place and a plan of development has been filed.
The firm, which has three attorneys and six staffers handling real estate work, and personal injury and general litigation, will occupy the first floor of the new building. Kastenbaum said he’ll look to lease the second floor.
“I’ve already been approached by two (potential tenants) just by word-of-mouth,” he said.
Gray Construction is the general contractor on the project. Design work is being handled by Gray Construction and architect Charles Appich.
Kastenbaum said the design will fit in with other surrounding office buildings, with a brick-exterior first floor and concrete-facing second floor, and no shortage of windows.
“It’s somewhat traditional, but kind of modern,” he said.
Kastenbaum said the budget for the project is over $1 million and he’s considering financing part of the cost.
He said he’s glad to stay in the neighborhood, which houses about a dozen small law offices on and off Staples Mill Road between Monument Avenue and West Broad Street.
“We kind of have ‘lawyers row’ here now,” he said.
The area around Willow Lawn wasn’t quite as vibrant as it is today when Kastenbaum bought the Radford Avenue property 14 years ago for $220,000, Kastenbaum said. But his patience seems to have paid off.
“This area hadn’t died, but wasn’t doing well. In the last 10 years, it’s just unbelievable with what’s happening in this part of Richmond,” he said.