$40M ‘RiverHaus’ development planned for Manchester

The 2.2-acre site at the southern end of the Lee Bridge. (Greg Montalto)

An Ohio-based developer is going big along the Manchester riverfront.

Brickhaus Partners filed preliminary plans with the city’s planning division in late June for its RiverHaus development – a mix of townhomes and apartments on a 2.2-acre tract on the west side of Cowardin Avenue at the southern end of the Robert E. Lee bridge.

Brickhaus principal Andrew Brickman said plans call for 21 for-sale townhomes to line outer fringes of the property along Riverside Drive and Cowardin Avenue. A seven-level apartment building also is planned for the site, which will include two levels of parking and five levels of 130 or 140 apartments above. Several two-story townhome units would be constructed at the base of the building to hide the parking garage.

“These units are going to have some of the best views in the city,” Brickman said. “They’re going to be surrounded by the park on one side, and will have unobstructed views of downtown. … We think what we have in place now is the highest and best use for that site.”

The undeveloped site at 700 Cowardin Ave. (Jonathan Spiers)

The property consists of five parcels at 1701 Stonewall Ave., 700 Cowardin Ave. and 701, 705 and 715 W. 19th St. A city assessment most recently valued the parcels at $2.8 million.

Each of the townhomes also would be accessible by private alleyways connecting the development to Stonewall and West 19th streets.

The firm hasn’t set an asking price for the townhomes, Brickman said.

The apartment building also would include a pool, fitness center and leasing office with concierge service to be shared by all RiverHaus residents.

Brickman said his firm is under contract to purchase the site as part of an agreement between local developer Jeremy Connell and Charlotte-based Northwood Ravin.

Connell, whose nearby developments include the 7West townhomes along West Seventh Street, had placed the site under contract about three years ago in a deal with Northwood Ravin.

Northwood Ravin purchased the land in 2011, after a previous plan for the site called Manchester on the James had stalled out after receiving approval for 200 apartment units.

The project never materialized, and the company attempted to unload the property in 2013 and again in 2016, before Connell approached the firm with an offer to buy.

Connell rezoned the site during summer 2018 to the city’s RF-2 Riverfront District, a change that allows for buildings up to 13 stories in height. Proffers included with the rezoning restrict building heights along 19th Street to 35 feet.

Connell said at the time he was approached by Lory Markham, owner of local land-use consultancy Markham Planning and One South Commercial agent, about Brickhaus’s interest in entering the market.

Connell then entered into an agreement last fall that assigned the purchase contract with Northwood Ravin to Brickhaus.

Brickman said the firm hopes to break ground on the project by the fourth quarter of 2019. It has yet to select a general contractor for the project. Walter Parks Architects is designing RiverHaus, while Markham is overseeing its application for development.

RiverHaus is Brickhaus’ first development in Virginia, with the firm setting its sights on other deals – specifically in Richmond.

It also will be one of the most significant projects in decades to hit the Springhill neighborhood – a 28-acre former suburb of Manchester in the early 20th century that’s bounded by West 19th to West 22nd Streets, and Riverside Drive to Semmes Avenue.

Much of the surrounding area of Semmes and Cowardin avenues is poised for a significant transformation.

Crews are clearing the 7.3-acre site across from RiverHaus for Riverview Apartments, a 270-unit apartment and townhome development by Alabama-based LIV Development at 1401 Railroad Ave. The company paid about $8.2 million for the site last spring.

Across Semmes Avenue 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.

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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Brian Glass
Brian Glass
2 years ago

At some point in time the housing bubble in Manchester will burst, and a developer or perhaps more than one developer will get burned. My analogy is similar to blowing a bubble with bubble gum as a kid. The bubble grew larger and larger and would finally burst. We didn’t know when it would burst, but it always did!

Bob Fishman
Bob Fishman
2 years ago
Reply to  Brian Glass

What in Manchester indicates to you a bubble is forming ? Or do you think all of real estate is bubbling ? Please elaborate. It seems like a lot of news on the topic of apt development in RVA repeatedly notes a shortage of apartments in the Richmond area along with a rise in the area’s population which would indicate plenty of demand, so just curious about your take on the area. Thanks.

Jonathon Brown
Jonathon Brown
2 years ago
Reply to  Bob Fishman

It’s a shortage of affordable apartments is the issue. You think the average person can afford rent on a place that’s 2,000…3,000 or more a month. No. Most people are struggling and getting into debt at 1,000. Or less. So yes, a bubble can be forming on those types of apartments because they are priced well outside what most can pay….while affordable living….just is getting harder and harder

Brendan Westfall
Brendan Westfall
2 years ago

This sounds like it will be an excellent addition to the Manchester skyline! And it is good to see that the project will offer the opportunity to both own and rent. That diversity of living situations is something we could certainly use more of in projects like this in RVA. Welcome to the community Brickhaus, I am excited to see this project develop!

Brett Themore
Brett Themore
2 years ago

This is not Manchester! This is Springhill, you get it right in the body of the article, why the wrong headline? Oh wait… nevermind.

charles Frankenhoff
charles Frankenhoff
2 years ago
Reply to  Brett Themore

in fairness most will think it’s Manchester, and that’s certainly it’s “development” slot. I admit I would have thought this was Woodland Heights, I’d never heard of Spring Hill. But “Manchester” is how most will think of it.