Twin 11-story towers planned for Manchester riverfront; sky bridge included

The River’s Edge II apartment buildings facing south. (Renderings courtesy Cornerstone Architecture/Ratio PC)

A local development team with a knack for density and height are at it again with their biggest project yet in Manchester.

CMB Development’s Guy Blundon and Purcell Construction CEO Mark Purcell are moving forward with plans to construct a $75 million, two-tower project at 310 W. Sixth St.

The development’s 344 units would be spread between twin 11-story buildings that will rise next door to the group’s previous project: the 10-story, $40 million River’s Edge at Manchester.

Since it opened in spring 2018, Blundon said River’s Edge has enjoyed a swift lease-up with an occupancy rate now hovering around 96 percent.

“What is happening, as far as rents and leasing is concerned, is absolutely astounding,” Blundon said of River’s Edge. “We’re getting over $2 a square foot on average. If you told me 10 years ago that we’d be getting that much over per square foot in Manchester, I would have called you crazy … but here we are.”

That success is in part what’s driving this newest project, dubbed River’s Edge II.

The group, which also includes Charlottesville developers and investors Keith Woodard and Ludwig Kuttner, is set to purchase the 2.2-acre West Sixth Street site during the first quarter of 2020 for an undisclosed amount, Blundon said.

It most recently was assessed by the city for about $3.5 million, according to city real estate records.

The property is currently owned by City View Tower LLC, an entity tied to Thalhimer Realty Partners and Purcell.

The two towers at River’s Edge II would be connected at the base by a large covered parking garage with two levels of parking for 372 vehicles, Blundon said.

The two buildings that make up Rivers Edge II will be connected by a 2,500-square-foot skybridge lounge on the top level.

Connected to the buildings’ top levels will be a 2,500-square-foot sky bridge that will double as a party and gathering space, and can be rented out to residents for events. It also will include an outdoor patio area facing the James River and downtown.

“It will have super ceiling heights and fantastic views of the river and the city,” Blundon said. “It will be super splendid.”

Of the 344 apartments, Blundon said about 75 to 80 percent are projected to be one-bedroom units going for market rates. The remaining balance would be two-bedroom units.

Market rents in Manchester are pushing $980 to $1,175 a month for one-bedroom units, while two-bedroom units are fetching upwards of $1,500 a month.

Blundon said the group also is exploring the possibility of merging a few of the units into large penthouses, given the views of the river and downtown skyline.

The River’s Edge II apartment project facing the James River.

The main street-level entry to the buildings will include house amenities such as a pool, a leasing center, a fitness and business center, interior and exterior dog walks, and bicycle parking.

Blundon said the group is working with Norfolk Southern Railroad to acquire an unnamed roadway south of the property that would connect the project to Perry Street and serve as the main entry to the buildings.

No commercial spaces are planned for the project.

Regarding the views, Blundon said River’s Edge II was carefully designed to not obstruct the patio view at Legend Brewing Co., which sits south of the development.

Blundon said construction would take roughly 18 months to complete, with a target opening date of summer 2021.

While the site will not require any rezoning, a formal plan of development must still be filed.

“We have informally met with planners about our plans for the project,” Blundon said.

Purcell Construction is the general contractor. Richmond-based Ratio PC in association with Cornerstone Architecture and Interior Design are designing the project; while Claire Shirley of Gradient PC is the site engineer.

River’s Edge II adds to CMB’s growing assortment of apartment projects across the region.

The company has started site work on Shiplock Views, a 180-unit project that will rise beside the existing 51-unit Shiplock Watch apartments in the 2800 block of East Main Street, just east of its intersection with Pear Street.

The group is preparing to go vertical on Commonwealth Green, a $30 million, 240-unit apartment community on 11 acres at 5411 Commonwealth Centre Parkway near the Commonwealth Centre Parkway and Route 288 interchange in Chesterfield.

Summerfield Apartments, a new independent senior living apartment community set to rise on the northern edge of Winterfield Crossing in Chesterfield, also is in the pipeline. Plans call for the construction of about 120 apartments to begin sometime during the first quarter of 2020, Blundon said, with another phase of 120 apartments slated to take shape on the site upon demand.

CMB’s Winterfield at Midlothian apartment development is complete on the eastern edge of the development. He said about 60 of the 238 units remain vacant.

Manchester marvel

Traffic cones, dirt trucks and fenced-off lots are becoming the norm in Manchester, specifically north of Commerce Road in an area developers are coining upper Manchester — mainly due to the number of tower projects going up.

Richmond-based Lynx Ventures launched construction earlier this year on The Current, a $68 million, two-building office, retail and residential project on a 2-acre surface lot at 400 Hull St.

Work is underway at 111 Hull St., where WVS Cos.’ Jason Vickers-Smith and Richard Souter, along with Fountainhead Properties’ Tom Papa, are building the first phase of their South Falls development. Phase one will include a 14-story, 255-unit apartment building, which Vickers-Smith said would be ready for residential occupancy by 2020, as well as a six-story, 135,000-square-foot office building.

The group also is preparing to break ground on South Falls East, a $50 million project at 3 Manchester Road that will include a seven-story building with 233 apartments and commercial space.

Meanwhile, construction crews continue to plug away at the latest phase of City View Landing, a $25 million addition with 161 apartments and 13,300 square feet of ground-level commercial space.

“You have to marvel at Manchester’s growth these past couple of years,” Blundon said. “It has changed so quickly, and at the moment, it doesn’t appear to be slowing anytime soon.”

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Bruce Milam
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Bruce Milam

I think “super splendid” has just entered the vernacular to describe the new developments rising on the Richmond waterfront!

Michael Dodson
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Michael Dodson

Super splendid??? It building site is set back from the street with a long CMU wall and no retail along 6th Street. It has a driveway and paved parking. It is the same colors and materials as ever other building going up and well it looks like a Vegas hotel and not a very good urban infill development. Does not even come close to what the City’s Downtown Master Plan and the Urban Center area development standards call for (not the Urban Core standards either) but with the rents it will make someone one money. Infill is good but quality… Read more »

Ed Christina
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Michael;
What is a CMU wall?
thanks.

David Humphrey
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David Humphrey

CMUs are concrete mason units (cinder blocks) if I am not mistaken.

Michael Dodson
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Michael Dodson

David has it right. I was teased by a builder as steel coke/ash cinder has not be in them for years!

Garry Whelan
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Garry Whelan

He can tease you all he likes, but the cement used to make the blocks contains PFA, usually sourced from coal furnaces.
(Materials nerd warning)

Eric Richards
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Eric Richards

Exactly. The buildings look horrible. These dark colors going up all over town have to stop. It will be such a shame to have something so ugly on our beautiful riverfront!

Brian Ezzelle
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Brian Ezzelle

Are the Carolina Hurricanes a corporate sponsor of this building?

David Humphrey
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David Humphrey

I really don’t think they need retail down there. It would just end up being dead retail anyways. No one is going to go to a store tucked all the way down there at the end of a dead end street. Better to use the residential from this to bolster the other retail in the area. Can’t really argue against the rest of the comment though.

Ed Christina
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“Regarding the views, Blundon said River’s Edge II was carefully designed to not obstruct the patio view at Legend Brewing Co., which sits south of the development.”

There is no way that hole in the middle will not occlude the view from Legend.

They might as well make it three solid buildings and offer more parking.

There is no way you can put an 11 story building there and not block the views from that area.

I’m not saying they don’t have a right to do so, but that’s a strange note to put in there.

Matt Faris
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Matt Faris

The only way that view remains is with a live-cam that is displayed on a giant big screen monitor just off of the Legend deck. I guess it was bound to happen at some point.

Dave Housel
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Dave Housel

The proposed design is ugly. This will be an eye sore. Please go back to the drawing board and come up with a better design.

Charles Frankenhoff
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Charles Frankenhoff

I’m glad they are building things there, and like the height, but I’m another vote for wishing they were less ugly and engaged the street better. This is a very short pump design, the city deserves better

Sid Michael
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Sid Michael

Awesome! Looks graet

Randall Hudgins
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Randall Hudgins

Maybe when the tenants of River’s Edge II get bored of their amazing view they will go have a beer at Legend and stare fondly at their apartment building.

All kidding aside, CMB Development should have offered Legend a spot on their rooftop–could have been a win-win.

Ed Christina
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Roof top bars are one of the the most positive developments in recent years.