Former Manchester box factory site to become “The Box” apartment development

Rendering of The Box. (Courtesy city documents)

One of the Southside’s most prolific developers is lining up another sizable project in Manchester.

Tom Papa’s Fountainhead Assets filed plans in late June for a seven-story mixed-use project with 118 apartments to rise at 501, 509 and 511 Decatur St.

Papa has dubbed the project The Box, inspired by a former MeadWestvaco box factory that once stood on the land. The half-acre site currently houses a vacant 1,400-square-foot building and surface parking lot adjacent to the Port RVA building.

The $21 million project is set to rise next to the Port RVA apartment building. (Mike Platania)

Of the building’s 118 units, 88 will be one-bedroom units and the remaining 30 will be two bedrooms. The Box will total 134,000 square feet and Papa said the project will cost around $21.2 million.

While the apartments will be market-rate, Papa said they hope to offer them on the more affordable side of the market.

“We’re trying to do the best we can to try to make sure that these apartments are dialed in to make it affordable,” Papa said. “We are examining different ways to make the floor space more efficient and have all the same amenities as our other Fountainhead projects, but we are spending just a little more time trying to make it so there’s a greater efficiency.”

Some of the aforementioned amenities at The Box include a pool, gym and 89 parking spots in a deck below it. The project also will include 4,200 square feet of commercial space on the first floor.

“Before COVID we had a very interesting dialogue going with a wonderful restaurateur,” for the commercial space, Papa said. “In the age of COVID, who knows what it’ll be.”

A front-facing rendering of The Box. (Courtesy city documents)

Walter Parks Architects is the architect and HG Design is the project’s engineer. Lory Markham of Markham Planning submitted The Box’s plan of development on behalf of Fountainhead.

Papa said he hopes to break ground by year-end.

Papa has owned the land since 2013 when he bought the parcels in a larger deal for $2.9 million. The land was part of the stretch of Hull Street that was rezoned to B-4 Central Business district as the city sought more density in Manchester.

The Box would rise adjacent to the former Seaboard train depot building at 604 Hull St., which is being eyed for redevelopment by Doug Albertson and Palmer Wilkins.

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Hilary Meehan
Hilary Meehan
29 days ago

Ah, it’s the central business district zoning that is allowing these projects to provide less parking than units or tenant expectations.
118 units, potentially and likely 148 tenants (based on 30 two bedroom units), retail tenants, and staff – with only 89 parking spaces.
At some point, parking and street planning needs to be addressed in Manchester.
I appreciate the design of the project, but be careful to attend to quality of life consideration when choosing “efficient” construction – ie: sound control and decent glazing go a long way in multi-family livability.