More residential density planned around Westhampton area

An elevation rendering of the two rows of townhomes Eagle Construction is planning on Libbie Avenue.

Higher density in the form of residential infill development continues to be a trend in Richmond’s Westhampton area. Two projects in the works in the vicinity of Libbie Avenue between Grove and Patterson avenues are planned to triple the number of homes currently on those lots.

Permit applications filed with the city in recent months show plans for two projects a stone’s throw from one another: one along Libbie Avenue directly across from The Tiber condos building, the other a block away along the stretch of Westview Avenue that dead-ends off of Patterson.

A site plan of the Libbie project. Click to enlarge.

Eagle Construction of VA is looking to build two rows of townhomes totaling 14 units on a pair of lots at 509 and 511 Libbie Ave. The new construction would replace two existing houses and fill the combined lots, which total about three-fourths of an acre.

On Westview, Richmond Hill Design + Build plans to replace six homes in the street’s 500 block with two clusters of homes totaling 12 units. The new homes would fill a total of 1.3 acres and would straddle an existing house that is not included in the project.

Both proposals require special-use permits and are listed as under review with the city planning department.

Libbie Avenue infill

The new townhomes are described as “classical in aesthetic.”

Eagle’s project would consist of townhomes described as “classical in aesthetic,” each ranging between 3,000 and 4,500 square feet in size. Each unit would have between three and five bedrooms, at least 3½ bathrooms and a two- or three-car garage accessed by a shared alley.

The two rows of seven townhomes would be oriented perpendicularly to Libbie, with one end of each row fronting the street and the private alley between them with access from Libbie.

Nathalie Croft, Eagle’s land development director, said price points for the homes have yet to be determined and a cost estimate for the project hasn’t been set. The unnamed project would add to other infill developments that Eagle is pursuing in other parts of the city, such as a 21-unit project planned in Monroe Ward.

“The neighborhood has such a vibrant feel with so many different amenities in walking distance,” Croft said of the area around the Libbie project. “These homes are designed to combine the classic, traditional architecture of the neighborhood with high-end, modern interior finishes.”

Croft said Eagle is anticipating going before the Richmond Planning Commission for a public hearing in late fall. The application states that a community meeting on the project was held in October and flyers were mailed to 30 residents in proximity to the site, as well as area civic and neighborhood associations.

Lory Markham with consulting firm Markham Planning is representing Eagle in its application, which includes a site plan by Timmons Group. Markham’s summary of the project notes The Tiber across the street as having added density to the neighborhood with 15 dwellings on three-fourths of an acre.

That building is fully occupied, with one of its penthouse units selling for $1.6 million in 2018 and the other listed this year at nearly $2 million.

The application also notes that the city’s master plan recommends mixed use for the property, which is equidistant between Libbie’s shopping areas at Grove and at Patterson. The application states that “although historically Grove and Patterson were separate shopping districts, there is an accelerating trend that will eventually join these into one shopping district.”

“This is an opportunity to bring a new housing type and homeowners to the area that will contribute to the positive mixed-use development trend for Libbie Avenue,” Markham’s summary reads, adding that the result will create a town center for the Westhampton area.

Eagle is working with property owner 509 Libbie LLC, which purchased the two parcels in 2017 for a total of $850,000, property records show. The latest city assessment valued the land, which includes the two 1,500-square-foot houses, at $312,000.

‘Westview at Libbie’

A conceptual site plan of the Westview at Libbie layout.

Richmond Hill’s project, called Westview at Libbie, involves six parcels from 502-514 Westview Ave., excluding the house at 510 Westview, which would remain standing between the two new-home clusters.

Richmond Hill principal Lloyd Poe said he worked around that property because the owner needed more time before she could negotiate a sale. He said the property could be added to the project if a sale is accomplished at a later date.

Westview at Libbie would replace six existing 1,000-square-foot houses with a dozen new homes varying between four designs and ranging from 3,000 to 3,500 square feet. Each would include four or five bedrooms, 3½ or 4½ bathrooms and a two-car garage, with prices starting at $900,000.

Elevations of the four home designs planned for Westview.

Nine of the homes would fill the southern cluster, while the remaining three would fill the cluster closest to Patterson. Each cluster would share a driveway leading to parking spaces.

Poe, who also worked with Markham on his permit application, said the project was brought to him by Mike Hanky with Shaheen Ruth Martin & Fonville Real Estate, who would list and market the homes. Poe put the project cost at $2.25 million.

While the city’s future land-use plan calls for low-density residential use for the site, Markham’s project summary notes that a proposed update to that plan recommends a higher density that allows for buildings as high as eight stories and 10-20 dwellings per acre. Poe said the proposed update, called Richmond 300, was a driving factor for the project.

“It’s not officially been adopted yet, but it’s sort of de facto what everybody’s using in the interim,” Poe said. “Everybody knows that area has become very desirable, and therefore because of its location, it’s becoming expensive property.

“A lot of those buyers are looking to a move-down product with a first-floor master (bedroom), and they don’t want a big yard,” Poe said, adding that Westview at Libbie would target older homeowners who want larger houses on smaller lots with less property to maintain.

Poe founded Midlothian-based LifeStyle Home Builders and Mechanicsville-based CraftMaster Homes before selling them in 2016. Since coming out of retirement, his projects in the city under the Richmond Hill flag include a cluster of five new homes and a rehab in the 2900 block of Ellwood Avenue. Poe said that project, which started last year, is about halfway done.

Poe is working on Westview with property owner FW Associates LLC, which purchased the six lots over the course of six years, the most recent last year. Property records show the LLC paid nearly $785,000 collectively for five of the six properties. The latest city assessment valued the six collectively at $1.11 million.

Poe said the project should go before the Planning Commission in December. His application states that a community meeting was planned in mid-March but needed to be rescheduled because of the pandemic. Flyers also were mailed to 30 residents near the site and area associations.

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Sally Wannabaker
Sally Wannabaker
27 days ago

So exciting that what’s left of (semi) affordable housing the neighborhood will be destroyed to make way for special-exception high-density units and more high-priced homes! I can’t wait to share my formerly charming neighborhood with new residents–surely we’ll bond while navigating more traffic, limited parking, waiting on the sidewalk for a seat at over-capacity restaurants, and jockeying to squeeze Hanover tomatoes at Libbie Market. Looking forward to it, y’all!

Jim Bohr
Jim Bohr
27 days ago

Sally, you must be fun at parties! Reactions like this never cease to amaze me. Are 26 new homes really going to destroy your “charming” neighborhood?

Virginia is a big state––I’m sure you could move somewhere a little more subdued where you can squeeze Hanover tomatoes in peace.

Quenn Fonchey
Quenn Fonchey
26 days ago
Reply to  Jim Bohr

Why should she move because a developer wants to put a ridiculously overcrowded project in a formerly sedate neighborhood? Using your logic, she should burden the expense of moving to another nice neighborhood just to be displaced eventually by another monstrosity.

We need to end the cycle of people putting their money and sweat into building nice neighborhoods/communities and then having them destroyed by allowing uncontrolled development and endless zoning exceptions for people profiting off of their work.

Hunter Wilson
Hunter Wilson
26 days ago
Reply to  Quenn Fonchey

Displaced? Density will allow more people to live in this area. Yes, new development tends to be more expensive but allowing higher density begins to undo decades of restrictive zoning that contributed to unnatural heightened costs for housing. Density and new supply will put downward pressure on housing costs in the wider area over time. She doesn’t have to move, but she has to recognize that other people have a right to their land and that there is a desperate need for housing and a variety of housing types in this region- especially in the city. The best thing the… Read more »

Last edited 26 days ago by Hunter Wilson
Quenn Fonchey
Quenn Fonchey
26 days ago
Reply to  Hunter Wilson

If they are “both modest sized projects that fit into the neighborhood” then why is everyone in the neighborhood opposed to building them and why do they require a special waiver of zoning laws to get built? If you are so in favor of abusing special permits to upend neighborhoods, why don’t you tell us where you live, and I’ll propose that a new WalMart be built next to you, along with a 40 story residential apartment building. After all, there is a “desperate need” for housing, and those people need a place to buy cheap stuff, so why not… Read more »

Angelo Pappis
Angelo Pappis
26 days ago
Reply to  Quenn Fonchey

The City will get between 9 and 10 times more tax revenue from these two projects, around 200k vs about 20k now. This will be approved, likely in a unanimous vote.

Hunter Wilson
Hunter Wilson
26 days ago
Reply to  Quenn Fonchey

I’m in Jackson Ward and would be ecstatic over the addition of a much needed department store downtown as would others. And residential – yes, would love to see more and more new construction of it down here. But we shouldn’t have to shoulder all of the additional housing units – all neighborhoods in the city need to open up and support a variety of housing types. But to take a Walmart + 40 stories of residential and compare that to two high quality projects on the small end with only 26 total housing units is not a real comparison… Read more »

Last edited 26 days ago by Hunter Wilson
Matt Faris
Matt Faris
4 hours ago
Reply to  Quenn Fonchey

Quenn, as you said, other’s have a right to “their” land. Just like the sellers and the buyers of this property as long as they can acquire the necessary permission. Your beef should be with City Hall, not with the current or future landowners. After all, it is/will be “their” land, as you so accurately stated. Not yours.

Allison Farmer
Allison Farmer
25 days ago
Reply to  Hunter Wilson

There is a desperate need for $900K+ houses in the city? Cry me a river…

Quenn Fonchey
Quenn Fonchey
25 days ago
Reply to  Allison Farmer

I burst out laughing when I read that and at Hunter’s appropriation of the phrase “exclusionary zoning” to try to justify some ridiculously overbuilt money grab. Are they really going to try to sell the idea that this project is necessary to alleviate the housing problems the poor face in Richmond? So sad when crass opportunists steal from people and try to justify it on the backs of real civil rights issues in this country. If this construction firm really believes there is a “housing crisis” in this country the best thing they can do is stop building this over… Read more »

Hunter Wilson
Hunter Wilson
25 days ago
Reply to  Quenn Fonchey

Supply and demand. If there is a demand for this type of housing then the market now presents more options. A buyer may purchase this unit and forgo a similar house in Monroe Ward or in Manchester or in gentrifying Church Hill. Absorbing high income here preserves urban supply in the old neighborhoods. That leaves a unit open in those locales and so on and so on. There isn’t much debate on the issue of lack of supply. Yes, these are high end but I was referring more to the precedent this product sets for the area in terms of… Read more »

Last edited 25 days ago by Hunter Wilson
Quenn Fonchey
Quenn Fonchey
25 days ago
Reply to  Hunter Wilson

I would be okay with a “product” (and the fact that you refer to it that way says everything about the way the developer regards the project) that elevated the neighborhood and the neighbors supported. I don’t support one that is being built on the backs of their money and sweat maintaining a good neighborhood. You don’t believe that building a bad project by breaking zoning codes here is somehow going to do good elsewhere. “Doing a bad thing to do a right thing” is an age old moral scam. Don’t try to sell this as some charity work, you… Read more »

Lucy Higgins
Lucy Higgins
8 days ago
Reply to  Quenn Fonchey

Shameful scam

Lucy Higgins
Lucy Higgins
8 days ago
Reply to  Quenn Fonchey

I couldn’t agree more !! Please stop this nonsense and go some where else for goodness sake . This is an historic area and zoning should respect the past and not allow such a wonderful area to be diminished by such a monstrous Mistake

Justin Ranson
Justin Ranson
5 days ago
Reply to  Lucy Higgins

The “ThIs Is An HiStOrIc ArEa” argument doesn’t work in a city like Richmond, where you can’t walk to a gas station without tripping over history. Appropriate growth is needed. More residential tax income is needed. The same people arguing about the “historic areas” are also complaining about school funding. This is how you get more school funding – by increasing the tax rolls. At least this time the proposed buildings are attractive.

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
27 days ago

One cannot keep Lloyd Poe in retirement! He’s just not “tired” yet.

Lucy Higgins
Lucy Higgins
8 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

Who is Lloyd Poe

karl hott
karl hott
26 days ago

The “Avenues” is the next Brooklyn.

Michael Dodson
Michael Dodson
26 days ago

Westview at Libbie does have similar projects off Maple Avenue behind the Joe’s Market but the garages being street facing….that is GROSS. This is a special use permit and they should be forced to make a better layout and design. I don’t want to see Wyndham homes from Short Pump in the city. And Sally has a valid point about the loss of affordable housing. This is a special use permit. They want to build, fine make them conform to existing zoning or require a set an affordable set aside. They can make 1-2 units in each complex smaller and… Read more »

Angelo Pappis
Angelo Pappis
26 days ago
Reply to  Michael Dodson

It’s a 500 yard dead end road. There’s no reason for anyone but residents to ever drive down that road and see the “gross” garages.

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
26 days ago
Reply to  Michael Dodson

it appears only two units have street facing garages, and it is a dead end street. This isnt a Walmart or a 40 story apartment building. The closest one of those would be in Manhattan! and imagine having to be near these new residents as they squeeze tomatoes at Libbie Market! (I bet that proprietor would be good with that.)

The hyperbole in these comments is ridiculous.

Brian Ezzelle
Brian Ezzelle
25 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

Better they buy their tomatoes at Joes Market than going to a farmers market that disturbs your neighborhood right?

Last edited 25 days ago by Brian Ezzelle
David Humphrey
David Humphrey
6 hours ago

It always humors me when people bring up the “the developer just wants to make money” argument, like it is somehow bad to want to make money. Especially in this neighborhood. I’m sure all those people that have expensive homes did charity work to get them right? The reality is the Tiber condos set the bar in terms of building size in this area and I’m sure all of Libbie for this stretch will continue to develop that way. Done correctly it could be a really great asset for the area.