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.
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
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’
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.
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.