A Thalhimer Realty Partners-owned parking lot downtown could be the site of what would be one of the tallest new construction projects in the city in recent years.
Pinecrest, a Chicago-based developer specializing in student housing, has applied for a special-use permit to construct a 15-story apartment tower at 321 W. Grace St. in the Monroe Ward neighborhood.
The roughly half-acre site is currently a surface parking lot owned by Thalhimer, which bought it in early 2019 as part of a $23.5 million deal that included the nearby Towers on Franklin apartments.
Pinecrest CEO Tyler Perlmutter said the Grace Street site and Richmond in general fit the bill of what they look for in prospective markets.
“We’ve been targeting markets where we see very solid enrollment, and where universities continue to invest in their future whether it’s through housing or other academic expenditures,” Perlmutter said.
He added that Pinecrest also was drawn to Monroe Ward and its abundance of surface lots in particular because of the city’s previously stated desire to develop those lots for added density.
Perlmutter declined to comment on whether the firm has the land under contract, and said the project cost has not yet been determined.
The 253,000-square-foot tower would feature about 171 apartment units, with a mix of four-, three, or two-bedrooms. Perlmutter said the rents would be comparable to other nearby new student housing projects.
The project would also include 67 parking spaces across two levels of podium structured parking and a 4,100-square-foot space that could be used for retail or amenities.
Hickok Cole is listed as the project’s architect and Preston Lloyd of Williams Mullen is Pinecrest’s counsel in the SUP process.
The land is zoned B-4 Central Business District, which doesn’t have a maximum height restriction but does restrict whether a part of a building can “penetrate an inclined plane originating at the centerline of each abutting street.” If granted, Pinecrest’s SUP would provide relief from that restriction.
Perlmutter said they hope to get the appropriate city approvals by the end of the year.
Pinecrest has completed five such buildings near the likes of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Boise State University and the University of Pittsburgh. And it has its eye out for other Virginia cities anchored by big colleges.
“We’re interested in other universities throughout Virginia,” Perlmutter said. “If the right opportunity came around in Richmond, we’d certainly be interested in looking at it.”