Mercer Street buys Star Lofts apartment building in Petersburg for $7.3M

The 99-year-old building was renovated into apartments in 2013. (Mike Platania photos)

A firm that’s recently been bullish on Manchester has gone back to Petersburg for its latest local acquisition.

New York-based Mercer Street Partners last month acquired the Star Lofts, a 66-unit apartment building at 16 S. Market St., for $7.3 million.

The sale marks the highest per-door deal Petersburg’s seen in recent years, fetching over $110,000 per door. The deal closed Jan. 19.

Mercer Street has poured more than $50 million into Richmond’s real estate market over the last several years. In 2017, it bought Petersburg’s Perry Street Lofts and then headed north to Manchester, buying the Hopper Lofts for $14 million in 2018, the South Bank apartments for $23 million a year later, and the Bainbridge Street apartments in 2019.

Joe LeVine (Courtesy of LinkedIn)

Mercer Street Managing Partner Joe LeVine said in an email that they’re big believers in Petersburg’s housing market.

“Star Lofts has a unique historic factory loft aesthetic that we love with great amenity spaces for the residents and a short walk to the new transportation center and Petersburg Library,” LeVine said.

Once a Star Tobacco cigarette factory, the 99-year-old building was bought by developer Steve Leibovic for $625,000 in 2009. A few years later he poured $8.5 million into it, with help from historic tax credits, to renovate it into apartments. The four-story, 51,000-square-foot building was most recently assessed by the city at $6.35 million.

Leibovic, who was the seller in the deal, was represented by Colliers International’s Garrison Gore, Charles Wentworth, George Hankins and Victoria Pickett.

LeVine said Mercer Street is planning to upgrade some of the Star Lofts’ amenities, which include a lounge, gym and pool.

The sale is the largest per-door deal Petersburg’s seen in recent years.

Included in the sale was an adjacent half-acre site, which may be developed in the future.

“At this moment, we don’t have definitive plans for the excess land though our goal is to continue to explore options which add value to the community and/or our residents,” LeVine said.

Mercer Street may not be done yet in Petersburg, either. LeVine said they hope to have another deal announced in the city in the near future.

Also counted in Mercer Street’s holdings is an investment in Common House, the Charlottesville-based social club that recently opened in Richmond’s Arts District. LeVine said Mercer Street owns a stake in both Common House’s business and its Richmond real estate at 305 W. Broad St.

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