During a stint in residential development on the West Coast, Richmond native Alex Griffith kept an eye out for deals in his hometown market.
Now back in town, he’s jumped on a commercial property in Shockoe Slip.
Earlier this month, Griffith paid $3.25 million for 1208-1212 E. Cary St., a 26,000-square-foot collection of four buildings that houses restaurant Sam Miller’s on the ground floor and offices on the upper levels.
Griffith grew up in Richmond but has been running a residential development business in Oakland, California for the last decade.
He made his first investment in the Richmond market last year when he bought some residential units at 305-311 W. 13th St. in Manchester for $1.5 million.
When he and his family moved back to Richmond in January, he said, he was excited to add to his holdings with the East Cary buildings.
“It felt kind of like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get that kind of location with an anchor tenant like Sam Miller’s,” Griffith said, adding that the restaurant will continue on in its current space.
“After a tough year last year (Sam Miller’s) has come roaring back. That was a big part of the purchase, making sure they were interested in staying,” he said.
Griffith said while on the West Coast he kept up with the happenings in Richmond with the help of his brother Calvin, who’s a broker at CBRE.
Calvin, along with colleague Peyton Cox, represented Alex in the sale. The sellers, Sidney and Ann Richmon, were represented by One South Commercial’s Lory Markham, Tom Rosman and Ann Schweitzer Riley and Bantry Hill Ventures’ Mark Merhige. The properties were listed for sale in early 2020.
The four buildings were most recently assessed by the city at a combined $2.96 million.
Griffith said he’s planning some light renovations to the offices, which are at about 50 percent capacity. That occupancy rate isn’t scaring him off.
“I know a lot of people are not bullish on office coming out of COVID, but I’m a big believer that offices in those core locations are going to come back stronger than ever,” he said. “It may look a little bit different, but these kinds of opportunities don’t pop up that often.”
Eric Williford, also at CBRE, is handling leasing for the remaining office space.
With the Manchester and Shockoe Slip buildings already in his portfolio as buy-and-hold assets, Griffith said he’s continuing to look around those neighborhoods for other opportunities, as well as in Forest Hill.
“It just depends on where I feel like there’s opportunity in the market. I’m somewhat agnostic to the type of product,” he said. “We’re looking at a couple other … residential properties that are value-add opportunities and where you can freshen things up a little bit.”