26 condos planned for office building site on Libbie Avenue

This nearly century-old, 3,700-square-foot building and its parking lot are slated to be razed and redeveloped into 26 condos. (Jonathan Spiers photo)

An influx of multifamily housing in the Libbie-and-Grove area shows no signs of slowing down, as a medical office building there is being eyed for a condominium development nearly twice the size of the nearby Tiber condos.

A permit request filed with the city last week shows plans for a 26-unit development that would replace the two-story building and parking lot at 417-419 Libbie Ave., currently home to Vascular Surgery Associates’ West End office.

The nearly century-old building would be razed to make way for a three- and four-story structure that would fill the ¾-acre site. The building would feature varying facades along Libbie and house the bulk of the condos across three floors above a partially below-grade parking garage.

Two additional units would make up the fourth floor, which would be set back from the street with rooftop terraces overlooking Libbie. A community rooftop space for all homeowners also would be provided.

Behind the project is Urban Generation Living, a New York-based developer that was involved in the condo conversion of the former One Monument Avenue complex on Stuart Circle.

The special-use permit request for the Libbie project was filed by UGL Management, a Glen Allen-based LLC that lists Stuart Cantor as a contact. Cantor is president of TitleWorks of Virginia, which shares a building with the LLC’s office address.

Cantor has been in the news lately as one of two local businessmen in the crosshairs of the trustee overseeing the bankruptcy case for Live Well Financial, the former Chesterfield mortgage company owned by Michael Hild. Cantor was one of Live Well’s earlier board members.

Conceptual elevations show the condo building with varying facades along Libbie Avenue. (Images courtesy of the City of Richmond)

Also involved in the project is Bruce Tyler, a principal at Baskervill and a former Richmond councilman and mayoral candidate. Tyler is representing UGL Management in its request and is part of the Baskervill team behind the project’s design. HG Design Studio is the civil engineer and landscape architect.

Tyler, who responded to a call to Cantor, said the project came about from the Libbie property being listed for sale, with Colliers’ John Carpin, Garrison Gore, Malcolm Randolph and Charles Wentworth handling the listing. He said UGL has a contract on the property that’s contingent on the permit getting approved.

Tyler said the project follows in the footsteps of another multifamily development recently approved along the corridor: Eagle Construction of VA’s plan for 14 townhomes at 509 and 511 Libbie Ave.

That site is across the street from The Tiber, a 14-unit condo building with a detached cottage unit that – along with last year’s update of the city’s master plan – got the multifamily ball rolling in the area. Condos also have sprouted with several infill developments and the mixed-use Westhampton on Grove development.

“We wanted to create something that we felt would really showcase what could be done with a condominium project in that community, in a way that would continue to create a more village-type concept,” Tyler said Monday. “With the exception of the Westhampton Theater project, so far, most of the projects that have been in this area have had a single façade, which creates a more suburban-type feel.”

“We wanted to move away from that, similar to what was happening with the last special-use permit project,” he said, referring to the Eagle townhomes. “We felt like we could do that with this condominium project, where we’re creating a point of destination that is unique, but at the same time contributes to the community’s look.”

The building’s configuration along Libbie Avenue, with eight condos filling each of the three main floors.

Appearing more like downtown rowhomes, the condo building would feature multiple facades with materials including brick, HardiePlank siding, wood-like trim and synthetic slate shingle roofs.

Described as “upscale,” the condos would range from two to three bedrooms and 1,900 to 3,700 square feet in size. Eight units would fill each of the three main floors, with two elevators providing access for all units to the parking garage, which would provide two spaces per unit.

The garage would be accessed off Libbie via a ramp and would include storage units and a trash disposal room.

Tyler said prices for the condos have not been set, and he said a development cost had not been shared. He said the team had been in talks with a general contractor but had not selected one yet.

Tyler said community meetings had yet to be held on the project but that the plans have been discussed with a committee of the Westhampton Citizens Association and Andreas Addison, the area’s city councilman.

The property is owned by Libbie Associates LLC, which acquired it in 2014, according to property records. The city most recently assessed the property at $2 million.

The project adds to a wave of investment in the area that has held steady in recent years and months. Around the corner on Grove, a special-use permit was awarded last month for a new two-story office building at 5605 Grove Ave.

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Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
2 months ago

Bruce Tyler deserves some accolades for this design. In this amateur architect’s opinion, that’s going to be a very attractive building. (I’m sure some other BizSense amateur architects will disagree!) This corridor is being transformed from Grove to Patterson.

Congrats to the Colliers guys for the sale. Stuart and Raphael did an excellent job with One Monument and I know they’ve done their homework before proceeding here. These two guys are tough buyers!

charles Frankenhoff
charles Frankenhoff
2 months ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

I think the facade looks nice in the concept.

charles Frankenhoff
charles Frankenhoff
2 months ago

This is a good location for this project, right up in the commercial area. And the buildings that are already there will be no loss.

I like the fact the have parking in the back a lot. It will really improve the streetscape

David Humphrey
David Humphrey
2 months ago

Going forward it will be important to have some commercial/office component to these to replace what is going away. There are not many empty offices along this stretch and that cannot be said for much of the metro area. It is a good market for small offices.

Michael Dodson
Michael Dodson
2 months ago

A semi below grade garage on a two lane road that has a road with some height (would not call it a hill more a fill mound) is going to cause traffic viewing concerns. Coming up that ramp to the sidewalk, not sure you will be able to have a good view to pull out onto Libbie. I also will be interested in neighborhood input which they have not sought. The article mentions village-type development with a downtown design; this the historic early American street car suburb. Not sure the residents are looking for downtown view out their rear bedroom… Read more »

Lee Gaskins
Lee Gaskins
2 months ago

Part of the charm of the Libbie-Grove corridor is the mixed used, the variety of architecture and the varying ages of the structures. This structure, although beautiful in the rendering, looks like it belongs elsewhere. I’m with Mr. Dodson…where was the community input? The infill development in Henrico and Richmond is growing at a faster pace than most residents would like.

charles Frankenhoff
charles Frankenhoff
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee Gaskins

people who want to live in the country should live in the country. Not try and make the city into a poor imitation of short pump.

That’s a commercial district, and I’d argue this will fit in fine. Clearly the people who are risking a great deal of their money think their customers think it will fit in.

Craig Davis
Craig Davis
2 months ago

that sounds great … except for the fact that people (myself included) have lived in that area – in the city – for decades. Why should folks be the ones that need to move when they like where they live and the character of their neighborhood which has remained near constant. If Bruce Tyler surveyed his neighbors, I doubt seriously he’d find significant support for this.

charles Frankenhoff
charles Frankenhoff
2 months ago
Reply to  Craig Davis

of course not. That neighborhood is famous for supporting nothing. That’s why Westhampton School turned out to be such a mess.

Fear of change is not exactly something that elevates opinions.

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
2 months ago

Craig Davis, now you know how the Native Americans felt when Manifest destiny was enacted.

Well actually, not true, you get to keep your land (for now).

Developers, investors and the local government they fully fund do no care at all for the quality of living in any given area other than how much they can monetize it.,

Welcome to the party..