As it ups its workload across the city, a homebuilder known for lower-income housing is branching out into the higher-end market with a rare infill project along Arthur Ashe Boulevard.
Center Creek Homes, which has been increasing its local profile of late with new construction in Richmond’s Northside and West End, is looking to build two new attached homes on what’s now a parking lot at 415 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd., directly across from the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
The three-story townhomes would feature a recessed top floor with a rooftop terrace overlooking the boulevard. Each totaling about 3,500 square feet, the homes would have four bedrooms and 3½ bathrooms and are planned to be priced at $1.2 million.
Center Creek principals Dan Magder and Greg Shron said the project came to them via Dave Seibert, a Long & Foster agent who lists many of their homes and saw the parking lot property listed for sale. Center Creek purchased the 0.18-acre lot in October for $700,000. The lot was assessed by the city at $377,000.
The property has been used as parking for the nearby three-story medical office building at 425 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd., which is also transitioning to residential use after a sale last summer.
An LLC tied to Peter Megyeri of Historic Richmond Renovations and Mark Kittrell, who has converted other buildings in the area, bought the office building and parking lot for $1.4 million in August. It quickly turned around and sold the parking portion to Center Creek two months later.
A zoning confirmation letter filed with the city describes a conversion of the building to seven residential units. Shron said the project would require less parking than the medical office use, freeing up the bulk of the parking lot for development.
“We jumped all over it,” Shron said of the parking lot, noting the scarcity of developable properties along that stretch of the boulevard. “The views out the front, across the street to the museum campus, are unmatchable.”
Shron, an architect and the company’s COO, said the project is designed to be in keeping with the architecture and scale of surrounding buildings, while also bringing something new to the neighborhood.
“The site is obviously unique. You do not come across a site like that very often,” he said. “It sits among a lot of very grand buildings with very noteworthy architecture, so the key on that site — like any site, maybe a little bit more challenging here — is to do something that feels at one with the surrounding context.”
Designed by Richmond architect Chris Wolf, the building would feature brick and HardiePlank siding on the exterior and an open floorplan on the first floor with living and dining rooms separated by the kitchen. Bedrooms would fill the top two floors, with a top-floor loft that could be used as a game room or additional bedroom.
Center Creek’s plans went before the city’s Commission of Architectural Review in December. Shron said the design would be reworked based on feedback received.
“It’s a marquee project for us,” said Magder, Center Creek’s CEO and a childhood friend of Shron. The pair launched the company in 2018 and has since built a sizable portfolio in Richmond, with about 80 homes sold so far and another 80 or so in various stages of development.
Backed by Magder’s real estate-focused private equity firm Center Creek Capital Group in Washington, D.C., Center Creek Homes started off locally focused on lower-income homes in the East End and Northside. Its earlier work included its five-home 20 & R project that’s now under construction, and a home it’s slated to build for local housing nonprofit Urban Hope.
It’s also been buying up homes in Richmond’s West End, including in the in-demand Libbie-and-Grove area, where it’s replaced older homes with larger new-construction, building those by-right, meaning within what’s allowed under existing zoning.
Another project in the Northside is fitting three new homes on a sizable residential lot at Chamberlayne and Rennie avenues. The previously half-acre lot fronting Chamberlayne was subdivided to create three smaller rear lots with the new homes fronting Rennie.
Center Creek had purchased the larger Chamberlayne lot in 2019 for about $375,000 and sold the house on it last year for $309,000. The under-construction homes, at about 2,200 square feet with three bedrooms and three bathrooms, are being priced at just under $500,000.
While its Arthur Ashe Boulevard project and recent West End and Northside output are miles away from its previous work in terms of price points, Magder described them as a natural progression for the company as it expands in Richmond.
“Our bread-and-butter is still doing these entry-level and move-up homes, in Church Hill and Northside and Jackson Ward, and we saw an opportunity to do some work in the near West End,” Magder said.
“As we’re building out Center Creek Homes’ portfolio, we really like the fact that we have this diversity: a project like this (Arthur Ashe) in a prominent location, homes that empty-nesters and young families want to move into at Libbie and Grove, and we’re still doing the entry-level affordable and some deeply affordable houses in Jackson Ward and Church Hill. There are people of all sorts who want products of all sorts.”