Project Snapshot: $26M apartment tower ascends at Broad and Lombardy

Ascend Apartments going up in Richmond

The Ascend RVA building at Broad and Lombardy streets rises 12 stories above the intersection, the limit allowed under the city’s TOD-1 zoning. (Photos by Jonathan Spiers)

Correction: Rental rates for the apartments range from $1,300 to $3,400 a month, according to Ascend RVA’s website, which presents the rents per bed, not per unit. The original story did not reflect the per-bed calculations. 

What once was a gas station at Broad and Lombardy streets is now on track to become home to 168 apartments in a 12-story tower taking shape near VCU.

A new addition to the city skyline west of downtown, the $26 million building at the intersection’s northwest corner is on schedule for completion this August, wrapping up construction that got underway last spring.

Called Ascend RVA, the market-rate apartments are the first in Richmond for The Opus Group, a development firm out of Minnesota. Totaling 241,000 square feet, the U-shaped building fills the roughly 0.3-acre site of the former Sunoco gas station at 1600 W. Broad St., beside the Lowe’s Home Improvement store and across Lombardy from Foot Locker.

The building fills a lot beside the Lowe’s Home Improvement store that previously housed a gas station and convenience store.

In the works since mid-2019, the project is the first along that stretch of Broad to take full advantage of the 12-story heights allowed under the city’s TOD-1 Transit-Oriented Nodal zoning district, which was extended to the corridor last year. The project was proposed and approved a year before that, with the understanding that the zoning was on its way as called for in the city’s Pulse Corridor Plan.

Ranging from studio units to four-bedroom floorplans, the apartments will be furnished and range in size from about 450 to 1,500 square feet, with rents from $1,300 to $3,400 a month, according to the building’s website.

The site markets the units as “student living,” noting their proximity to VCU, but Opus VP Ben Angelo said the apartments will be open to all renters.

A rendering of the 12-story, 168-unit apartment building. (BizSense file images)

“While students are our primary target demographic for marketing and leasing … we welcome non-students to enjoy the experience of living at Ascend RVA as well,” Angelo said. “We feel confident that the product we deliver has a level of luxury and sophistication that appeals to a broader demographic beyond just students.”

Located on the GRTC Pulse rapid transit bus line, the building will feature an outdoor terrace with a pool overlooking Broad, and a second-floor indoor-outdoor area above ground-floor retail space totaling 3,500 square feet.

Other amenities include a fitness center and lounge areas, and 82 parking spaces are planned in a one-level basement garage and at street level.

The corner facing the intersection will include a street-level storefront.

Opus designed the apartments and the building, which will feature a façade consisting primarily of metal, aluminum and glass. The building’s street-level base will feature concrete and brick.

Alabama-based Rabren General Contractors is the builder on the project, and Draper Aden Associates is handling engineering services. Opus also worked with Richmond-based Markham Planning and Roth Jackson attorney Andy Condlin to secure project approvals.

Opus purchased the site for $2.9 million in October 2020. A city permit put the building’s construction cost at $26.1 million.

The building is just up the street from another new-construction project taking shape along Lombardy. A block north, Stanley Martin Homes has started work on Carver Square, a 90-unit condo complex across from Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School.

Ascend Apartments going up in Richmond

The Ascend RVA building at Broad and Lombardy streets rises 12 stories above the intersection, the limit allowed under the city’s TOD-1 zoning. (Photos by Jonathan Spiers)

Correction: Rental rates for the apartments range from $1,300 to $3,400 a month, according to Ascend RVA’s website, which presents the rents per bed, not per unit. The original story did not reflect the per-bed calculations. 

What once was a gas station at Broad and Lombardy streets is now on track to become home to 168 apartments in a 12-story tower taking shape near VCU.

A new addition to the city skyline west of downtown, the $26 million building at the intersection’s northwest corner is on schedule for completion this August, wrapping up construction that got underway last spring.

Called Ascend RVA, the market-rate apartments are the first in Richmond for The Opus Group, a development firm out of Minnesota. Totaling 241,000 square feet, the U-shaped building fills the roughly 0.3-acre site of the former Sunoco gas station at 1600 W. Broad St., beside the Lowe’s Home Improvement store and across Lombardy from Foot Locker.

The building fills a lot beside the Lowe’s Home Improvement store that previously housed a gas station and convenience store.

In the works since mid-2019, the project is the first along that stretch of Broad to take full advantage of the 12-story heights allowed under the city’s TOD-1 Transit-Oriented Nodal zoning district, which was extended to the corridor last year. The project was proposed and approved a year before that, with the understanding that the zoning was on its way as called for in the city’s Pulse Corridor Plan.

Ranging from studio units to four-bedroom floorplans, the apartments will be furnished and range in size from about 450 to 1,500 square feet, with rents from $1,300 to $3,400 a month, according to the building’s website.

The site markets the units as “student living,” noting their proximity to VCU, but Opus VP Ben Angelo said the apartments will be open to all renters.

A rendering of the 12-story, 168-unit apartment building. (BizSense file images)

“While students are our primary target demographic for marketing and leasing … we welcome non-students to enjoy the experience of living at Ascend RVA as well,” Angelo said. “We feel confident that the product we deliver has a level of luxury and sophistication that appeals to a broader demographic beyond just students.”

Located on the GRTC Pulse rapid transit bus line, the building will feature an outdoor terrace with a pool overlooking Broad, and a second-floor indoor-outdoor area above ground-floor retail space totaling 3,500 square feet.

Other amenities include a fitness center and lounge areas, and 82 parking spaces are planned in a one-level basement garage and at street level.

The corner facing the intersection will include a street-level storefront.

Opus designed the apartments and the building, which will feature a façade consisting primarily of metal, aluminum and glass. The building’s street-level base will feature concrete and brick.

Alabama-based Rabren General Contractors is the builder on the project, and Draper Aden Associates is handling engineering services. Opus also worked with Richmond-based Markham Planning and Roth Jackson attorney Andy Condlin to secure project approvals.

Opus purchased the site for $2.9 million in October 2020. A city permit put the building’s construction cost at $26.1 million.

The building is just up the street from another new-construction project taking shape along Lombardy. A block north, Stanley Martin Homes has started work on Carver Square, a 90-unit condo complex across from Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School.

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Brett Themore
Brett Themore
4 months ago

That Dollar tree is long gone… about a year or more. It’s now a foot locker.

Steve Leibovic
Steve Leibovic
4 months ago

Thanks for the information. Amazing to think it was just a gas station. Your rent prices are way off. Their website lists the rent PER ROOM, so a 4BR rent is $3336 to $3396; 3BR rent is $2847, 2BR rent is $1938 to $1988, 1BR rent is $1560 to $1600 and studio rent is $1324. These are apparently furnished prices.

kay christensen
kay christensen
4 months ago

It’ll be great to live in Lowe’s parking lot…

Carl Schwendeman
Carl Schwendeman
3 months ago

I think in the next 5 years they are going to rip up that building and possibly the one story tall Lowes and put in more of these type of buildings. That vast Lowes Parking lot is a blank sheet of paper considering they legalized ten story plus buildings in this part of town.

Eric Clark
Eric Clark
4 months ago

High price point for an apartment complex focusing primarily on student population.

Lee Gaskins
Lee Gaskins
4 months ago

Someone help us understand how a one BR at $1324 us focused on students.

jacqueline westfall
jacqueline westfall
4 months ago
Reply to  Lee Gaskins

I wonder how they managed to get zoning for only 82 parking places in an apt building with such high density. Certainly it will impact Lower Fan restricted parking. Did the FDA weigh in on this?

Jerome Legions
Jerome Legions
3 months ago

Yes the FDA did weigh in along with other civic associations. However, this project in not in the 2nd district where FDA is located. There was opposition but Council voted to approve the project’s SUP.

TOD 1 building parking limits is not a 1 space per unit. The parking requirements are pretty relaxed because the goal is tenants will walk, take mass transit, bike or Uber.

My money is the tenants will park in Lowes parking instead of paying an additional fee to rent a parking space.

Shena Crittendon
Shena Crittendon
3 months ago

An entire article on a new apartment complex at the corner of Broad and Lombardy (“near VCU”) aimed at students, and not ONE mention of the university that is actually located on Lombardy Street! Virginia Union actually has students too!