Downtown YMCA redevelopment plan calls for 266 apartments in 3 buildings

Richmond YMCA redevelopment would include hundreds of apartments

A rendering of the six-story apartment building planned as part of the downtown YMCA redevelopment as it would appear from Grace Street facing east. (Courtesy City of Richmond)

As preservationists rally around the Second Baptist Church building that’s facing a wrecking ball across the street, initial plans for a multi-phased, mixed-use development involving the nearby YMCA building are coming into view.

The group of developers that’s working with the Y on the project is planning 266 market-rate apartments between a rehab of the nonprofit’s existing four-story structure at 2 W. Franklin St. and two new buildings that would replace parking lots behind it.

One of those new buildings, planned for the lot at the corner of Grace and Foushee streets, would rise 11 stories and total 160 units, project architect Walter Parks said.

The other building, planned for the corner of Grace and Adams Street, would be six stories high and total 70 units, according to a development plan filed with the city last week.

The parking lot at Grace and Adams, where the six-story building is planned. (Jonathan Spiers photo)

The overall project would kick off this summer with the Y building rehab, which would add 36 apartments across the building’s top three floors, Parks said. The Y branch and gym would remain on the first floor, while the upper-floor offices that have served as the YMCA of Greater Richmond’s home base would be relocated.

George Emerson, who is heading up the project with frequent collaborator Phil Roper and fellow developers Tom Papa and Dennis Lynch, said the rehab would get the project going and be followed by the six-story building at Adams and Grace.

“We’re hoping we’re going to start rehabbing the Y in June or July, and then we’ll start this building by the end of the year,” he said.

Emerson said those two efforts would make up the project’s first phase, while the 11-story apartment building planned at Foushee and Grace wouldn’t get underway for a couple years. Plans for that building have yet to be filed with the city.

The building at Franklin and Foushee streets has housed the downtown YMCA since 1942. (BizSense file)

The six-story building at Adams and Grace would consist of 60 one-bedroom units and 10 two-bedrooms, according to the filed plans. The 79,000-square-foot building would include a 1,600-square-foot ground-floor commercial space fronting Grace, and ground-level and underground structured parking totaling 44 spaces.

Access to the parking would be off an alley that connects with Adams. Bicycle parking and storage is also planned.

Walter Parks Architects is designing the building and is the architect on the rest of the project. Silvercore is handling engineering work, and Lory Markham with Markham Planning submitted the development plan on behalf of the Y, which owns the properties involved.

Parks said the apartments in the Y building would include one-, two- and three-bedroom floorplans. He said designs for the 11-story building remain in the works but, like the six-story building, would include structured parking with an underground level.

The developers are under contract to purchase the properties, which fill the bulk of the city block that includes the main branch. The 10-parcel assemblage, totaling 2.2 acres, is assessed collectively at about $10.3 million, city property records show.

The parking lot at Grace and Foushee, behind the downtown YMCA building, is planned to house an 11-story apartment building. (BizSense file)

An additional Y-owned parking lot across Franklin Street is included in the deal. Parks said plans for that site are still in development.

That parking lot is adjacent to the Second Baptist Church building, a century-old structure that is slated for demolition by the owner of the next-door Jefferson Hotel. A recent decision by the city to allow the demolition has prompted outrage from preservationists who want the building saved.

Emerson said Monday he has not been in talks with the hotel’s owner about the church building site, which is part of the larger Jefferson assemblage.

The 80-year-old Y building opened in 1942 and has served as home base for the nonprofit that dates back to 1854. The rehab is planned to include a renovation of some of the Y’s facilities, including new locker rooms and group exercise studios, and improvements to wellness rooms and weight rooms.

Emerson and Roper’s other developments together include Moore’s Lake in Chester and the Vue at Westchester Commons apartments. Emerson and Lynch, an executive with KBS, worked together on a mixed-use conversion of a former office building at 6 N. Sixth St. Lynch and Papa are also investors in the Y project.

Richmond YMCA redevelopment would include hundreds of apartments

A rendering of the six-story apartment building planned as part of the downtown YMCA redevelopment as it would appear from Grace Street facing east. (Courtesy City of Richmond)

As preservationists rally around the Second Baptist Church building that’s facing a wrecking ball across the street, initial plans for a multi-phased, mixed-use development involving the nearby YMCA building are coming into view.

The group of developers that’s working with the Y on the project is planning 266 market-rate apartments between a rehab of the nonprofit’s existing four-story structure at 2 W. Franklin St. and two new buildings that would replace parking lots behind it.

One of those new buildings, planned for the lot at the corner of Grace and Foushee streets, would rise 11 stories and total 160 units, project architect Walter Parks said.

The other building, planned for the corner of Grace and Adams Street, would be six stories high and total 70 units, according to a development plan filed with the city last week.

The parking lot at Grace and Adams, where the six-story building is planned. (Jonathan Spiers photo)

The overall project would kick off this summer with the Y building rehab, which would add 36 apartments across the building’s top three floors, Parks said. The Y branch and gym would remain on the first floor, while the upper-floor offices that have served as the YMCA of Greater Richmond’s home base would be relocated.

George Emerson, who is heading up the project with frequent collaborator Phil Roper and fellow developers Tom Papa and Dennis Lynch, said the rehab would get the project going and be followed by the six-story building at Adams and Grace.

“We’re hoping we’re going to start rehabbing the Y in June or July, and then we’ll start this building by the end of the year,” he said.

Emerson said those two efforts would make up the project’s first phase, while the 11-story apartment building planned at Foushee and Grace wouldn’t get underway for a couple years. Plans for that building have yet to be filed with the city.

The building at Franklin and Foushee streets has housed the downtown YMCA since 1942. (BizSense file)

The six-story building at Adams and Grace would consist of 60 one-bedroom units and 10 two-bedrooms, according to the filed plans. The 79,000-square-foot building would include a 1,600-square-foot ground-floor commercial space fronting Grace, and ground-level and underground structured parking totaling 44 spaces.

Access to the parking would be off an alley that connects with Adams. Bicycle parking and storage is also planned.

Walter Parks Architects is designing the building and is the architect on the rest of the project. Silvercore is handling engineering work, and Lory Markham with Markham Planning submitted the development plan on behalf of the Y, which owns the properties involved.

Parks said the apartments in the Y building would include one-, two- and three-bedroom floorplans. He said designs for the 11-story building remain in the works but, like the six-story building, would include structured parking with an underground level.

The developers are under contract to purchase the properties, which fill the bulk of the city block that includes the main branch. The 10-parcel assemblage, totaling 2.2 acres, is assessed collectively at about $10.3 million, city property records show.

The parking lot at Grace and Foushee, behind the downtown YMCA building, is planned to house an 11-story apartment building. (BizSense file)

An additional Y-owned parking lot across Franklin Street is included in the deal. Parks said plans for that site are still in development.

That parking lot is adjacent to the Second Baptist Church building, a century-old structure that is slated for demolition by the owner of the next-door Jefferson Hotel. A recent decision by the city to allow the demolition has prompted outrage from preservationists who want the building saved.

Emerson said Monday he has not been in talks with the hotel’s owner about the church building site, which is part of the larger Jefferson assemblage.

The 80-year-old Y building opened in 1942 and has served as home base for the nonprofit that dates back to 1854. The rehab is planned to include a renovation of some of the Y’s facilities, including new locker rooms and group exercise studios, and improvements to wellness rooms and weight rooms.

Emerson and Roper’s other developments together include Moore’s Lake in Chester and the Vue at Westchester Commons apartments. Emerson and Lynch, an executive with KBS, worked together on a mixed-use conversion of a former office building at 6 N. Sixth St. Lynch and Papa are also investors in the Y project.

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Zach Thomas
Zach Thomas
3 months ago

Wow it’s…it’s…beautiful!

Is there a point to hiring an architect to design stuff like this? Is that legally required? This is like hiring someone to write a song and they just press the Demo button on a keyboard.

Chuck Jacobs
Chuck Jacobs
3 months ago
Reply to  Zach Thomas

I didn’t even have to read the article to know who the architect was. Downtown Richmond is becoming the Ryan Homes version of urban development.

Michele vento
Michele vento
3 months ago

And then no parking for the y patrons. This will push out those folks from using the facilities they have for years. Agreed that the design is so plain and unattractive. Can’t any of these firms take some tips from actual beautiful architecture in the area?

Michael Dodson
Michael Dodson
3 months ago

I am assuming the Grace and Adams proposed building will NOT cross the alley toward W Franklin. Both the Franklin and Adams parking area and the entire YMCA owned lot from Franklin to Main next to Foushee are located in the a City Old and Historic District.