Grove Avenue infill to add townhomes across from Mary Munford Elementary

A rendering of the townhomes planned to replace a house across from Mary Munford Elementary School. (Courtesy rendering)

A house-turned-office on Grove Avenue across from Mary Munford Elementary School is about to give way to seven modern-style townhomes.

Construction is slated to start this summer on the infill development led by Chip Tompkins and Trib Sutton, who secured approval from the city earlier this year to replace the 1950s-era house at 4508 Grove Ave. with seven three-level townhomes.

Four of the 2,100-square-foot units will front Grove, while the other three will be oriented toward a rear alley.

Chip Tompkins

Tompkins, who had used the house as his office before selling his Virginia Lighting Associates business a couple years back, said the redevelopment option became obvious to him when the business’s new owners moved out last year.

“It kind of stared me in the face for eight years,” Tompkins said. “I came to this office that was surrounded by residential, and on that block, multifamily residential. It really was such an obvious choice.”

Tompkins, who’d owned the property since 2014 and rented the office out to the business’s new owners, said he ran the idea by Sutton, an acquaintance and an executive at Divaris Real Estate. He said Sutton liked the idea so much he signed on to the project.

Tompkins sold the property to an LLC registered to Sutton in November. The quarter-acre property sold for $420,000 and was assessed by the city at $350,000, records show. Tompkins’ LLC had purchased it for $245,000 in 2014.

The pair worked with Keith Stanley of engineering firm Sekiv Solutions, and with Will Payne of 510 Architects, to come up with the plans and designs for the project. UrbanCore Construction is signed on as the contractor.

Tompkins said a cost estimate for the project “is still a moving target,” and he declined to disclose prices for the units, which will be listed by Mahood Fonville and John Martin of Shaheen, Ruth, Martin & Fonville Real Estate.

“We want to bring a quality, custom type of product to the market, and price it accordingly for that neighborhood and the product that we plan to deliver,” Tompkins said.

This house at 4508 Grove Ave. is slated to be replaced with townhomes. (Jonathan Spiers photo)

“We’re sensitive to the architecture and the area, but we’re not bound to it,” he said. “We’re just trying to be as thoughtful in the design as we can in respecting the existing neighborhood, but bringing a product ultimately that we hope will elevate the overall area.”

Each unit will have two bedrooms and 2½ bathrooms. Top-floor living areas will open out to terraces overlooking the street or alley, and bedrooms will make up the second floor.

The ground floor will be a flex space that could be used as an office or additional bedroom, and each unit will have a single-car garage and a 350-pound-capacity dumbwaiter for lifting groceries and other items to the upper floors.

Tompkins said the neighborhood has been receptive to the project overall.

“Given the makeup of the block itself and the thought that we’ve put behind this, typically the big complaint, in my experience, has been parking,” he said. “The fact that we are building with a single-car garage probably alleviated a lot of that objection.”

Tompkins said construction is planned to start in July with a nine-month completion schedule.

The project adds to other infills popping up in the West End. Farther west, New York-based developer Urban Generation Living is planning 26 condos in place of an office building at 417-419 Libbie Ave. The City Council approved that project last week.

A rendering of the townhomes planned to replace a house across from Mary Munford Elementary School. (Courtesy rendering)

A house-turned-office on Grove Avenue across from Mary Munford Elementary School is about to give way to seven modern-style townhomes.

Construction is slated to start this summer on the infill development led by Chip Tompkins and Trib Sutton, who secured approval from the city earlier this year to replace the 1950s-era house at 4508 Grove Ave. with seven three-level townhomes.

Four of the 2,100-square-foot units will front Grove, while the other three will be oriented toward a rear alley.

Chip Tompkins

Tompkins, who had used the house as his office before selling his Virginia Lighting Associates business a couple years back, said the redevelopment option became obvious to him when the business’s new owners moved out last year.

“It kind of stared me in the face for eight years,” Tompkins said. “I came to this office that was surrounded by residential, and on that block, multifamily residential. It really was such an obvious choice.”

Tompkins, who’d owned the property since 2014 and rented the office out to the business’s new owners, said he ran the idea by Sutton, an acquaintance and an executive at Divaris Real Estate. He said Sutton liked the idea so much he signed on to the project.

Tompkins sold the property to an LLC registered to Sutton in November. The quarter-acre property sold for $420,000 and was assessed by the city at $350,000, records show. Tompkins’ LLC had purchased it for $245,000 in 2014.

The pair worked with Keith Stanley of engineering firm Sekiv Solutions, and with Will Payne of 510 Architects, to come up with the plans and designs for the project. UrbanCore Construction is signed on as the contractor.

Tompkins said a cost estimate for the project “is still a moving target,” and he declined to disclose prices for the units, which will be listed by Mahood Fonville and John Martin of Shaheen, Ruth, Martin & Fonville Real Estate.

“We want to bring a quality, custom type of product to the market, and price it accordingly for that neighborhood and the product that we plan to deliver,” Tompkins said.

This house at 4508 Grove Ave. is slated to be replaced with townhomes. (Jonathan Spiers photo)

“We’re sensitive to the architecture and the area, but we’re not bound to it,” he said. “We’re just trying to be as thoughtful in the design as we can in respecting the existing neighborhood, but bringing a product ultimately that we hope will elevate the overall area.”

Each unit will have two bedrooms and 2½ bathrooms. Top-floor living areas will open out to terraces overlooking the street or alley, and bedrooms will make up the second floor.

The ground floor will be a flex space that could be used as an office or additional bedroom, and each unit will have a single-car garage and a 350-pound-capacity dumbwaiter for lifting groceries and other items to the upper floors.

Tompkins said the neighborhood has been receptive to the project overall.

“Given the makeup of the block itself and the thought that we’ve put behind this, typically the big complaint, in my experience, has been parking,” he said. “The fact that we are building with a single-car garage probably alleviated a lot of that objection.”

Tompkins said construction is planned to start in July with a nine-month completion schedule.

The project adds to other infills popping up in the West End. Farther west, New York-based developer Urban Generation Living is planning 26 condos in place of an office building at 417-419 Libbie Ave. The City Council approved that project last week.

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Elizabeth Cogar
Elizabeth Cogar
2 months ago

“…“We’re just trying to be as thoughtful in the design as we can in respecting the existing neighborhood..”
That is just comical. I don’t believe there are any other brutalist buildings along Grove.

Michael P Morgan-Dodson
Michael P Morgan-Dodson
2 months ago

So true Elizabeth. And all for the infill especially that old home but who wants a front door that opens to a nasty, smell, gravel alley. 3 units will enter from the rear alley. Not sure that is even allowed without a special use permit but either way as someone whose sister lived at 4518 Grove Apts (that needs work) and who saw Dr May at 4418 Grove those rutted, smell gravel alleys aren’t what want to see when look out of your front door. Talk about lacking curb appeal.

Bill Kane
Bill Kane
2 months ago

Yes, that quote made me laugh out loud. This design is hideous and uninspired. Our unique selling proposition is significantly based on our historic housing stock. I’m all for development, but lately most have been devoid of character. We are slowly averaging out the local charm of Richmond and turning it into anywhere USA. Short term profits? Yes. Long term? Why come to live in Richmond if it looks like anywhere else?

J Sid DelCardayre
J Sid DelCardayre
2 months ago

How many Richmonders does it take to change a light bulb? Apparently about 10! One to change the bulb, and the rest to reminiss about the old bulb and lament about the hue of the new one. And it’s a sure bet that the same pack of ‘bulb lamenters’ will show up as ‘architecture experts’ when Biz Sense publishes a picture of almost ANY new building…..Always entertaining….

Nathaniel Walsh
Nathaniel Walsh
2 months ago

How many NOVAers does it take to change a light bulb? Ten. One to change the bulb, and the rest to dramatically drive up the area cost of living and displace longtime residents, all the while calling them names and making arrogant snarky comments.

Troy McClure
Troy McClure
2 months ago

How exactly would putting seven units where one dilapidated structure used to be raise the cost of living? More housing actually drives down the cost of living. Unless you are worried about “different” people moving in?

Carl Schwendeman
Carl Schwendeman
2 months ago

The building does remind me of a building from a 1960’s or 1970’s movie.

John Lindner
John Lindner
2 months ago

I’m a fan of modern, but not this design. Maybe it one of those things you just have to experience in person.

Lee Gaskins
Lee Gaskins
2 months ago
Reply to  John Lindner

Modern is one thing; plain ugly is another. This rendering is ugly. Period.

sara marie
sara marie
2 months ago

I can imagine these will be in high demand once they hit the market. best of luck to you and your team.

Marche Robinson
Marche Robinson
2 months ago

I Love The Idea How Do You Apply ? Lol … I Would Like to see more of them & the details are amazing love to see more ..

Carl Schwendeman
Carl Schwendeman
2 months ago

I’m glad they are adding housing density by replacing 1 unit with 7 to deal with the burning up housing market in Richmond. Wish San Fransico and other cities had the other views like this.

They should make it a extra story taller to make these new town homes four stories tall. I get tired of how everything is under three stories tall in Richmond.

The owner should try to offer the existing house up for free for a few months so someone can move it somewhere else.

Matt Faris
Matt Faris
2 months ago

Carl, who wants to climb all those stairs? Besides, I was under the impression that construction codes (structural, fire, etc.) change a great deal when going more than 3 stories, hence the usual limitations on costs.

Randall Hudgins
Randall Hudgins
2 months ago

While I can’t say this design is exciting me (maybe it’s the rendering?), I am excited by folks replacing nondescript derelict housing with modern designs, not to mention adding density. We need to bite the bullet and replace our old stock with new more often and stop pretending that row after row of Cape Cods represents the “character” of our city.

Diane Murray
Diane Murray
2 months ago

The design, while attractive, does NOT fit the location at all, and will stick out like a sore thumb. Hardly thoughtful. I also question the concept of units facing an alley. Who wants to look out over an alley?