Correction: The cost of the addition is projected at $7.7 million. An earlier version of this story reported a smaller figure that represented only one part of the project.
With a redesigned look and the approval of Richmond’s Commission of Architectural Review, a project that will add dozens of apartments above part of the Canal Crossing complex in the Shockoe area is getting underway.
Fulton Hill Properties, which developed and owns the two-building complex along 15th Street between Cary and Dock streets, has started work on a two-story addition atop the former tobacco warehouse that houses Buffalo Wild Wings.
The addition will house 44 studio apartments ranging from about 560 to 800 square feet. The units will include balconies and enclose a central courtyard with walkways and a glass atrium.
Redesigned since the project was first submitted to CAR in early 2019, the apartments are set to feature a more metallic-looking façade than the multi-colored appearance originally proposed. The change is one of several that were made in response to feedback from CAR over the course of three review sessions.
Where the previous façade appeared to work off the appearance of the taller Canal Crossing building at the corner of 15th and Dock, the approved façade more closely resembles the warehouse building below, with a rust red pop of color intended to match nearby brick buildings, according to presentations that were given to CAR.
The addition of apartments above established commercial buildings is not new to Fulton Hill. The firm, led by developer Margaret Freund, undertook a similar project when it added 12 apartments on top of the Glavé & Holmes Architecture building at 21st and Main streets, expanding Fulton Hills’ adjacent Haxall View apartments.
“It’s like free land if you can put apartments on it and you already own it,” Freund said Tuesday, adding that the project benefits from more than 300 parking spaces that Fulton Hill owns adjacent to the building.
“I think mixed-use is really beneficial when you have parking, because you have daytime and nighttime parkers,” she said.
Freund put the project cost at $7.7 million. A building permit lists the contractor as DCMC Consulting LLC, an entity registered to Michael Allshouse Sr., Fulton Hill’s vice president of construction.
Poole & Poole Architecture designed the addition. Speight Marshall Francis is the structural engineer, and ONeil Engineering Services is handling mechanical, electrical and plumbing work. Roth Jackson attorney Jennifer Mullen represented Fulton Hill in its requests to CAR.
According to meeting minutes, CAR’s members remained divided over the project’s design, ultimately voting 4-2 to approve the project with conditions such as simplified materials on the exterior. Some commissioners repeated requests for a greater setback from the existing building, but Freund told the commission that doing so would take away from the central courtyard amenity.
The project will include an 1,100-square-foot clubroom and 860-square-foot fitness room, along with the apartments, which will be split with 22 units on each floor, plans show. Freund said the construction will include a rooftop meeting space and two outdoor meeting rooms for Canal Crossing’s office tenants, who would also have access to the fitness room.
Describing the apartments as “workforce housing,” Freund said rents would be determined closer to the project’s completion, which she anticipates within 12 months.
“Rents around there have already surpassed what I modeled them at before COVID,” Freund said. “They’ll fit the parameters of workforce housing, because there’s not that many of them. They’re not big units. I think they will provide some good workforce housing.”
Freund also noted the site’s proximity to the Pulse rapid-transit bus line, the train lines through Main Street Station, and the canal walk. The site is also adjacent to the Virginia Capital Trail.
Freund developed Canal Crossing in 2002, rehabbing the two-story former warehouse and connecting it via an atrium to the neighboring five-story building, which dates back to 1916 and was one of several buildings formerly owned by Philip Morris.
The apartments addition is the latest project for Fulton Hill, which in recent years wrapped up its $40 million Artisan Hill development. In addition to Canal Crossing and Haxall View, Freund’s historic rehabs over three decades in the city include the Bottoms Up Pizza building, the former Flood Zone/Have a Nice Day Café building, the Lava Lofts apartments and the Lady Byrd Hat building.
Meanwhile, Freund, who now resides at Artisan Hill and also keeps a home in Colorado, recently sold her longtime residence overlooking Libby Hill Park. The $1.4 million sale tied for fifth place among the region’s priciest residential real estate sales in February.