Already busy in other parts of the city, an increasingly active residential infill developer is turning its attention to the Fan following a recent land purchase.
Last month Center Creek Homes purchased 1823-1827 W. Cary St., where it’s planning to build up to eight townhomes.
It paid $850,000 for the roughly quarter-acre plot made up of three parcels most recently assessed by the city at $375,000 combined.
Currently a grassy area, the property had once been part of the Eck family’s real estate portfolio sale that wrapped up earlier this year. Before the portfolio sale closed, the land was bought from the Ecks in late December by a group of One South Commercial brokers in a $2.9 million deal that also included nine townhomes nearby.
The brokers had been mulling their options when Center Creek’s Greg Shron and Dan Magder approached them. The duo leads Center Creek Homes, the real estate arm of D.C.-based private equity firm Center Creek Capital Group.
Center Creek has been ramping up its presence in Richmond in recent years, with infill projects all over the city including a five-home low-income development at 2017 R St., a trio of houses on Rennie Avenue in Northside, and plans for a pair of townhomes along Arthur Ashe Boulevard near the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
While the plan is to build townhouses on the West Cary land, Shron said they’re still figuring out exactly how many. He said they could build four units by right, but that they’re close enough to being able to fit five that they’re considering seeking a special-use permit.
“If you look at what the underlying zoning will allow, the lot width is six inches short of being able to fit five units. That’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes,” Shron said.
With an SUP already in mind, Shron, who has over 20 years’ experience as an architect, decided to draw up another option for the site — one that includes building two rows of four townhomes that share a rear wall. That proposal would bring eight new homes to the neighborhood.
“That might be what we end up going forward with,” Shron said.
Squeezing as much density as possible into infill projects such as this is part of Center Creek’s ethos, he said.
“One thing we like to do, for better or for worse, is intensify land use and challenge norms with density. If we look at ever-growing demand and dwindling supply of housing in Richmond’s neighborhoods, that has to be part of the answer,” Shron said. “We have to think outside the box about how we use land in the city and in the central locations everyone wants to be in.”
Added Magder: “Houses don’t always have to get bigger and bigger and bigger. People do like big houses, but in nice locations, you can build something a little more compact and maybe you can get more units in. We’ve been able to do that and do it in a way where the design makes it feel more roomy and more livable.”
Shron and Magder said they’ll likely make a decision on the West Cary site by mid-June and submit plans shortly after.
In the meantime, they’ve been busy wrapping up their aforementioned development in the East End, dubbed 20 & R for its location at 20th and R streets.
Four of the project’s five units have either sold or are under contract to qualified buyers earning less than 80 percent of the area median income. Magder said those sales were made possible with the help of a grant Center Creek received from the city’s Department of Housing and Community Development.