Boarded-up Church Hill building to be replaced with mixed-use project

The former candy store and laundromat slated for a mixed-use conversion project is across Jefferson Avenue from Alamo BBQ. (Mike Platania photos)

After a few years off, Josh Bilder is ready to build again.

The local developer behind Sterling Bilder LLC is back for his latest project in Church Hill, this time planning to convert a vacant building at 2211 Jefferson Ave. into a mixed-use project.

Located at the intersection of East Clay Street and Jefferson Avenue, the project is in familiar territory for Bilder. Two of his more prominent projects are the renovation of the nearby East End Theater into 22 apartments above restaurant Liberty Public House, and Patrick Henry Square, another mixed-use conversion, this one of a former auto garage.

Josh Bilder

After wrapping up Patrick Henry Square in 2017, Bilder spent some time away from development, save for throwing his hat in the ring during the Richmond Coliseum redevelopment saga.

Bilder said he’s using the Jefferson Avenue project as a reentry into the game.

“It’s in the very beginning stages,” Bilder said. “I’m excited to get this one started.”

A 900-square-foot commercial structure currently stands on the land, though it’s been vacant for decades, Bilder said. He said he believes it had once been a long-time candy store before becoming a laundromat.

“We’ll try to save as much as we can, but the building is severely deteriorated,” he said. “We’re saving some architectural elements of the building but most of it will be taken down.”

In its place will rise a two-story commercial space, and behind that a three-story townhome is planned. Bilder said the townhome might also include a commercial element on the ground floor, noting potential office uses. The project will span a total of around 3,900 square feet.

City records show Bilder bought the 0.07-acre parcel for $59,000 in 2013. After nearly 10 years, Bilder said momentum in the neighborhood as well as in the city helped motivate him to act on the project.

An early drawing of the project that’s set to rise in Church Hill. (City documents)

“I just saw what’s going on in the rest of the neighborhood, and I consider this project a gateway to Church Hill,” he said. “And with the culture of the city, it’s much more pro-development than it was in the past.”

Brooklyn-based Sebastian Quinn Building Workshop is the project’s architect. Bilder said he’s hoping to begin work this fall.

“I’m going to take a dive on this one and hopefully do some more in the future,” he said.

A few blocks east, work continues on Matt Jarreau and Daniil Kleyman’s mixed-use project at 2416 Jefferson Ave., which will bring 21 apartments plus commercial space occupied by a noodle bar, ice cream shop and more.

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Brett Themore
Brett Themore
14 days ago

Why go out to an out of state architect/drafts person for this? There’s no design here. This project would garner a B in any high school drafting class, try something local next time.

Matt Faris
Matt Faris
14 days ago
Reply to  Brett Themore

There it is! Why must most every design, regardless of the level of detail, get the Wrath if Richmond? For cryin’ out loud, give the folks a chance to do the entire job. Must everything in the area be designed by locals, and I mean no offense to the locals. But I’m guessing they also do work in other metro areas.

Many here bitch about the design of locals (unwarranted IMHO), so this developer get0s an architect from NYC, and here we go! “Use local!”

Brett Themore
Brett Themore
14 days ago
Reply to  Matt Faris

Yes. Use local when available, keep our money here, let’s support our community, sorry you feel differently. This design is sub par at best, good that something is being done, yes, but sub par. It’s a knock off Italianate, which every CH developer is putting in place in every vacant lot they can get their hands on. NY is an international city, where good designers are a stone throw away, and this is what they come up with? The right local designer, cares about this place, understands it, and will know how to navigate the process, and not just cookie… Read more »

Alan Johnson
Alan Johnson
14 days ago
Reply to  Brett Themore

Totally agree with your comments.

Lee Thomas
Lee Thomas
13 days ago
Reply to  Brett Themore

For what it’s worth, these appear to be VERY early/preliminary drafts. The drawings look like two different ideas for the same development. I’d expected the final product to be much better.

Last edited 13 days ago by Lee Thomas
David Seibert
David Seibert
14 days ago

This project is going to do wonders for that little corner. Excited to see it!

Matt Jarreau
Matt Jarreau
14 days ago

Should be a nice addition to the area! Happy to see something happen here!

Kelly Ludwig
Kelly Ludwig
13 days ago

This design isn’t Italianate because the designer would have had to open a book to find out what that even meant. My guess is that he drove by some building while cruising the Jersey turnpike and he’s trying desperately to relive the memory.

Joshua Bilder
Joshua Bilder
12 days ago

I just want to say this project has been approved by the committee of architectural review and it’s a by right mixed use project. This is an address of prominence and located on one of the best lots in Richmond. Just like all of my other projects I’ve built in the past they become an architectural inspiration and construction form to emulate.

Kelly Ludwig
Kelly Ludwig
10 days ago
Reply to  Joshua Bilder

The City of Richmond Architectural Committee is not going to red-line your drawings as to the correct use of scale, proportion and detail. The application of appropriate classical architecture (in this case the Italianate style 1840-1885) is not difficult to understand and apply to even the most modest of buildings. Start with this….the frieze is wrong, the columns are wrong, the windows are wrong, the doors are wrong, the railing is wrong, the siding is wrong.

Kelly Ludwig
Kelly Ludwig
10 days ago
Reply to  Kelly Ludwig

Also, the beams are wrong, the cornice is wrong and the roof pitches are wrong.

Matt Faris
Matt Faris
8 days ago
Reply to  Kelly Ludwig

Does this area require that it be of a specific style of architecture? (I’m not familiar with city requirements with respect to the architecture).

Thanks

Brett Themore
Brett Themore
5 days ago
Reply to  Matt Faris

Kelly, Spot on! It’s so bad. Matt, No specific style requirement, but it’s not hard for most to copy something. Apparently very difficult if you’re a designer from NY. A copy would look better. Joshua, you feel this is an address of prominence, let’s hire a knowledgeable designer. Also, CAR is a rubber stamp for Italianate buildings, nothing to brag about. They don’t tell you how to design your building, if you want it to look ugly, that’s your right.