The developers planning a nine-figure project in front of Legend Brewing Co. have gone back to the drawing board with the brewery’s well-known skyline view in mind.
Avery Hall Investments, the Brooklyn-based firm that’s under contract to purchase nearly 3 acres of riverfront land at 301 W. Sixth St. in Manchester, has tweaked its plans for the site.
In July the developer unveiled plans for a 17-story building on the western side of the plot, closer to the Manchester Bridge, as well as an L-shaped, 11-story building to the east.
But following discussions with the neighborhood, most notably Legend Brewing Co., whose patio view would’ve been significantly obscured by the buildings, Avery Hall is now planning to shift the western building 81 feet to the east and 20 feet closer to the river, a move they say will preserve significantly more of the view of downtown from Legend’s deck. The land to the west that the building would have occupied will instead be a courtyard.
Avery Hall is also now planning to shorten the length of the eastern building, while increasing its height. Instead of reaching 11 stories, it’ll reach 16 stories along West Sixth Street and 17 stories facing Perry Street, another move that they say will help preserve sightlines.
“We (initially) were looking to preserve a view straight out from the deck,” said Avery Hall partner Jesse Wark. “We received feedback from primarily Legend but also the community that they wanted to prioritize the downtown view. That was clear across the board.”
Avery Hall partner Brian Ezra said they went into the redesign prioritizing the downtown view, while “understanding it’s difficult to get everything you might want.”
The company unveiled the plans publicly at Thursday’s Manchester Alliance meeting, with the likes of City Councilwoman Ellen Robertson, whose district includes Manchester, and Kevin Vonck, the city’s director of planning and development review, in attendance.
After the meeting, Legend Vice President of Operations Dave Gott said he found the new design to be an improvement but said, “The long and short of it is, anything over three stories down there is just not good for us.”
“They’re going to do what they’re legally allowed to do, that’s going to happen,” Gott added. “Just don’t ask us to be like cheerleaders for it, because we’re not.”
Views from the McRae & Lacy townhome development from Eagle Construction of VA to the east of Legend would also be impacted by the project.
Kirk Johnson lives at McRae & Lacy with his wife and Manchester Alliance board member Janet Woodka, and he said he also found the new design to be preferable to the previous one.
“Overall, it seems like they made some improvements. But there’s still room for additional improvement,” Johnson said. “And the overall size is a question.”
The project is still set to bring between 525 and 550 apartments to Manchester, the same approximate amount Avery Hall’s initial design called for.
The two buildings would be connected by a four-level parking garage that Wark and Ezra said would offer at least one parking spot per unit.
The developer is still planning to pursue a special-use permit to entitle the project, something that will be needed because the land’s RF-2 Riverfront zoning allows only up to 13 stories. Ezra and Wark said that if they don’t receive an SUP, they have a plan to develop the land by right.
Ezra and Wark declined to disclose the project’s cost, but Ezra said it’ll be in the nine-figure range.
The duo said they realize now that picking this Manchester site as their entry into the Richmond market has proven to be more complicated than they initially contemplated.
“Obviously, there’s an engaged community here which makes us work a little harder. But also we feel the more we’re here, it has made us more confident and more committed,” Wark said.
Added Ezra: “It bolsters the courage of our conviction that people care. Because this is a really great place, and people are motivated to protect, as they think is best to protect, something they care about and think is important.”