Developers tweak two-tower plan to preserve more of Legend’s view

A rendering of what the new view from Legend Brewing’s deck would look like with the proposed apartments built. (Images courtesy of Avery Hall Investments)

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.”

An updated site plan for the proposed apartment development at 301 W. Sixth St. in Manchester.

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.”

A rendering of what the new view from Legend Brewing’s deck would look like with the proposed apartments built. (Images courtesy of Avery Hall Investments)

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.”

An updated site plan for the proposed apartment development at 301 W. Sixth St. in Manchester.

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.”

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Gerry Tom
Gerry Tom
2 months ago

Dave Gott comes off very entitled. The developer was very gracious in my opinion. If Legend wants the view that much, they could have bought the plot of land

Alejandro Andrade
Alejandro Andrade
2 months ago
Reply to  Gerry Tom

They could have bought the plot of land or they could have requested that they have a rooftop brewery or something in one of the taller buildings. I really wish they would have done that because I think it would have been a really cool addition to the city given that the only real rooftop bar type thing is Kabana.

David Humphrey
David Humphrey
2 months ago

Is this why Legend’s no longer has burgers and is reducing their menu? Seems like they are getting ready to throw in the towel and use the loss of the view as the excuse. I can see why he is worried. The only thing saving the restaurant at this point is the view.

Brett Hunnicutt
Brett Hunnicutt
2 months ago
Reply to  David Humphrey

The view is all that has saved them for the last 20 years.

Kelly Ludwig
Kelly Ludwig
2 months ago

The amazing beer that I’ve been drinking for 25 plus years is what saves them. A bottle of Legend brown ale and 2 shots of Cosomigos will put you in a mood.

Brian Glass
Brian Glass
2 months ago

The developer of the property is being extremely generous. Legends needs to keep in mind that the higher the building the greater the cost that the developer will bear .Dave Gott should be thanking Avery Hall instead of being ungrateful for the change in plan.

Fred Squire
Fred Squire
2 months ago

Wow. Amazing negative response for what I think is a gesture that truthfully didn’t need to be offered, but was so they could be a new, good neighbor.

The cost of a redesign I’m sure isn’t being paid for by the local neighbors and Legend. And somehow it’s not good enough.

If I was the building developer, I’d just revert back to the original design.

Justin Reynolds
Justin Reynolds
2 months ago

Legend Brewery is a Richmond institution, and given their lack of interest in seeing Manchester grow and thrive, they have outlived their usefulness. Gott comes across as very negative here and it’s not a good look. Sadly, I’ve never had a good experience when visiting their restaurant/brewery in person (picking up beer at the grocery store has always been great). I have always been willing to give them one more try, given the nice scenery/view, only to have bad and sometimes zero service (twice I left after being ignored for 15+ mins by their staff).

Peter James
Peter James
2 months ago

Gott comes across like a whiny, entitled, spoiled brat who is approaching this as if he owns Manchester (or at least the Manchester riverfront) and is going to scream, cry and kick when he doesn’t get his way. In addition to saddling themselves with additional costs of reconfiguring their development in order to cater to Legends, Avery Hall is literally plunking down a thousand potential patrons in this man’s lap and he kvetches like a two-year-old. His attitude is disgusting, quite frankly. Talk about giving Richmonders — and Richmond — a black eye in terms of perception of how we… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Peter James
Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter James

Yeah—contrast this with the totally classy response of the developers and the way they have characterized the whining as “caring about the community“ these guys definitely know what they are doing.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
2 months ago

Yes. I went to legends restaurant ages ago and the interior had a very 1970sStale beer smell and grimy tile ambience to it. I do and will continue to buy legends at other restaurants but have sworn to myself never to go back unless it was a beautiful evening and I could sit on the deck – – so maybe that is why he is so concerned about the deck and the view I think he needs to get a building permit and elevate his deck.

Joey perry
Joey perry
2 months ago

I’m going to just ago ahead and say it…. I can’t wait until the day legends brewery is gone for good. It’s food quality is awful these people seem to like to complain everything in front of themthe beer is awful. Nevermind he’s about to have some new neighbors in front of his doorsteps that could be customers. Dude needs to get real.

Last edited 2 months ago by Joey perry
JORDAN TUCKER
JORDAN TUCKER
2 months ago

I must admit I am surprised by Mr. Gott’s comments as Avery Hall could have told him to take a hike instead of offering an olive branch. Obviously there has been significant expense to investigate the change

Peter James
Peter James
2 months ago
Reply to  JORDAN TUCKER

I am absolutely FLOORED by Gott’s utter classless attitude toward Avery Hall. He’s dug his heels in and is holding firm to a “my way or the highway” mentality. NIMBYism at it’s worst.

Avery Hall will incur tremendous additional expense to build out the east tower vertically vs laterally. Like you said – they could have told him to jump in the James, but they didn’t. Kudos to Avery Hall for proving themselves to be a good neighbor.

Polgar Concertado
Polgar Concertado
2 months ago

I think Dave is just being honest here and personally don’t think his comment is all that bad. That said, it would be interesting to see if Avery Hall could carve out some inside/outside commercial / restaurant space in their building (with a river view) that Legend could rent. Even without a view, Legend can likely make a decent penny selling their existing land once their new space is available.

Last edited 2 months ago by Polgar Concertado
Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
2 months ago

Upon build out there will be more than 1000 units within 100 feet of Legends doorstep. That’s roughly 1500 new customers many whom will probably like a cold beer.Legends will be forced to pick up its game and if it does it will prosper. Compare the waiting lines at the brew pubs in Scotts Addition (often a block long) to that of Legends (rarely any). Have you seen a “view” in Scotts Addition you’d like to see twice? Dave was complaining about the lack of city services in Manchester and his complaint is valid. There are more than 2000 units… Read more »

Justin W Ranson
Justin W Ranson
2 months ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

I’ve never seen a company so angry about the potential influx of 1000 new regular customers.

Peter James
Peter James
2 months ago

Tell me about it. Wow – “I have a chance to make a BOATLOAD of money from new customers AND I’M NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!”

Can someone PLEASE explain to me by Dave Gott is acting more like Marvin the Martian than a smart business owner?

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
2 months ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

Can you bring up a great Point about other areas especially Scott’s addition – – there really must be some kind of magic fairy dust in Scott’s addition because not only are there no nice views but there’s barely any green space it’s like a cross between Hopewell and Williamsburg Brooklyn or Long Island city Queens – the kind of area that people tend to only live in because it is the only affordable option —- Somehow millennials and Brooklyn made such environments cool like people currently think mid century modern furniture is…

Peter James
Peter James
2 months ago

Kudos to Avery Hall for their due diligence in addressing the issue and developing a very workable approach that will cost them more to build but in the long run creates a much better product for the Manchester riverfront. They deserve a ton of credit for their willingness to not only cater to Legends but to bear the cost of redrafting their plan, not to mention the additional expense that will be incurred by building more vertically vs laterally. Hoping and praying for a quick and easy approval of their SUP request and that they can break ground soon to… Read more »

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
2 months ago

Well you can Count me as a cheerleader for this. I both like the idea of a taller more iconic building to break up the skyline a bit and provide some more visual interest but also preserving the view seems to be a good idea too. Perhaps legend could raise their deck a few feet? Maybe sing some posts and have a two-story deck? Maybe build a big pirate ship up on the second story fly the Jolly Roger so that boats on the river can see them? I don’t know there’s a lot of people who seem quick to… Read more »

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
2 months ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

Of course if they build a big pirate ship on the second story of the raised deck Some group will complain that the nautical architecture doesn’t fit in with Richmond red brick and beige don’t look at me Georgian aesthetic no doubt.

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
2 months ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

LOL. Boats on the river?!! I know Shawn is just having fun with this.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
2 months ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

Yes. Sometimes I think somebody needs to.

Clarence jones
Clarence jones
2 months ago

Amazing how a city holds up development that would generate lots of tax $ for a private restaurant like legends for his sole benefit which would not benefit the city as a whole. Obviously someone is on the take

leslie brown
leslie brown
2 months ago

Unfortunately it appears that Richmond BizSense could not attend last week’s meeting held by the Manchester Alliance, otherwise I hope they would have mentioned the record attendance at the meeting by concerned neighbors. At the meeting our focus moved from development design to the expectation that granting by the City of zoning variances (and near doubling of density) comes with some benefit to the surrounding community. The initial concern regarding the view from the open space deck at Legends is not simply about the brewery or supporting a long-time local business. Instead it is a cry for help by a community that is… Read more »

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
2 months ago
Reply to  leslie brown

Developers only care about profit

Joey perry
Joey perry
2 months ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

I’m pretty sure someone doesn’t start a business or own one to lose money. If you are in the business of losing money and have almost no profit or return after investing then you just suck at owning a business and are going to fail before you ever opened up shop.