Spy Rock planning something big in Newtowne West neighborhood

A rendering of the planned apartment building at 900 N. Allen Ave. (Courtesy of city documents)

Developers continue to show an appetite for surface parking lots in the city, with a particularly large slab just west of VCU in line for a multi-family transformation.

Last week, Spy Rock Real Estate Group filed plans to build a 301-unit apartment building on the 4.3-acre lot at 900 N. Allen Ave. next to the Lowe’s store in the Newtowne West neighborhood.

A 2,300-square-foot garage is the only structure that currently sits on the site. It is mainly used as a parking lot by its owner, local charter bus company James River Transportation.

Spy Rock’s plans call for a five-story building and a 423-space parking deck to rise on the lot. Plans show that the building would not contain any commercial uses.

Spy Rock and James River Transportation leadership were not available for comment by press time.

The 4-acre site is mostly a parking lot. The only structure on it is a garage. (Mike Platania photo)

The land is zoned TOD-1 Transit-Oriented Nodal District, which allows for up to 12 stories and a mix of uses. Poole & Poole Architecture is listed in plans as the project’s architect and Timmons Group its engineer.

City records show James River Transportation has owned the land since 2000 when it bought it for $367,000. It was most recently assessed at $2.5 million. It’s unclear whether Spy Rock intends to purchase the property from James River Transportation.

James River Transportation also owns 915 N. Allen Ave. across the street, which it also uses as its headquarters. It bought that land for $522,000 in 1997, and it was assessed this year at $3.7 million.

The proposed project comes at a busy time for Spy Rock. It just paid $5 million for 2001 Dabney Road, where it is planning a 245-unit apartment building there.

The Allen development would be the second sizable apartment building to rise in the Newtowne West neighborhood in recent years. Minnesota-based The Opus Group is nearing completion on Ascend RVA, a 12-story apartment tower at the corner of Broad and Lombardy streets.

A rendering of the planned apartment building at 900 N. Allen Ave. (Courtesy of city documents)

Developers continue to show an appetite for surface parking lots in the city, with a particularly large slab just west of VCU in line for a multi-family transformation.

Last week, Spy Rock Real Estate Group filed plans to build a 301-unit apartment building on the 4.3-acre lot at 900 N. Allen Ave. next to the Lowe’s store in the Newtowne West neighborhood.

A 2,300-square-foot garage is the only structure that currently sits on the site. It is mainly used as a parking lot by its owner, local charter bus company James River Transportation.

Spy Rock’s plans call for a five-story building and a 423-space parking deck to rise on the lot. Plans show that the building would not contain any commercial uses.

Spy Rock and James River Transportation leadership were not available for comment by press time.

The 4-acre site is mostly a parking lot. The only structure on it is a garage. (Mike Platania photo)

The land is zoned TOD-1 Transit-Oriented Nodal District, which allows for up to 12 stories and a mix of uses. Poole & Poole Architecture is listed in plans as the project’s architect and Timmons Group its engineer.

City records show James River Transportation has owned the land since 2000 when it bought it for $367,000. It was most recently assessed at $2.5 million. It’s unclear whether Spy Rock intends to purchase the property from James River Transportation.

James River Transportation also owns 915 N. Allen Ave. across the street, which it also uses as its headquarters. It bought that land for $522,000 in 1997, and it was assessed this year at $3.7 million.

The proposed project comes at a busy time for Spy Rock. It just paid $5 million for 2001 Dabney Road, where it is planning a 245-unit apartment building there.

The Allen development would be the second sizable apartment building to rise in the Newtowne West neighborhood in recent years. Minnesota-based The Opus Group is nearing completion on Ascend RVA, a 12-story apartment tower at the corner of Broad and Lombardy streets.

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Will Willis
Will Willis
1 month ago

Was thinking this was going to be the next big block development in the area, hope it causes that entire area to get redone from Allen Ave, Broad, Meadow street/Hermitage Rd to Leigh St. and include replacing the old Sears building.

Jackson Joyner
Jackson Joyner
1 month ago
Reply to  Will Willis

I don’t understand why the Sauers continue to sit on that old Sears building. It is such an eyesore and it has been vacant since the late 70s.

Peg Mack
Peg Mack
1 month ago
Reply to  Jackson Joyner

The old Sears building is actually a Sauer Brands manufacturing facility. You’d never know it by the outside rundown appearance, but it is occupied.

Jagdish Khandelwal
Jagdish Khandelwal
1 month ago
Reply to  Peg Mack

Maybe they could dress it up – or move to a better location.

Michael Morgan-Dodson
Michael Morgan-Dodson
1 month ago
Reply to  Peg Mack

Sauers Foods is not owned by the family anymore and the new owners have said once their lease is up they are moving the factory (and probably taking good manufacturing jobs with them out of the city) to a new site. The Suaers family owns the buildings so look for the “Center” around Whole Foods to expand.

Justin Reynolds
Justin Reynolds
1 month ago

This project looks great for that location! Although the start of the article threw me off with it saying “ Developers continue to show an appetite for surface parking lots in the city…” This sentence could have read: Developers continue to show an appetite for building on surface parking lots. When I first read it, I thought they were keeping a large surface parking lot, which didn’t make sense for the TOD zoning.

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
1 month ago

The same thing occurred to me. Sauers owns acres of land in that area as well as the Seats building which they use as storage. There’s has to be a better use for that site.

Don O'Keefe
Don O'Keefe
1 month ago

This seems like a good project. It would great if the south side of this development was designed in a way that accommodated the possible future extension of Clay street to Allen Ave.

Jagdish Khandelwal
Jagdish Khandelwal
1 month ago

Is anyone going to do anything with the old Sears store one block west of Lowe’s? It would be perfect for development and to get rid of the old eyesore.

Flora Valdes-Dapena
Flora Valdes-Dapena
1 month ago

Cool to see more apartments going up, but 423 parking spaces for 301 households is just ridiculous, especially there. Walking distance to 2 grocery stores and a BRT station! How is that allowed in the TOD-1 zone?

Don O'Keefe
Don O'Keefe
1 month ago

Agree completely! And if they do make that many spots, why not make it a true 5 over 1? (6 stories rather than only 5.)

Flora Valdes-Dapena
Flora Valdes-Dapena
1 month ago
Reply to  Don O'Keefe

Or more of the 12 stories allowed by the zoning!

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
1 month ago
Reply to  Don O'Keefe

It appears to be five above grade with a separate garage structure. It’s less expensive to build than on a podium deck.

John Lindner
John Lindner
1 month ago

Couldn’t disagree more. Smart developers are adding more parking because they realize they can’t rent them without it. A unit could easily have more than one bedroom, and even with one bedroom, many couples have two cars. Minimal parking only works here for students. This is not NYC, and the BRT is no metro. And hello, what if your job isn’t on the BRT????

Michael Stapor
Michael Stapor
1 month ago

Completely agree – I think the TOD-1 zone needs parking maximum caps. It is completely unsustainable.

Roger Turner
Roger Turner
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Stapor

Out of curiosity do you use the Bus for all your transportation or do you generally handle all of you living activities in a one or two mile area? I just am wondering how people think Richmond doesn’t need parking, only so many people can live near Broad on the bus line and only so many people can live near their work (or at least close enough to walk or bike to work). Most people have to travel to work, to their Doctor, to their day care, to their visit their relatives and friends, etc. That all takes cars, I… Read more »

Chris Crews
Chris Crews
1 month ago
Reply to  Roger Turner

As a former Fan resident, I can say that you can definitely exist without a car. From my home, I could walk to the grocery, Lowes, a Patient First, the post office, my bank, and most importantly, three different liquor stores.

Lou Baker
Lou Baker
1 month ago

Once again my concern is that the building facade is almost an exact copy of most of the other new structures throughout the area. There is little or no variety, just the same grindingly dull boxes, with neither style nor flair. It seems the lack of both indicates that architecture as a field has finally reached a level which no longer bothers to include them.

John Lindner
John Lindner
1 month ago
Reply to  Lou Baker

Agreed. Spyrock always does a great job, but the long midsection of this building looks pretty monotonous. More interesting features would be a bonus.

John Lindner
John Lindner
1 month ago

PS: Maybe that horrible bump on Allen by the railroad tracks will finally get fixed!

Jerel C. Wilmore
Jerel C. Wilmore
1 month ago

A few quick points: 1) This project shows that there is a huge demand in Richmond for housing development and more density. 2) Some creative developer should build a modern warehouse and trade it to Sauers for the old Sears building on Broad Street, which has become an eyesore. Sauers would get a new warehouse and Richmond would get a half-block of mid-rise apartments a block from a Pulse station. Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code: look it up. 3) Mayor Stoney and City Council have blundered by not putting the real estate parcels the city owns in Navy… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Jerel C. Wilmore