A baker’s dozen of new apartments and potentially a restaurant could be coming to Union Hill by way of an infill development off Venable Street.
Local developer Chris Bishop is looking to add 13 apartments beside and partially on top of an existing single-story commercial building at 912 Tulip St., a roughly quarter-acre lot beside The Goodwyn at Union Hill apartment complex.
The new apartments would fill a three-story structure that would wrap around the existing building’s north and west sides, with part of the new construction on top of the rear half of the building.
The existing building, which formerly housed 7th Day Praise & Worship Church, would be worked into the development to provide two commercial spaces, one of which has attracted a potential restaurant user.
“We have a restaurant operator who is interested but hasn’t committed yet,” said Bishop, who runs Richmond-based Kaizen Development and Management LLC.
Bishop estimated the development at $2.5 million. He purchased the property last fall with a different LLC for $285,000, city records show. The city assessed the property at the time at $66,000.
He said he came across the site while searching for development opportunities in the area after completing a single-family home in Church Hill last year.
“That project went very well, and I was looking to do something a bit more involved,” said Bishop, whose background includes two adaptive reuse projects involving industrial properties.
“Searching around for potential sites, this one popped up, and it had a lot of appeal. It was a fairly large-sized lot, and I really liked the commercial piece of it,” he said. “I wanted to do something mixed-use, and this seemed to fit really well already having the commercial building on it.”
Because the site is within the city’s Union Hill Old and Historic District, the project requires approval from Richmond’s Commission of Architectural Review, as well as a special-use permit to allow the multiple uses. Bishop said he submitted an SUP request last week and has had an initial conceptual meeting with CAR, which endorsed the project with conditions at its meeting Tuesday afternoon.
Working with Katie Harrigan at architecture firm 3North, Bishop initially proposed a four-story apartment building, but he said CAR suggested a reduction in the height to better scale the project with surrounding buildings.
“They said if you take the fourth story off, you can put it on top of the existing commercial, and that worked out really well,” he said, adding that the reconfiguration retained the project’s density.
A city staff report said CAR was OK with the redesign because it preserved the front facade of the commercial building, which was built in the 1940s. The building’s frame gable roof, which is nonoriginal, would be removed.
The new construction would form an L-shape around the existing building, with eight parking spaces below the bulk of the apartments and accessed off an alley. A two-story portion of the building fronting Tulip Street would provide rooftop space for a patio and pergola. The rest of the units would also include balconies.
The apartments would range in size from about 640 to 900 square feet, with a mix of studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedroom units. The two commercial units would be about 1,200 and 1,500 square feet in size.
Bishop said rents for the apartments would be market rate and provide a mix of housing options on the city block that includes The Goodwyn at Union Hill, which is income restricted.
“Given that some of the units around it and behind it are income-based, I think it’ll be a good mix to the neighborhood to have both of those right in the same area, and I like the diversity that that brings,” Bishop said.
The Goodwyn project, by local developer Better Housing Coalition, was completed in 2019 as a conversion of the former Citadel of Hope property. Bishop said he ran his project by BHC CEO Greta Harris, who he said was supportive of the plan.
Bishop said he reached out to Harris because he was interested in purchasing the old gas station building at the corner of Tulip and Venable streets. BHC owns that building but didn’t include it in its Goodwyn redevelopment.
“I’d made an offer and she said she’s not interested in selling, but she’d be interested in buying my site,” Bishop said, laughing.
Harris said Tuesday that BHC intends to use the corner property to house a neighborhood business. She said those plans were put on hold during the pandemic but remain in the works.
Bishop’s project adds to a wave of development activity that continues along the Venable and Carrington Street corridors.
A block away, Amanda Seibert’s Nest Builders Development Co. is building 10 new homes, while Bryan Traylor’s Unlimited Renovations is developing a three-story mixed-use building with nine apartments at Carrington and 22nd Street.