20-home infill proposed beside Union Hill church

VenableChurchTHs4

Townhomes are envisioned to fill part of the Great Hope Baptist Church property at Venable and 21st streets. (Jonathan Spiers photos)

A church in Union Hill could get new neighbors with an infill development envisioned for part of its property.

UrbanCore Construction is looking to build 20 townhomes on what’s now parking lots for Great Hope Baptist Church along Venable Street.

Sixteen of the homes would replace the roughly half-acre lot at 2111-2119 Venable St. beside the church building, while the remaining four units would replace a smaller lot across Burton Street that the church also owns.

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Sixteen of the homes would fill the parking lot beside the church, while four others would fill church-owned property across Burton Street. (City documents)

The development site along Venable consists of six church-owned parcels and does not include two separately owned parcels fronting 22nd Street.

Conceptual plans submitted to the city last fall show three-story units grouped in pairs or threes and fronting either Venable or Burton. Some of the homes would include third-floor rear terraces.

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The three-story townhomes would be grouped in pairs or threes.

The project was presented for initial feedback in November to Richmond’s Commission of Architectural Review. Planning staff said a special-use permit may be needed if the project proceeds to zoning review.

Based on the plans submitted, CAR’s concept review found that the homes featured few architectural elements that reference existing buildings in the area. Staff recommended that the new buildings incorporate traditional architectural elements found in Union Hill, such as a cornice feature, front porches and “greater articulation of and around the windows.”

Staff said little information was provided on the building design, with renderings provided primarily showing their massing. Elevation renderings of the buildings were recommended for final review, though staff noted that the massing appeared narrower and taller than other building heights in that area.

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A rendering shows the buildings’ massing along Venable Street (labeled as 22nd Street in the image) across from another church and existing two-story homes.

Staff recommended reducing the buildings to two stories and adding larger windows on the first floors, in keeping with the style of other buildings in the neighborhood. Several citizens who spoke in a public hearing expressed concerns with the proposed building height and appearance.

Walter Parks Architects is designing the townhomes and submitted the plans as the project applicant. The plans list UrbanCore principal Jeff Bunch as representing Great Hope Baptist as the property owner. Requests to Bunch for comment for this story were not fulfilled.

A final review from CAR would be needed before the project could move forward. CAR Secretary Alex Dandridge said that he had not heard from the applicant since the initial review in November and that a final review had not been scheduled.

VenableChurchTHs5

Most of the homes would replace the parking lot beside Great Hope Baptist.

The project is one of several residential developments proposed along Venable.

A few blocks away, local developer Chris Bishop has been planning 13 apartments beside and partially on top of an existing single-story commercial building at 912 Tulip St., beside The Goodwyn at Union Hill apartment complex. Farther east, an out-of-town firm has proposed a cluster of 10 new townhomes on vacant land at the northwest corner of Venable and Russell streets.

VenableChurchTHs4

Townhomes are envisioned to fill part of the Great Hope Baptist Church property at Venable and 21st streets. (Jonathan Spiers photos)

A church in Union Hill could get new neighbors with an infill development envisioned for part of its property.

UrbanCore Construction is looking to build 20 townhomes on what’s now parking lots for Great Hope Baptist Church along Venable Street.

Sixteen of the homes would replace the roughly half-acre lot at 2111-2119 Venable St. beside the church building, while the remaining four units would replace a smaller lot across Burton Street that the church also owns.

VenableChurchTHs2

Sixteen of the homes would fill the parking lot beside the church, while four others would fill church-owned property across Burton Street. (City documents)

The development site along Venable consists of six church-owned parcels and does not include two separately owned parcels fronting 22nd Street.

Conceptual plans submitted to the city last fall show three-story units grouped in pairs or threes and fronting either Venable or Burton. Some of the homes would include third-floor rear terraces.

VenableChurchTHs3

The three-story townhomes would be grouped in pairs or threes.

The project was presented for initial feedback in November to Richmond’s Commission of Architectural Review. Planning staff said a special-use permit may be needed if the project proceeds to zoning review.

Based on the plans submitted, CAR’s concept review found that the homes featured few architectural elements that reference existing buildings in the area. Staff recommended that the new buildings incorporate traditional architectural elements found in Union Hill, such as a cornice feature, front porches and “greater articulation of and around the windows.”

Staff said little information was provided on the building design, with renderings provided primarily showing their massing. Elevation renderings of the buildings were recommended for final review, though staff noted that the massing appeared narrower and taller than other building heights in that area.

VenableChurchTHs1

A rendering shows the buildings’ massing along Venable Street (labeled as 22nd Street in the image) across from another church and existing two-story homes.

Staff recommended reducing the buildings to two stories and adding larger windows on the first floors, in keeping with the style of other buildings in the neighborhood. Several citizens who spoke in a public hearing expressed concerns with the proposed building height and appearance.

Walter Parks Architects is designing the townhomes and submitted the plans as the project applicant. The plans list UrbanCore principal Jeff Bunch as representing Great Hope Baptist as the property owner. Requests to Bunch for comment for this story were not fulfilled.

A final review from CAR would be needed before the project could move forward. CAR Secretary Alex Dandridge said that he had not heard from the applicant since the initial review in November and that a final review had not been scheduled.

VenableChurchTHs5

Most of the homes would replace the parking lot beside Great Hope Baptist.

The project is one of several residential developments proposed along Venable.

A few blocks away, local developer Chris Bishop has been planning 13 apartments beside and partially on top of an existing single-story commercial building at 912 Tulip St., beside The Goodwyn at Union Hill apartment complex. Farther east, an out-of-town firm has proposed a cluster of 10 new townhomes on vacant land at the northwest corner of Venable and Russell streets.

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John Lindner
John Lindner
5 months ago

I’d like to see the height in context of the neighborhood — especially the church, but I like the idea of 3 stories, especially if they have any roof-level amenities. But I do have to agree the homes look narrow. With stairs/stairwells on 3 floors, you’re giving up a lot of square footage.