After deferment, council greenlights 60-unit Hull Street apartment project

1401Hull rendering

A rendering of the proposed building on Hull Street. (BizSense file photo)

After an extra month of consideration, a planned apartment complex in Manchester has been given the green light from the city.

Last night Richmond City Council voted to approve a 60-unit apartment project at 1401-1407 Hull St. 

The new development would replace a trio of vacant one-story buildings on a quarter-acre lot directly across from the Hull Street Public Library. In addition to five dozen apartments, the development is also planned to include a 27-space parking deck and 1,900 square feet of commercial space. 

At five stories, the proposed height fits within the lot’s existing B-5 Business District zoning, however it needed a special-use permit in order to waive a side yard requirement in the zoning code. 

The city’s Planning Commission recommended approving the project in early February, but Council delayed its decision on the project twice at its Feb. 12 and 26 meetings. 

About 10 people spoke against the development at Monday’s council meeting, with about half as many speaking in favor. Opponents cited concerns of gentrification and long-time residents being forced out of the neighborhood as a result of the development. Those in favor said it would bring much-needed housing to the city and that the development is in line with the city’s master plan.

Councilwoman Ellen Robertson, who represents the district in which the building would rise, supported the development.

Robertson emphasized during the meeting that no one would be displaced as a result of the development since no one lives at the existing buildings, which she said is currently caving in. Robertson said it’s a “disgrace to the City of Richmond that we have buildings as blighted,” as the existing structures at 1401-1407 Hull St.

Council ultimately voted unanimously to approve the development’s the special-use permit. 

hull street council Cropped scaled

The existing buildings on the site have sat unused in recent years. (Mike Platania photo)

Behind the project are three active players in the local development world: Walter Parks of Walter Parks Architecture; Richard Smith of demolition and civil construction firm RJ Smith Cos.; and Malcome Sargent of Lakeside-based general contractor SRC Construction. Lory Markham of Markham Planning represented the development team in the SUP process. 

Parks’ firm has designed a handful of the new-construction apartment buildings elsewhere in the neighborhood, while Smith was behind the redevelopment of a once-vacant building across the street at 1321 Hull St. into 20 apartments plus commercial space. Entities tied to Smith bought 1401-1407 Hull St. for a total of $495,000 in a pair of deals that closed in 2015 and 2021. 

The development team has previously said they’re looking to finance the project with the help of low-income housing tax credits, which would restrict some of the units in the building to residents earning no more than 50 or 60 percent of the area median income. It’s unclear whether those tax credits have been awarded. 

Also earning council approval on Monday night was an SUP to convert the T. Seddon Bruce House at 207 W. Franklin St.  in Monroe Ward into apartments.

The 139-year-old building has been an office in recent years, and in 2021 a D.C.-based investor bought the house for $1.03 million and is now planning to convert the existing three-story building into eight apartments and to build an addition and carriage house on the property that would add another three apartments to the property.

POSTED IN Commercial Real Estate

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Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
23 days ago

I’m glad this is going forward and more new Manchester construction is taking hold. Also newsworthy is Berkadia’s listing for sale of the Legends property on West 7th Street.

David Humphrey
David Humphrey
22 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

And there it goes…

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
22 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

Well THAT’s interesting info. Thank you!

Brett Themore
Brett Themore
23 days ago

Redlining is still strong in the investment community. Why are only low income financing deals available and the only means of financing in certain areas? We are repeating the artificial centralization and concentration of poverty that has plagued every major city for the last 80 years. Every development of size across the metro region, say of +/-10 units should provide up to 10% for lower income residents. This allows these residents to access neighborhoods, jobs and services that are common and available to others.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
22 days ago
Reply to  Brett Themore

Do you mean redlining in a metaphorical sense? Redlining actually used to mean some one drew a red line, often where one didn’t need to be drawn. Now, it is rather statistical and also create opportunities where people can take more risk and possible reward.

Casey Flores
Casey Flores
22 days ago

Gentrification? It’s replacing vacant buildings. Imagine wanting what’s there over what was improved 😂

Peter James
Peter James
21 days ago
Reply to  Casey Flores

I guess the rats, squirrels and pigeons that make their “homes” in these vacant buildings will need to find a new place to live. 😳

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
21 days ago
Reply to  Casey Flores

Everything that benefits the Wrong People is Gentrification to the envious, even if it also net benefits them as well.

Boz Boschen
Boz Boschen
22 days ago

I’m curious how long these properties were vacant, and at what point they became blighted. Councilwoman Robertson could have pushed for policies that would have had vacant buildings occupied and contributing to the city. I’ve discussed this issue with policymakers and understand we need help from the General Assembly, but I don’t see that we’ve made any progress for as long as some have been in office. Embarassing it was directly across from the library. What’s the average length of time a property in Richmond is on the vacant property list? What’s the most likely outcome after a certain point?… Read more »

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
21 days ago
Reply to  Boz Boschen

Blight generally comes from hard economic times, which often, but not always, come from bad leadership and policies. When it isn’t a govt driving out business problem, it is more akin to macro forces that are like a Force of Nature. Richmond is still recovering from some things. Look for instruction at towns in WV or cities in Upstate NY, or Arkansas — even Quebec still has problems that started with the whole Seccesion push times, and also from a more French idea of taxation than other Provences. I remember seeing beautiful bldgs in historic areas of Montreal downtown all… Read more »

Boz Boschen
Boz Boschen
19 days ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

I don’t think we even have to look that far. Have you seen what Baltimore is doing now? https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/19ae8270476740408f3ec603a3c6e92d Richmond has had people moving in and driving demand, which is good overall, but we still have not made a plan to address vacancy and blight. The post-pandemic growth is generally creating a “donut” effect with a soft metro middle and the strongest growth in the outlying suburbs. That’s the national trend and we do see it here in the population growth. Richmond has so much potential as a mid-tier city if only we could help ourselves with thoughtful policy implementation.… Read more »

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
12 days ago
Reply to  Boz Boschen

Well….. the Left always likes to talk about “root causes” and I actually DO like to talk about them — there WAS a trend of people, at least some more of them than usual, being willing to move back into the urban cores — but it seems that all the 2020 nonsense really was Peak Idiocy that started well before 2020 with deBlasio and that vicious mayor in Chicago being the poster-children of the AOC “we hate successful people” mentality that sounds very similar to rural hatred of what were once known as “city slickers” Baltimore is a paragon of… Read more »