Legend Brewing puts Manchester property up for sale

legend1 Cropped

Legend Brewing Co. has been in Manchester for 30 years. (BizSense file photos)

Legend Brewing Co. has put its Manchester real estate up for sale, leaving the future of Richmond’s oldest brewery up in the air. 

Its headquarters, brewing hub, pub and 1.3-acre parcel at 321 W. Seventh St. hit the market in recent days. The property is being marketed as a potential mixed-use redevelopment opportunity. Berkadia’s Drew White, Carter Wood and Cole Carns have the listing, which doesn’t include an asking price. 

The brewery remains open for business. Dave Gott, Legend’s vice president of operations, said the company absolutely plans “on trying to keep the (Legend) brand out there,” but that it is unsure what the future holds. 

Legend Dave Gott

Dave Gott

“We’re keeping all options open at the moment,” Gott said. 

Legend has been a neighborhood institution since its 1994 opening, long before the region’s craft beer boom took off in the early 2010s.

In addition to its flagship beers, including its Brown Ale and Pilsner, Legend also has become known for its patio and the view it offers of the downtown skyline.

But the neighborhood around Legend has changed drastically, particularly over the past decade, as residential development took off in Manchester. 

New luxury townhomes have risen just to the west, a six-story apartment building opened next door last year, and more development is on the way.

An additional 263 units are inbound to Legend’s south, while a pair of high-rises totaling 550 apartments are planned to the brewery’s north as part of a development that would partially block the downtown view from the brewery’s patio. 

All that construction, combined with a general slowdown in the craft beer industry, played a part in Legend’s decision to put its land up for sale, Gott said. 

“In the craft beer world sales are down for a lot of folks and we’ve had an issue with parking with all the construction going on. It’s been a little rough on the pub,” he said. “We’re still here, but it seems like right now we need to think of other options.”

Legend began laying the seeds for a possible move last fall when it filed to rezone its property to TOD-1, which allows for a mix of uses and has a height restriction of 12 stories. That process is still ongoing. 

Gott said at the time that the rezoning was preemptive to keep up with zoning changes in the neighborhood and did not portend a future sale, move or shuttering of the brewery.

legend brewery Cropped scaled

Legend filed to rezone its land to TOD-1, or Transit-Oriented Nodal district, last fall.

Legend has owned its property since 2011 when it bought it for $1.2 million. The city most recently assessed the parcel at $3.9 million. 

The sale listing states that Legend’s land could house a development with 11 stories of 300-plus apartment units above a few floors of below-grade parking. White from Berkadia said there’s a variety of potential uses for the property beyond apartments, like for-sale residential housing, retail or a hotel.

While the zoning that Legend is pursuing would allow for a mix of uses, Gott said the brewery wouldn’t necessarily be interested in being a tenant in a future development. 

Late last year Legend reduced much of its food menu and switched from being a brewpub into more of a pure brewery, a change that Gott said has gone well. 

“It’s been interesting to see. We’ve got a different crowd of people that have been coming in. I don’t think (the change) has hurt us at all,” he said. 

The Beach Co., the South Carolina-based developer that built the Eddy on the James apartment building southwest of Legend, is also behind the development that’s planned to replace the Thurston Spring Services facility at 326 W. Seventh St.

Beach Co. Development Manager Tim Cotter said the hope is to begin construction on the six-story development in late 2024 or early 2025. Demolition may begin much sooner. 

To the east of the Thurston site, at 201 W. Commerce Road, is the former Taylor & Parrish Construction that was once eyed for a high-rise development. That parcel is owned by Brent Graves, a former Taylor & Parrish co-owner, who put the 1-acre plot up for sale last summer. Graves said this week that his parcel is on the market.

Avery Hall Investments, the Brooklyn-based firm that’s working on the twin-tower development that’s planned for the land between Legend and the river, is finalizing its development’s design. Founding principal Brian Ezra said the company is aiming to begin construction within a year.

Note: This story has been updated to clarify the allowable development on the land and with input from Avery Hall Investments.

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Jeremy Connell
Jeremy Connell
17 days ago

Best of luck to Dave, Tom and the rest of the Legend crew as they navigate the changing markets. Legend Brewing has been such a great business and great neighbor in Manchester for 30+ years! Wow! That’s an impressive run for any business, especially a brewery in such a competitive environment. Congrats y’all! I look forward to getting mug #37 filled with their Brown Ale wherever Legend lands for the next 30.

Rick Jarvis
Rick Jarvis
17 days ago

An end to an institution. A visionary business on a visionary site. Well played. I hope whoever acquires the site honors Legend’s legacy. But progress relentlessly marches on and I’m shocked that Legend hasn’t sold the site already. I know Richmonders will be sad to see Legend move … hopefully they will stick nearby. Good luck to the Legend team.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
17 days ago
Reply to  Rick Jarvis

Do they have an off-site brewing location? I think I might remember that the might….

Craig Davis
Craig Davis
16 days ago
Reply to  Rick Jarvis

While I’m not “anti” development, I also don’t see every change or move through a development lens. This without a doubt sucks for people who have lived in the city for a while. Heck, I don’t even like craft beer; thankfully, its not a requirement to appreciate Legend and enjoy all that Richmond is and has been from that deck.

Jeff Ensley
Jeff Ensley
17 days ago

The City needs to take the reins in riverside development before it’s too late, lest the lack of planning turn the riverfront into what the Canal Walk became once Carmax was allowed to buy the Lady Byrd Hat Building. The City wanted development and activity on the Canal but clearly had no requirements for the type of use allowed there. If we get more apartments with no retail/restaurant space addressing the river (like the new Costar building thankfully has), we will end up with a shiny glass wall, visually cutting off the majority of Richmonders from the river.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
17 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Ensley

Hysteria.

First off, while the view from Legends is nice, I hardly think that side and area are where Richmonders access the river and the places they DO will likely always be there, no matter how well Richmond does in the Future.

As far as the Canal went a while back, the phrase “beggers can’t be choosers” comes to mind — RIchmond is increasingly not a beggar any more.

George Macguffin
George Macguffin
17 days ago

Soon, all that will exist is the legend. Very apropos.
A city of very few charms will have one less. But they will have plenty of nondescript apartment towers.
Progress.

Last edited 17 days ago by George Macguffin
Justin Ranson
Justin Ranson
17 days ago

Very few charms?

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
17 days ago

Hey! Richmond has a LOT of charms. It even had them before their revival really started getting going around 2010.

Not wanting to dis Legend but RIchmond now has an embarrassment of small places to drink.

The increase in housing in downtown Richmond will mean even more charming places will be sustainable.

Scott Burger
Scott Burger
17 days ago

Sad news. Legend really was an early microbrew place before most people in the country knew what a ‘microbrewery’ even was. I enjoy their beer, and their leaving Manchester may be a sign for other old Richmonders to refine their exit strategy. This place is becoming increasingly less cool and certainly less hospitable. The government and developers want us out so they can exploit and exploit some more.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
17 days ago
Reply to  Scott Burger

I was wondering why the downvotes until I go to the end — yes, y’all should move on, and I don’t say that aggressively even, since people like me may move on to a more “value” location. The bitterness is unwarrented, you came to Richmond after a downcycle and should not be unhappy that Richmond has recovered. I think you would really dig Pitsburgh, like RIchmond in the 90s, Pittsburgh was long abandoned by the sorts of people who built it — now, thanks to legacy things like Carniegie-Mellon (the U, not the builders) things are coming back but still… Read more »

Scott Burger
Scott Burger
16 days ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

You don’t know me or anything really. Telling people to ‘move on’ does not help anyone or anything. But it does seem to be the prevailing sickness these days. Forget about real value, just move on, people are told.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
16 days ago
Reply to  Scott Burger

What don’t I know about you? I don’t know ANYTHING? Are you being deliberate in mischaracterizing what I said regarding you “moving on”? Or is this just how you are wired to interpret things? Scott, I was essentially saying that it may be time for a LOT of people who liked Richmond at a certain point in time, or who like to take advantage of certain transient conditions to move on to the next Happy Hunting Grounds. “Prevailing Sickness [THESE DAYS????]” — more like universal truth man — having the flexibility of mind to go after what will make one… Read more »

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
16 days ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

To be clear: it’s a big world. There are PLENTY of places that are a lot like Richmond in the 80s and 90s. Richmond is becoming more like a place like Austin, TX in the 1980s, which is becoming a bit like San Fransisco in the 1970s – but there are currently places that have hit rock bottom and have nowhere to go but up — Newark, NJ, Macon, GA, St. Louis, BALTIMORE — and then there are places that seem to be making strides that resemble Richmond in the circa 2000 — Cincinatti, Pittsburgh.

Peter James
Peter James
13 days ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

And then you have places that have been free-falling for more than 70 years and STILL have yet to hit rock bottom – namely Detroit. The metro area is growing just fine – but the city has lost a staggering 67% of its population – going from 1.85 million in 1950 to an estimated 603,000 in 2024 – a mind-boggling loss of nearly 1.3 million residents. All the while the Detroit metro area continues growing apace. Shawn – good analogy re: Richmond vis a vis Austin. I’ve heard others who have lived in both cities make the comparison, and in… Read more »

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
12 days ago
Reply to  Peter James

Hi Peter! Yes, Austin. I remember I had a rather depressive German friend who was an English major at my Uni in a northern tier State capital and I would resent how he would talk about Austin — EVERYTHING was BETTER in Austin, the energy, the music, the girls were more beautiful, and FRIENDLIER, the food…. this was like 1990 or so…., Austin has changed a LOT since then — I had a lot of friends move to Austin, one who was able to buy a SFH walking distance from UT in the late 90s right after he got his… Read more »

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
17 days ago

More than 2000 apartments are planned to be built within 1/4mile of Legends. You’d think an enterprising restaurant group would see some opportunities in that young crowd. I’ve heard they like beer.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
17 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

Thank you Bruce for scooping this story for us (Legends site). As far as your opinion about the beer business goes, well, the real estate market it very much in a virtuous cycle right now. MAYBE there’s even a site nearby, maybe a new life in the Florida Keys or Libson is calling. The beer market is tight, crowded — and I have heard that young people, and people generally, are drinking less. That includes me — I used to drink about two drinks a day, now rarely in a week — though still mostly beer. But I am getting… Read more »

Bob Tunstall
Bob Tunstall
17 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

As a local I am envious of the folks from places like NOVA, NY, and Philly who will be able to afford these luxury towers that will be out of my price range. The views of the sewage treatment plant and the highway will surely be breathtaking.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
16 days ago
Reply to  Bob Tunstall

I think your snarky inferiority complex has a geographic glitch in it. The views there, whoever lives there (I think the people you reference tend to buy Single family homes, BTW) will tend to be only marred by the 1980s drabness of the Richmond skyline, which will likely dramatically improve when SOME co takes advantage of the opportunity to build a truly landmark marquee tower — it would be the most visible building on all of 95, I think.

Peter James
Peter James
16 days ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

The day that some company relocates here and builds an epic, landmark, marquee skyscraper downtown can’t come soon enough for me, though (and I will admit being cynical and quite embittered here) at age 61 I seriously doubt I’ll live to see it. I recently stumbled into a photo of downtown Charlotte taking from Truist Field (their minor-league baseball stadium) and the view of what has become a truly epic skyline nearly knocked me out of my chair with envy. What I would give for downtown RVA to have not just such tall and iconic towers but also the sheer… Read more »

Last edited 16 days ago by Peter James
Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
16 days ago
Reply to  Peter James

Thank you for making me not so much a Voice in the Wilderness here. Yes, The Frog in the Well Knows Nothing of the Great Ocean, and that sort of applies to all of us. I tell people in depressed northern tier locations that they don’t know what they are missing in places like, say, Richmond — and they say “RICHMOND???!!!” Like it is like Alabama. Alabama is not even like Alabama any more. Yeah, Charlotte is a trip, ain’t it? Even a mere layover at the airport can give people a sense that they’ve been missing out. I remember… Read more »

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
16 days ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

BTW, you can’t even SEE the Chrysler Bldg much anymore these days — it seems they build a taller bldg in midtown now every year….

Patrick Sullivan
Patrick Sullivan
17 days ago

As already stated, what a sad day for Richmond! One of the first places I was brought to when I moved from NY in 2004 was the deck at Legends. Many spring, summer and fall days and nights have been spent there since. I wish Dave and the legends crew the best – thank you for all the great memories!! Looking forward to seeing what the next chapter holds. Mug 367

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
17 days ago

Awh… I feel bad for any one who had a real loyalty to a place. I was sad when Skipping Rock, a favorite of mine (another # mug place) closed recently.

Hey, I moved here from NYS in 2003 but my heart was hurt back during the GFC when the iteration of RIchbrau that was in Shokoe Slip (really classy bldg and finishings, game room, etc) closed. Richmond only had three then, and after the GFC there was just Richbrau standing.

At least this seems to be a positive story!

Mike Ryan
Mike Ryan
17 days ago

Legend Brewing is our favorite spot to finish off a long bike ride. Hit the Capital Trail then cycle over to Manchester. Best views of the city with a beer and German pretzel (topped with spicy mustard of course) while overlooking the skyline. Will definitely be missed if it closes. Get there before it’s gone…that place has been a fantastic institution long before Manchester was the happening place it is now. In the 1990’s it was tough & rough. Remember Spaghetti Warehouse? Legend’s has stood by Richmond for 3 decades! Keep on pouring!!!

John Baron
John Baron
17 days ago

Once a Legend, now a B-school case study.

Dan Kern
Dan Kern
17 days ago

The OG!! I do hope Legend resurfaces as they’ve been a great partner for RVA craft beer fans over the last few decades. Truly wishing everyone at Legend the best of luck and that we will see you again in the (very) near future.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
17 days ago
Reply to  Dan Kern

Yeah, I think Legend never got the respect it deserved in the last 15 years. I was once in Galaxy Diner years ago and I asked why their Legends Brown was not on their “Local” list — I told this to a guy who was looking for a Richmond location for his (now existing) craft alcohol place and he rolled his eyes about hipsters and their obsessions with “small” and “new” over business sustainability.

Christopher Harrell
Christopher Harrell
17 days ago

Best wishes on your next chapter! Manchester has changed quite a bit since I first started working there 20 years ago. The area has great momentum and I hope to see it continue. As for Legends, though I don’t work in Manchester any more, I still drop by from time to time. I hope to see you continue your legacy.

Scott Boyers
Scott Boyers
17 days ago

These guys were the pioneers that led the way for Manchester to become the “cool” place it has become, in my view. But the vision for that parcel has now evolved and the highest and best use with it. Congrats on such a great run.

Hoping to see a new site in the near future. And hoping Legends Brown Ale will be around for a long time to come.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
17 days ago
Reply to  Scott Boyers

Yes. Legends and that Scooter garage/store were it when I moved to Richmond in 2003. What happened to the Scooter lady that ran that?

Brett Hunnicutt
Brett Hunnicutt
16 days ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

They relocated to Midlothian Turnpike and also sell motorcycles.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
16 days ago

Thank you!

Shawn Glerum
Shawn Glerum
17 days ago

Here is to three decades of memories and the unforgettable times spent on the patio with a pint of Brown Ale. Legend Brewing has been more than simply a brewery; it’s been a cornerstone, gathering place for the community.

I look forward to enjoying the time left at this location and am hopeful the Legend will continue on, whether it is here or somewhere else.

Cheers to the entire team. May your journey ahead be filled with new adventures and endless possibilities.

Andy Ballentine
Andy Ballentine
17 days ago

First, Isley and now, Legend. Makers of great beer, but subject to intense market forces. I do hope Brown Ale will continue. Isley licensed their Choosy Mother; is it being made available anywhere?

Richard Rumrill
Richard Rumrill
17 days ago

Andy, Callao brewing in the Northern Neck bought and sells Choosy Mother beer.

Andy Ballentine
Andy Ballentine
17 days ago

Yes. I just haven’t seen it around. Maybe I haven’t been to the right stores.

Adam Lee
Adam Lee
17 days ago

Cashing out

Dave Fahy
Dave Fahy
17 days ago

Legend Brewing is a pure Richmond classic! So many fun times with friends on the deck looking at the city skyline and enjoying great craft beer. Thriving communities need a place like Legend for the community to gather and socialize. Wishing Legend the best in the future!

Patrick Carollo
Patrick Carollo
17 days ago

In the last 20 years I have enjoyed some great drinks and views of the city from their patio. Met some great people and dogs there! Mixed use is a great way to keep both the neighborhood hopping with good food and drink while filling the need of more housing in Manchester. I hope Legend keeps serving Brown Ale wherever they go as it is one of the best,

Mark Fleckenstein
Mark Fleckenstein
16 days ago

My wife and I first visited Legend a few weeks of its opening when it was just downstairs with 15 seats. We watched it expand into the parking lot and then upstairs. We always felt it was a place for families and went as a family almost every Sunday evening while the boys were growing up. The kids played darts, did their homework, and learned about behaving well in a public place. We probably went to Legend over a thousand times. Many of the waitstaff knew us by name. Our mugs are second generation. The beer is the best in… Read more »

Brian Glass
Brian Glass
17 days ago

Beer sales are down everywhere. According to my restaurant sources cocktails are in! In my opinion it’s a savvy decision to sell when the value of their property is at a highpoint.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
16 days ago
Reply to  Brian Glass

Yeah, I agree with all of this.

George MacGuffin
George MacGuffin
17 days ago

Always a silver lining to be found. One less pointlessly symbolic Ukraine flag. Perhaps property sale profits and/or people will be headed over to join “the cause”. Yet I have a feeling “support” is window-dressing deep.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
16 days ago

The silver lining might be that outside money comes into Richmond to buy the site, and the owners may reinvest that money here. That often IS what happens in a the virtuous part of a real estate cycle.

Lee Thomas
Lee Thomas
15 days ago

How would you define “pointlessly symbolic”? You are aware that they actually raised money (proceeds of a limited edition beer, that sort of thing) for the Ukraine relief effort? I wasn’t, but a quick Google search was all it took.

Perhaps that’s just virtue signaling, sure – but that’s your silver lining, less virtue signaling? That seems pretty trivial compared to, say, the development potential of the site, the possibility of Legend relocating, etc.

Brian Seay
Brian Seay
17 days ago

Right after college I lived on Bainbridge street. We’d walk down there for sunday fundays, eat, play darts, have a couple of beers. Unfortunate this is leaving, however they fell behind the times (new beers, brewers, etc) and their game plan seemed to be playing catch up instead of taking advantage of being first to market.

Legend will be missed – Keep your Oktoberfest around, it’s delicious.

Paul D. Mashack
Paul D. Mashack
17 days ago

Sadly, this seemed inevitable. In a few years this spot will make way for more high-end condos.

David Humphrey
David Humphrey
17 days ago

I see a future apartment building name “The Legend”…

Greg Provo
Greg Provo
17 days ago

Legend Brewery led the way in the turn around of the Old Manchester neighborhood and have been outstanding neighbors continuously investing in the growth of the community. They have the best view in the city to have a pint for sure. I wish them all the best and hope they don’t 86 my mug.

Brent Graves
Brent Graves
16 days ago

This is sad news for Richmond and Manchester. Hopefully Legend’s will be able to see their way clear to be able to carry-on their 30-year Richmond tradition in Manchester; just like they did as an urban pioneer back in 1994. Manchester still needs a destination and “anchor-type” Restaurant with an outdoor atmosphere with concurrent views of both the James River as well as the downtown Richmond skyline! If Legend’s moves, it makes me wonder if this would be an opportunity for Richmond to have a Stone Brewing Bistro & Gardens in Manchester?… similar to the Stone Bistro at Liberty Station… Read more »

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
16 days ago
Reply to  Brent Graves

Maybe. But it just could be that when Stone came to Richmond it unconsciously marked “Peak Beer” — they were kind of the last of the Big West Coast Beers to have an “East Coast HQ” and really overextended themselves (watch the documentary on the founder’s Berlin saga….it’s kind of a gentle version of the hubris one gets when one’s talents are augmented by long having the wind at one’s back. I listened to the founder of Sierra Nevada years ago being interviewed on How I Built this and he had to endure a LOT of pain multiple times in… Read more »

Justin Reynolds
Justin Reynolds
12 days ago

I always loved the beer, which was great, and then the service would remind me why I rarely went to Legends. They had a strong run and clearly they’re closing to cash out on their prime real estate—I cannot blame them.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
11 days ago

100%