Regions Central Virginia

Another luxury apartment project coming to downtown Richmond

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Two developers plan to convert the 12-story 700 Centre building into what will be downtown Richmond’s third high-end, luxury apartment project.

Richmond-based Genesis Properties, a developer of multi-family projects, is part of a joint venture with Virginia Beach-based Armada Hoffler on the $31 million project.

The office tower at 700 E. Franklin Street is near the state Capitol, where legislators annually gather for the Virginia General Assembly. Some legislators already pay to use the building’s parking garage, said Alex Olson, a Genesis project manager. “We might get some of the delegates who want a place to stay during the session,” he said.

The office building, constructed in 1913, is the former headquarters of Virginia Electric and Power Co., now known as Dominion Virginia Power. While Genesis and Armada Hoffler purchased the property two years ago for $7.2 million, it took a while to get the financing in place. “We pieced together the financing and the tax credits, so it looks like everything is going to fall into place,” said Olsen. Virginia Housing Development Authority is financing the project,  he added.

“We also had some tenants that we had to wait on. Everyone has moved out except for the VCU Partnership for Disability, and they will stay in the building.”

According to Olson, construction should begin on 174 apartments by May. Genesis expects the 175,000-square-foot project to be ready by late summer 2014. It will include 18,000 square feet of retail on the first floor, and it has a seven-story annex and an eight-story parking garage with 355 spaces.

This is the first major, high-end apartment project for Genesis, which typically does smaller projects, Olson said, including the recently completed American Heritage building, a 57-unit apartment building at 10th and Main streets in downtown Richmond.

“We feel good about it,” he said.  “We’re a block from the federal court building, directly across from the General Assembly, and we might be able to pull some tenants from MCV” (the Medical College of Virginia, now known as the VCU School of Medicine).

Just a few blocks away, the former John Marshall Hotel and First National Bank buildings already have been converted into high-end apartments that are looking to tap into a market of young professionals who want to live in downtown’s urban environment.

Asked if the market was getting too saturated, Olson said, “I would say it’s getting close, but our absorption rates are meeting what the market studies are saying.  Our occupancy is 95 percent or better in our entire portfolio” he said, referring to Genesis’ 1,300 apartments.

He said the company recently finished 100 units in the Manchester area of South Richmond and a building off Adam and Marshall Streets, and they are 100 percent leased.

At the 700 Centre, Olson said rental rates would range from $700 for a one-bedroom studio with about 500 square feet to $1,900 for a three-bedroom unit with 1,300 square feet.

Richmond-based MGT Construction will serve as general contractor while Walter Parks, also in Richmond, will be the architect.

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