Industries Commercial Real Estate

Trolley tour visits some of Richmond’s newest close-in developments

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Print this page By Paula C. Squires




Who knew a public library could produce 1 million traffic visits a year?

That was one of the nuggets of information during a trolley tour Wednesday for commercial real estate professionals in Richmond. Sponsored by the Greater Richmond Association for Commercial Real Estate (GRACRE), the tour filled three trolley cars with nearly 100 people who came out to see some of Richmond’s newest projects.

First up was a stop at Libbie Mill in the 2300 block of Staples Mill Road in Henrico County. While the 80-acre development has nothing to show yet but mounds of dirt,
officials from CBRE/Richmond and developer Gumenick Properties gave an overview of the project.

The first phase of the mixed-use Libbie Mill is scheduled to be complete by summer of  2014. It will bring 20,000 square feet of office and the opening of a new retail player in the market, Southern Season, a 53,000, square-foot gourmet store, restaurant and cooking school.

As part of the project, Gumenick Properties donated three acres to Henrico County for a new, 60,000-square-foot library that will be built near a lake at the site.” This is a use that will bring in a lot of traffic visits a year,” noted Shane Finnegan, Gumenick’s director of development and construction.

One study of another recently opened public library found that it generated nearly 1 million traffic visits a year, volume that supports retail businesses, Finnegan added. 

Gumenick plans to move its headquarters to the site by October of 2014. Libbie Mill will include a second phase -- nearly 400 units of housing equally split between apartments sand attached town homes. 

The 10-year, $400 million plus project is going for the upscale market. “We’re trying to change the feel of Staples Mill Road,” Finnegan said.

At the second stop, the group got a chance to visit the Lamplighter coffee shop and the soon–to-open Isley Brewing Co. in Scott’s Addition.  Since 2005, developers have revitalized the Boulevard area north of  Richmond by redeveloping industrial and warehouse space into multi-family, retail and office uses.

Now, the biggest challenge is parking. ”We need more parking. We need to change the traffic design and the traffic flow,” said Brooks Stone, president of the Scotts Addition Business Association.

Just a few minutes from Scott’s Addition, the trolley stopped at the former Interbake Building off Broad Street where the aroma of fresh-baked cookies used to waft from the bakery. Renamed The Boulevard, the 250,000-square-foot building is being renovated into 178 apartments under a tax-credit program. Rebkee Partners is the lead developer on the project, which offers views of the new summer training camp for the Washington Redskins football team.

“It was completely unknown to us when we started this that the Redskins were going to put their summer training camp right outside our windows,” said Steve Leibovic, another developer in the project. “We definitely plan to include that in our marketing” he laughed.

The GRACRE group toured the building, which is still under construction. Scheduled to open in 2014, it is being designed to appeal to young working professionals and other people who want to live near the downtown area. The views from the sixth floor offered a bird’s eye view of the two Redskins’ training fields. An additional bonus was seeing what was left of the old ovens, dating back to the 1920s, where cookies used to be baked.   

The last stop was the Bon Secours Washington Redskins training Center, off Leigh Street. It opened in August for the team’s three-week summer training schedule. After seeing the locker room, training rooms and fields, the group headed back to another of the area’s newer businesses: Hardywood Park Craft Brewery on Ownby Lane for an after party.

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