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Pear Street on the table again

Jonathan Spiers of Richmond BizSense has word on new movement towards development at the Pear Street location that was so controversial back in 2013/2014:

Developer Louis Salomonsky is seeking to rezone two 0.75-acre parcels at the foot of Libby Hill: 2801 E. Main St., along the south side of Pear Street, and 2825 E. Main St., on the south side of Peach Street, a small street that is part of the Lofts at Shiplock Watch apartments.

The two properties, separated by the Lofts at Shiplock Watch, are both proposed for rezoning from M-1 light industrial district to B-5C central business district conditional. The change would allow for residential dwellings and commercial uses not permitted in industrial zoning districts.

Because the proposed use of the land did not match the zoning of the property, a previous proposal for development on the Pear Street lot would have required Special Use Permit (SUP)or the project to be built.

The land is currently zoned M-1 Light Industrial, which does not allow residential uses and limits building to 45 feet in height except under certain specific circumstances. The earlier proposal was to build a 16-story building, with up to 65 condominiums.

Developer David White said at the time that the only way that the project will work financially was if they were allowed the extra height.

Rocketts View SCP LP bought the property in December of 2001 for $131,250. The 2002 the property was assessed at $40,900. The assessment jumped to $197,000 in 2007 and then to $750,000 in 2013.


Hill Runner 12/02/2015 at 9:09 AM

According to the zoning ordinance, B-5 still only allows 5 stories up to a height of ~50-80 ft. Is B-5C different?

Steven H 12/02/2015 at 9:10 AM

So what is the max height people will accept? 15 stories, 10 stories, 5 stories? I am thinking it is a good place for a signature building at the end of Pear Street. Perhaps 7 or 8 stories so that it is a little higher than what is around it, but not obnoxiously so. Also, please be realistic that it does cost money to develop a property and there needs to be a return on that investment. It would be nice to have some of the holes in the urban fabric filled in.

Steven H 12/02/2015 at 9:10 AM

Sorry, meant the end of Cary.

Alex 12/02/2015 at 9:37 AM

“Developer David White said at the time that the only way that the project will work financially was if they were allowed the extra height.”

Shouldn’t he have thought of that before buying the property? This kind of stuff feels like hostage taking to me. If you buy a property, you shouldn’t be entitled to a rezoning just because you bought under the impression you could make a quick buck if you got it rezoned.

Mike 12/02/2015 at 10:32 AM

Alex: there’s nothing “quick buck” about rezoning anything. There’s also nothing “quick buck” about real estate development in general. I am making no particular judgements about this project at all nor am I defending this particular developer. But in general these are people that are pouring millions and millions of dollars into our community. Sure we may not like some of their projects. But the good (getting rid of blight, adding density, improving infrastructure, adding to the tax base, bringing businesses into our area, creating places where people actually WANT and DESIRE to live) far outweigh any negatives from most of the projects we’ve seen here.

Hill Runner 12/02/2015 at 10:57 AM

The conditions proposed for 2825 East Main Street would limit the building height to 38 feet above Peach Street. With the exception of staircases, elevators, and mechanical equipment.

JW 12/02/2015 at 11:16 AM

@4 Alex: Word.

G. 12/02/2015 at 12:34 PM

@ 4 Alex

“If you buy a property, you shouldn’t be entitled to a rezoning just because you bought under the impression you could make a quick buck if you got it rezoned.”

May we also apply your thoughtful assertion to 2623 E. Broad Street?

Eric S. Huffstutler 12/02/2015 at 1:50 PM

To inject something here. Whatever happened to the possible proposals about developing Mayo Island with a high-rise?

There are some areas that just fall into a different category when it comes historic preservation. There are void or under utilized land that can be developed into modern high-rises outside of the central downtown area. If everyone was to stand on the old NIMBY mentality then we would all still be living on farms because nothing would get developed. I am sure people along Libby Hill and the surrounding areas also had issues with tobacco warehouses going up in their back yards but they did and now 100-150 years later they are upscale housing. How ironic.

neighbor 12/02/2015 at 6:31 PM

Thank you Mike and Eric for theses comments. So good to see reason and economic foresight being brought to this duscussion. With large wish list so many have in the city as far as projects, none of them will get completed without an increase in the taxable property base in the city.

Alex 12/03/2015 at 7:59 AM

@8 – so running a coffee shop that gives back to the neighborhood for years = trying to flip a vacant lot?

Not sure I follow the connection other than one paid their dues and then asked for some help in return. I agree neither should be entitled to a rezoning if that’s what you’re getting at.

And man do you need to move on…

Alex 12/03/2015 at 8:04 AM

@5 – I think you took my statement as a blanket attack on developers and responded with a generic defense of development. I don’t disagree with your points but I was discussing this specific situation.

This guy bought the land cheap and is now trying to hold the city hostage unless he gets the right to build something that he should never have had any expectations that he’d be allowed to build when he bought. It’s not government’s role to guarantee he can make a buck.

Steven H 12/03/2015 at 8:45 AM

Alex, How are they trying to hold the City hostage? They are asking for a rezoning. They are not saying if you don’t we’ll put a smokestack there. It is zoned industrial, so would you like to see industrial there? If not then they would need to rezone. What people would be willing to support them rezoning to should be the debate, not if they can rezone at all.

G. 12/03/2015 at 9:24 AM

@ 12 Alex

There is a disconnect – you referenced a tenant. I am pointing out that both “property owners” (all property owners) know the zoning restrictions at the time of purchase. And we both agree that no property owner is entitled to a re-zoning. (But one can always put in a request with the city.) I was merely asking whether your statement could strictly be applied; or are you one to selectively make such assertions…apparently, there is wiggle room.

neighbor 12/03/2015 at 9:24 AM

Alex: It’s in the city’s broader interest to develop the Pear Street property in a way that will bring in the highest tax revenue. Maintaining some view shed for a few privileged people that live near Libby Hill park is not the answer.

This on going debate is a great example of a vocal minority stopping the progress of Richmond moving towards a Tier 1 city.

Gretta 12/03/2015 at 10:38 AM

@16 – it’s not just a “few privileged people that live near Libby Hill park” – have you ever seen how many people enjoy the park? People from all over the neighborhood, and even from other parts of Richmond/the world come over to enjoy the views there. It’s in no way, shape, or form, a fight between “privileged people” and non-privileged people. It’s quite the opposite actually – a choice between a shared community resource (the park’s views) and the few people who would live in the new condo building.

Mike 12/03/2015 at 10:52 AM

#16: right! And let’s not forget the vocal minority who will object ANY development project if they think they’ll have a 10% harder time parking right next to their house, god forbid.

Aud 12/03/2015 at 12:45 PM

@16 – “Maintaining some view shed for a few priviledged people that live near Libby Hill park is not the answer.”

SERIOUSLY? What an absurd comment.

Steven H 12/03/2015 at 1:13 PM

Gretta, Agreed that is likely more than just the people living adjacent to the park, but saying foreign people come just to enjoy those views is going way too far and actually weaken your argument. Yes, they did come for the bike race, but that wasn’t for the view of the river, that was for the view of the cobbles.

15 stories, yes too high, but what is it people think would be OK? Let’s get a conversation going about what would be acceptable versus a conversation of what shouldn’t go there. Let’s accept they should rezone it to something other than industrial and figure out what would be the best thing. Be positive not negative.

Don't believe the hype 12/03/2015 at 1:40 PM

Church Hill! Wake up! You’re arguing about minusha while the view from the park is in the process of being blocked by our city planning department and developers focused on turning a view that is free now into a view enjoyed only by a privileged few. Take heed these men are highly intelligent and most of the posts seem as though they are justifying the selling of our cultural and historic resources.

crd 12/03/2015 at 2:25 PM

@20 Steven H, Gretta is correct, there are people from all over including tour buses that stop for that view. I have been there when buses went and parked and tourists got out to see the view. It’s not a city bus stop, those are tourists on those buses.

How many of you folks are planning to go to either the Planning Commission meeting or the council meeting that will hear this issue? It’s easy to sit here and post on a blog, takes more energy (and commitment) to attend a meeting. Just sayin’…

jean mcdaniel 12/05/2015 at 8:48 AM

John Murden
Under calendar of events, could you start posting CAR, Planning, and any other meetings that the community should know about and may want to attend?

Paul S 12/15/2015 at 9:26 AM

While I’m not often persuaded by the view argument in general… this is Libby Hill Park and essentially “The View that Named Richmond.” In this particular case it is certainly worth preserving.


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