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Pear Street project moving forward as five stories

A rezoning of the lot at 2801 East Main Street from the M-1 Light Industrial District to the B-5 Central Business District (which had been on and off the Planning Commission agenda for at least a year) was approved by the Commission yesterday.

From Ned Oliver at

A Richmond condo project at the base of Libby Hill initially pitched as being 13 to 16 stories tall advanced in a considerably shortened form Monday. The Richmond Planning Commission recommended approval of a zoning change that will allow the developers to construct a building for commercial or residential use that is no higher than five stories on the property at 2801 E. Main St. at the end of Tobacco Row.

The developers had originally sought a Special Use Permit to allow a 16-story building, which met vigorous opposition.



Originally proposed 16-story development


Paul 02/07/2017 at 8:58 AM

Didn’t they pitch this as a 10+ story development because something along the lines of “the economics won’t work otherwise”. But now we see the economics evidently work out just fine as 5 stories. Typical…

I’m not against taller buildings in Richmond. But Libby Hill is a special place. The city was named after Richmond on the Thames because of Libby Hill. So in this case I’m glad NIMBY-ism won out.

Steven Summerville 02/07/2017 at 10:47 AM


J 02/07/2017 at 11:20 AM

Why are you Richmonders so afraid of heights? Rich towns skyline is the closet thing to Baltimores inner harbor in the mid Atlantic region. Can’t Virginia just get it right and take the torch from is little sister Maryland for once and for all? It’s amazing how most of the major cities south of the mason Dixon have blown up and have there own major league teams ( atl, charlottle, bmore, no etc)… Why hasn’t the local government tried to lure some of those high tech jobs in northern Virginia to central Virginia ? It’s already so crowded up there…. Geez

Richard R 02/07/2017 at 11:46 AM

One problem with the ‘the numbers don’t work’ plea is that the numbers often work with time. I wish Richmond could reduce taxes on basements though, it would be a win win win if this 5 story building were on top of 2-3 stories, possibly parking, partly underground. The numbers really don’t work for basements on anything but very tall buildings, developers are not just whining when they say numbers don’t work if they don’t go higher. Hope this project goes well for the developer, this project could be great for Main Street.

R. 02/07/2017 at 1:10 PM

J. I really hope that is a sarcastic post otherwise you are sorely mistaken. Take a look around the city and see how construction looks. Most new builds whether in the Bottom, Churchill, Manchester, or Scott’s Addition (even in Henrico and Chesterfield) are low-rise; no more than the couple of stories this project is approved for. While you believe that this would support your theory, I am referencing the demand; it is not there because low-rise is an on-going trend. Large cities you reference are dense in population and lacking in land, therefore high-rises are needed; however, in NoVA and DC where there is availability they are building low-rise town centers. Residences in Richmond do not need to be high rises; they have re-purposed old high-rises to be residences but not new builds. Also, high-rises would not attract corporations as you suggest because the city has plenty of high-rise office space that is sitting vacant (i.e. James Center). The city already had numerous Fortune 500 companies headquartered here and that does not include Capital One, who technically is headquartered in McLean or that you have the Federal Reserve here. Furthermore, your reference to sporting is poor as your examples are of well established markets and have had sports teams for a long time (NO might be the closest comparison to Richmond but NO’s tourism likely exceeds Richmond). Richmond will always be a mid-level sports city because of it’s market area.

So instead of building a multi-storied structure that will sit vacant or block a view of the landscape (which is becoming more of Richmond’s thing), the city was smart and approved a more appropriate plan.

J 02/07/2017 at 3:34 PM

Well, I guess Richmond will never change. It will likely maintain a low 200k population within its city limits and a high murder rate, which is on pace for 108 by years end (saw that in the news this morning). Richmond so far this year is tied with New Orleans per capita rate and twice as high as DC and the overall crime rates in both Richmond and New Orleans is spiking higher than Chicago

Eric Huffstutler 02/07/2017 at 3:41 PM

I think there was a discussion before about utilizing Brown’s Island for a high rise? Also if you did not build a 15 story building on Pear, that the sq ft space will need to spread out to equal the loss of units within the height? I also wonder why Richmond is too ultra conservative when it comes to architecture in non protected areas? Why build a half dozen apartment buildings that look like prisons when you could build one 20-story building instead while saving the landscape from looking like Ukraine neighborhoods?

R. 02/07/2017 at 7:48 PM

So what does a low rise building have to do with crime? Eric, by building high rises you can fit more in less square footage, yes, but guess what that means, more bodies in a smaller place. If you all want to reference crime with such a small population (J) then let’s just build high rises on every possible plot and increase population and crowding. Then maybe it really would be a prison.

Juanito 02/08/2017 at 5:19 PM

Humm – couldn’t make money on less than 16 stories.

John M 02/09/2017 at 9:24 AM

Proposed Apartment Building in Church Hill, Reduced in Size, Moves Forward

Before the 7-2 vote, Josh Bilder spoke in opposition to the proposal for 2801 E. Main St., saying he represented the people of Church Hill.

“There’s still some unanswered questions,” he said of the project, known as Pear Street.

But the chairman of the Planning Commission, Rodney Poole, pushed back. “If Church Hill [Association] had opposition to this,” he said, “they would be here in force.”

Coqui 02/17/2017 at 10:53 AM

There is some confusion about how the five story’s are measured- is it five stories from main st? From Cary? Or a feet above sea level. The building across
Pear on main is five stories, taller than its neighbors but got through in a below-the-radar development some years ago.
Does any one know the height on main! At Cary st? At dock?

John M 03/14/2017 at 6:58 AM

Richmond City Council signs off on 5-story development at base of Libby Hill Park, ending long debate–story-development-at/article_d0aa61d3-5b79-5222-93f9-9780bb613d7a.html


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