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Union Hill projects get go-ahead from CAR

Two large developments along the edge of Union Hill were given the go-ahead this past Tuesday by the Commission of Architectural Review.

A mixed-use commercial and residential building on the triangle between Jefferson Avenue, M Street, and 24th Street (ABOVE) was finally given approval after a few trips before CAR. The approval comes with a few conditions: doors be included at the corner of M and North 24th Street; the design for the structure at the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and M Street be the alternate design; and the design for the remainder of the structure be the original proposal.

The Better Housing Coalition residential project at the Citadel of Hope on Venable Street (BELOW) was approved with the following conditions: a dimensioned parapet detail for the 2 story building be provided for administrative review and approval; the 3 story buildings be clad in lighter shades of brick to relate to the 2 story building; the applicant work with CAR staff, Land Use Admnistration staff, and Department of Public Works staff during the Plan of Development Review to address potentital concerns with the encroachment in the Carrington Street right of way in a manner that maintains the pedestrian orientation of the Carrington Street elevation; the siding be smooth and un-beaded; and the windows be simulated or true divided lite.


Citadel of Hope (2230 Venable Street)

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Jacob C.


Chris 03/03/2017 at 8:12 AM

Unbelievable. The committee responsible for preserving the historical nature of the neighborhood approve two projects that look like they belong in Short Pump next to a Cheesecake Factory. All the while giving current residents grief over things like the color of paint or the presence of shutters. Good luck to Roosevelt and Sub Rosa, no one will be able to come to your establishments anymore since they will need to park 4 blocks away.

William Bagby 03/03/2017 at 8:34 AM

I’m kinda iffy on the Jefferson project. It looks so out of place. The Venable project is spot on though! They did a great job on that design

Debra Miller 03/03/2017 at 8:46 AM

I lived in Church Hill for two years and loved it because there were no buildings like this, and only locally owned businesses. If a Star Bucks or Chipotle move in, Church Hill is over. So glad I experienced it before corporate gentrification ruins everything.

animal lover 03/03/2017 at 8:57 AM

CAR can kiss my ass now!!! This ugly modern piece of crap is being built and you want to argue with me over windows??

ST 03/03/2017 at 9:00 AM

LOVE THIS! Excited about the density and the height. Excited to see that empty lot become something – it’s been an eyesore and nuisance for decades.

Corinne 03/03/2017 at 9:06 AM

Part of why I moved to Church Hill is being able to walk from my home to great businesses like Sub Rosa and Union Market. I’m excited for these developments and the increased urban density they’ll bring (plus more variety in businesses my friends and I can walk to)

Kay9 03/03/2017 at 9:21 AM

Is the rendering an accurate depiction of the final product? I hope not…it’s not attractive…at all.

Boring, uninspired and ill-fitting.

Holly 03/03/2017 at 9:23 AM

Truly hideous and nothing like what Union Hill looks like. Please keep Union Hill charming. I tried to paint my door bright pink and CAR said no, but somehow they allow this. They’re so corrupt.

Matt Conrad 03/03/2017 at 9:34 AM

The Commission acted wisely in approving both of these designs, even though they are less than perfect. I would have preferred more green space and engagement with the street on Jefferson; I would have preferred less massing, better materials, mixed income/ownership, and interior parking on Venable. But this is a classic case of the perfect being the enemy of the good.

CAR demanded improvements in the BHC project with the community and achieved about as much as was politically possible. Better Housing Coalition was at the ready with likely Council support to override CAR if they had denied the Venable Street project this week. Had CAR denied the project and been over turned by Council, the project would have reverted back to where it started: an ugly hardiboard mass of a tenement. Moreover, the Commission would have been neutered and incapable of protecting us in the future having squandered any political capital with Council.

I think it was a Marbury v. Madison moment for the Commission and they acted wisely given all of the dynamics.

Joseph 03/03/2017 at 9:45 AM

LOVE THIS! I’m so glad to see more density coming to Union Hill.

This is going to be great for our property value and is going to provide even more customers to local businesses. The increased customer base will hopefully attract new businesses as well.

The best part of the design? I don’t see a single parking space! I would much rather have a new restaurant than a new parking lot. Not to mention that parking lots bring property value down.

If you want parking, move to suburbs.

BigDaddyLongKnob 03/03/2017 at 9:50 AM

Why can’t richmond developers just make normal apartments for once. Instead of these weird ass looking building popping up all over town. Trying too hard to be modern

Victoria McGovern 03/03/2017 at 9:50 AM

So out of place. Go. To. Short Pump.

Kiera Rooker 03/03/2017 at 10:00 AM


Kay9 03/03/2017 at 10:02 AM

@9 An appropriate choice of words: “neutered and incapable of protecting us in the future”. This looks like what has happened here…the future is now. What is CAR’s purpose if it cannot prevent irresponsible development in historic districts?

The Jefferson project is a hideous example of something that should never have been permitted in Union Hill. It completely disrespects it’s surroundings on multiple levels.

Jessica Shook 03/03/2017 at 10:05 AM

I’m kind of baffled at the level of surprise here. Have y’all not been watching this style of architecture slowly creep up the Hill from all sides? I mean look at what’s going in one block from St. John’ssomething that looks very similar in style to this with no parking thought of and with a style that reeks of cheap, new modern "charm."

Holly 03/03/2017 at 10:17 AM

It’s just so cookie cutter, I can’t stand it…

Lee 03/03/2017 at 10:28 AM

CAR actually requires that new construction NOT BE HISTORICALLY ACCURATE. New constructions and additions in historic districts be “compatible but differentiated.” This ensures relatively mediocre design, as the architects and developers involved cannot use historicist styles or any significant amount of period appropriate decorative elements. I believe this comes not from CARs internal guidelines, but National Park Service guidelines. This is presumably based on academic ideas about false historicism. Anyway, the end result is that CAR does exactly the opposite of what the commission is logically expected to do, at least when new construction is involved.

If anyone wants to petition CAR to change these idiotic guidelines, I’d be eager to help any way I could.

Havis L. Wright 03/03/2017 at 10:30 AM

Seems like a lot of this clientele is already parking along Leigh and either side of M along 25th which this won’t really change.

WA Bowie 03/03/2017 at 10:33 AM

Disgust =/= surprise

ray 03/03/2017 at 10:48 AM

Lot of complaints on this thread but how many of you voiced you concerns when it mattered?

Did you attend any of the CAR meeting or express you opinions to Newbille?

Just as I suspected……crickets.

But guess what? It ain’t a done deal until Council votes YES on this thing so quit the bitchin’ and let all 9 members of Council know what you think.

Either that of STFU.

Kay9 03/03/2017 at 10:50 AM

@ Jessica. Curious- Which project are you referring to: “one block from St. John’s”

John M 03/03/2017 at 10:53 AM

@ray – for clarification, why would either of these projects need to go before Council?

L 03/03/2017 at 10:57 AM

@20 and @22 – Doesn’t the building on Jefferson need to go before the Board of Zoning Appeals as well? How many units/how much density/how many floors are actually permitted by right on this lot?

urbngrilla 03/03/2017 at 11:17 AM

Yes, the Jefferson Ave/25th Street building requires a Special Use Permit (SUP) b/c UB zoning tops out a 28ft, and this design exceeds it. There may be a couple other UB zoning issues with this, too.

Next step is working with zoning staff (headed by Mike Olinger) and then presentation to the Planning Commission (which votes on the SUP) followed by Council Vote to approve the SUP.

The Venable Street/BHC/Citadel project meets R63 zoning requirements, so it does not require Planning Commission or City Council approval.

Juli 03/03/2017 at 11:39 AM

R.I.P. Family Market. I wonder what Cheech is up to, is he running any business still in Church/ Union Hill?

Timothy 03/03/2017 at 11:51 AM

Where did they take architectural cues for the Jeff development from, East Germany? The rendering at the top of this article makes the bldg look like a derelict barge parked in the midst of an otherwise bright and cheerful city-scape. Was that rendering meant to garner support for the project? That has to be the most dour residential wreckage I’ve seen since the 18th & Broad catastrophe. I just hope they implement some of the greenery that was proposed in the last rendering to salvage something. This does not bode well for the Cedar & Marshall lot, or the neighborhood as a whole.

Don’t get me wrong, I support this project, and other projects like it. I believe a healthy mixture of contemporary architecture ultimately offsets the historic elements of these neighborhoods beneficially. Not to mention we desperately need the density for all kinds of reasons. But this is just ugly – not because it’s contemporary, but because it’s uninspired (See W. Broad Village in Short Pump, see the Courtyard Marriott in Shockoe, aforementioned 18th & Broad, and practically every new high-density in Manchester). Classic money factory aesthetics that in 5 years will carry the timeless charm of a botched plastic surgery. It’s sad that developers who supposedly have a stake in these neighborhoods can’t dream bigger.

ray 03/03/2017 at 1:12 PM

I might have to eat my words on that particular, John M, but like #24 said, I thought it required Council approval due SUP status.

John M 03/03/2017 at 1:23 PM

@ray – You’re right, it does. I can’t keep track of the details some times, there so much going on these days.

Thomas J. Alleman 03/03/2017 at 1:46 PM

Are there no historical architects in this town.

Katy Johnson 03/03/2017 at 1:48 PM

I don’t like it. It’s ugly and will look even uglier in 10 years.

Thomas 03/03/2017 at 2:01 PM

Call them up and truly let them know how you feel. This is a bad precedent being set if these types of projects get to be built.

Jessica Shook 03/03/2017 at 2:01 PM

Fair point, Bowie!

Jessica Shook 03/03/2017 at 2:05 PM

@21 I’m talking about the mixed residential and commercial construction going on at 24th and E. Marshall.

They’ve incorporated the old Nolde garage, which, yes, is a lovely touch, but the rest (from the pictures) is shaping up to be very much in the vein of the sleek-modern.

BAF 03/03/2017 at 2:15 PM

Both developments, especially the one on Jefferson, are better than what is there now. Matt Conrad is right. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

The only reason I can see for Council to deny the SUP is if someone else proposes–and has the funds to follow through–a development plan that is more in lines with the current architecture in the neighborhood. The Jefferson Avenue project will add additional tax revenue versus the current use of the property at a time when the City can’t seem to balance the books and is considering a tax hike on ALL of us. The property isn’t doing anyone much good in its current form other than perhaps to be a vector for vermin. The SUP is appropriate in the absence of someone with the money coming forward to propose an alternative–and a willingness of the current deedholder to sell to the proposer.

ray 03/03/2017 at 2:34 PM

I’ve read several comments about problems with density, parking, architectural appropriateness, etc. so I’m curious what the businesses around the Jefferson Ave. proposal think?

Sub Rosa, The Roosevelt, Union Market, Dear Neighbor — what are your thoughts? Do you think this proposal will help or hurt your businesses?

John M?

frankp 03/03/2017 at 3:18 PM

I’m glad they are leaving that awesome power line/telephone pole smack dab in the front. Historical!

But seriously, I fully support a revision of CAR guidelines to ALLOW new construction to use historic building styles and methods. The half-assery that arises from complimentary-but-not-mimicry is just terrible.

Chris Dosier 03/03/2017 at 3:27 PM

Havis L. Wright 30 new cars is not going to change the parking situation? As someone who lives on 700 block of 24th, I invite you to come try to park anywhere on a Sunday morning as it is already.

Chris 03/03/2017 at 3:52 PM

@ray – I emailed CAR in opposition to Jefferson project when it was first proposed several months ago. Someone distributed a flyer on all cars throughout the immediate blocks this past Sunday/Monday so I imagine they got quite a few calls/emails in opposition.

I remember there being a meeting between the developer and the community when this was first proposed at the Tricycle Gardens. The developer said they would change the design to be more appropriate – but this basically looks exactly the same as the original proposal.

So, as far as I can tell CAR and the developer went ahead anyway without consideration of the communications they were receiving from the community. Not surprising really, all of these people know and work with each other and the ‘rules’ apply to the rest of us.

P.S. – Newbille straddles the line between incompetence and ineptitude, and since she just won re-election good luck getting her to respond to anything for the next 3 years.

animal lover 03/03/2017 at 4:00 PM

I think it is really really funny all the people that say they are looking forward to walking to places. I never see y’all walk anywhere now…unless you live two blocks or less away. I don’t see people walking when its hot, nor when its rainy. Who was out today?

ML 03/03/2017 at 4:17 PM

There are now more cars in the US than licensed drivers. Between Uber getting other folks to the restaurants and the Pulse providing transportation, parking becomes less of an issue.

John M 03/03/2017 at 5:29 PM

@ray – I generally try to keep my personal inclinations out of this, I value CHPN being a shared neutral space. Hit me up at and I’ll give you my take on it if you’d like.

James 03/03/2017 at 9:35 PM

I agree primarily with Matt Conrad’s assessment on these projects. CAR has done an excellent job of focusing on their responsibilities to our ( Union Hill) community and adherence to their governing authority/limitations.Its a tough job (CAR). Like some other respondents, I have had major disagreements/run ins with CAR but I must say overall they have been “fair” during my personal interactions. I have attended many UHCA meetings relating to BHC development and CoH. This agreement, while not perfect, has incorporated changes for both parties and UHCA has been strong in it’s representation of our community. Everyone has gotten something and given up something. It’s a fair deal.BHC gets to build, UHCA has received consideration and demanded/gained changes to original design. If you look at the area this development is taking place, I see, overall, improvement.

James River 03/03/2017 at 9:44 PM

I use public transportation, bicycle, and walking. Richmond is slowly changing. For the best? May be?

James River 03/03/2017 at 9:47 PM

Nostalgia is everywhere . 20 years ago Church Hill was a desert. Now we have Sub Rosa, Metzger, Dutch & Co etc and people like you…

Tim H 03/03/2017 at 10:09 PM

I admit I’m lacking the details on this development, but if there is one thing I’ve learned in my 50 plus years of life is that nothing ever stays the same. I personally thing things would be pretty boring if they did stay the same. Embrace it or accept it. It’s happening! It may work out well!

Katy Johnson 03/03/2017 at 11:21 PM

I have lived in this neighborhood years before any of these establishments dared to even venture here. It’s just a poor design, that doesn’t keep with the historical feel of neighborhood.

Justin Swisher 03/04/2017 at 10:55 AM

I think this project is a great addition to the neighborhood. Do those posting not realize development on the Hill is a good thing and appreciate the vision of those that are investing here. Roosevelt, Sub Rosa, Union Market, Dear Neighbor have all been a tremendous positive to this area and finally the eye sore of a law firm/parking lot on the Jefferson circle will be improved and bring value to visitors and neighbors alike. I am excited to see this project come to life. Nice job Matt!

Alison Campbell 03/04/2017 at 1:09 PM

Justin bless your heart, poor thing. I have lived in Church Hill for 8 years..3.5 spent in Union Hill. I once lived above what became Sub Rosa. Some of you old timers may even remember looking for my cats after the fire in ’13. This is truly horrifying!..that is all I can even think to say.

Mike 03/04/2017 at 2:11 PM

^ Wow Alison, there is so much to work with in this comment:

1) Incredibly condescending, aren’t you? Geez

2) Just how many cats do you have?

3) Anytime someone describes a large investment into the area that will bring new jobs, businesses, and housing, and is replacing a neglected, trashed lot as “truly horrifying”, one has to wonder just what it is that you would find appealing?

I mean seriously. I know some of you are clutching your parking spaces like a set of pearls during a robbery, but if there ever was a group “missing the forest for the trees”, you’re it.

As someone that lives not far from this, I welcome it. Am I in love with the design? I don’t know – I am not an architect. But there certainly seem to be plenty of architecture experts commenting in this thread….

Kay9 03/04/2017 at 2:57 PM

Alison Campbell- “Bless your heart” ROFL…thank you…I miss Minnesota.

Kay9 03/04/2017 at 5:49 PM

Maybe the Jefferson project will be named “The Gulag”

BAF 03/04/2017 at 11:23 PM

@49 Mike

Welcome to Church Hill/Union Hill, the home of backseat architects and preservationist wannabes with all sorts of glorious ideas about how OTHER people should spend their money and do things.

Liz Opalak 03/05/2017 at 10:13 AM

Any establishment built here would have to be first floor commercial per zoning. It doesn’t have to be an out of scale and out of touch apartment complex.

Havis L. Wright 03/05/2017 at 10:31 AM

Chris Dosier just saw this, i live on the 600 block of 25th, im well aware of the parking situation. I’d prefer the parking "headache" associated with street level activity rather than abundant street parking and reduced vitality.

DontMinceWords 03/05/2017 at 11:01 AM

@49/Mike. Clutching your parking spaces like a set of pearls. #love.

John M 03/07/2017 at 2:23 PM Reply
KB 04/26/2017 at 4:28 PM

Parking is going to be DISASTROUS when they finish this. 🙁

Planning to consider Jefferson Avenue SUP, Bill Robinson Park plans, Venable Street rezoning, art for Jefferson Park - Church Hill People's News | Richmond, Virginia 09/03/2017 at 7:44 AM

[…] a number of iterations, the design for a mixed-use apartment building passed CAR back in March. Getting the SUP through Planning and City Council are the final two […]


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