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East End News

O St Development on sale! Take a look at the pictures of the transformation

Do a little search on the O Street development and you’ll find the stuff that provides inspiration for writers. There’s the old debate on gentrification and revitalization, there’s the drama of partners at odds with one another, then a very long 2-year lull with no news and an empty set of buildings. One day, back in November of 2015 the development was now back on track, the architecture firm Architecture AD and contractor Urban core taking on this massive project. Completion is scheduled for early summer 2018.

And now look! They have a website:

From the site:

Encompassing an entire block of O Street between 25th and 26th Streets, these townhomes are the newest development in the burgeoning Church Hill neighborhood. The O Street townhomes will combine the best of Richmond’s history with contemporary space planning and modern amenities. A new, ground up build bookends the existing seven meticulously restored and enlarged homes.

The townhomes, built in 1874, reflect Richmond’s history and Church Hill’s artisanal past. Developed by James Netherwood, the block was home to stone carvers, brick masons, engineers, lithographers, painters and a book binder. Netherwood – one of the largest granite suppliers on the East Coast – supplied the granite for Old City Hall, the Mann Netherwood block in historic Church Hill, and many of the statuary pedestals found throughout Richmond.

With 3 bedrooms and 3.5 baths, the original renovated houses range in size from 2,000 SF to 2,234 with prices starting in the mid $300’s with substantial tax abatements. The new 2,466 SF townhome features 4 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms and is priced in the low $400’s.

Each architect designed home features original, historic detailing, open modern floor plans, roof terraces, and finishes with today’s lifestyles in mind.

Check out the pictures here!

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Jennifer Case
Jennifer Case 05/03/2018 at 6:06 AM

Crazy! The price tag for these is even crazier!

Paul Granger
Paul Granger 05/03/2018 at 6:14 AM

It’s unfortunate they beefed away from the original plan that worked to keep the historic feel of the block.

Cheyenne Varner
Cheyenne Varner 05/03/2018 at 6:10 AM

You’ve got to be kidding me ?

Paul Granger
Paul Granger 05/03/2018 at 6:13 AM

“Meticulously restored” seems bold; aside from the corner unit that sold years ago, it looked like the only original part of the other homes was the brick facade. Is anyone else aware of any other features that were restored?

Charlie Barnes
Charlie Barnes 05/03/2018 at 9:23 AM

Not. The mortar on the bricks was dust…once the wood was removed the walls collapsed.

Thankfully I got quite a bit of the old wood and am turning it into Farmhouse Tables, foyer pieces, etc.

Chelsea Harnish
Chelsea Harnish 05/03/2018 at 6:15 AM

Interesting that the website acts as if the original buildings still stand when all they did was keep the front facade.

Elizabeth Dudley Cann Kambourian
Elizabeth Dudley Cann Kambourian 05/03/2018 at 6:44 AM

I thought it was a medical offices building. What an atrocity.

CJ Walker
CJ Walker 05/03/2018 at 6:46 AM

The price of the homes are ridiculous! It’s priced out of the game for many. They’re charging $300k for homes with schools that desperately need repair- how is this going to work?

Paul C Hammond
Paul C Hammond 05/03/2018 at 4:10 PM

The higher the property taxes. That’s good for schools.

CJ Walker
CJ Walker 05/03/2018 at 4:14 PM

Sure, if someone actually moves there…..

Chloe Rote
Chloe Rote 05/03/2018 at 4:29 PM

If they kept the facades then likely these are entirely tax abatement which means the taxes aren’t any higher for ten years. Richmond’s VERY generous abatement program doesn’t mean anything for the schools except a greater need to raise revenue elsewhere.

CJ Walker
CJ Walker 05/03/2018 at 4:32 PM

Chloe, good point. The tax abatement prices are dirt cheap.

Teresa Nieding Carrel
Teresa Nieding Carrel 05/03/2018 at 5:54 PM

Chloe Rote imho, they need to take a good look at that program….the average guy pays A LOT in taxes to live here but the developers are making a fortune

Eric Lee Cobb
Eric Lee Cobb 05/03/2018 at 6:56 AM

The plan is to provide greater revenue through the property taxes, for the schools and infrastructure. It’s always about the “bottom line.”

William Bagby
William Bagby 05/03/2018 at 8:36 AM

Looks like rowhomes with penthouses on top lmao

Kaylani Christine Morrison
Kaylani Christine Morrison 05/03/2018 at 9:06 AM

noun: gentrification; plural noun: gentrifications
the process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to upper (almost always white) -class taste.

While you sell these over priced apartments to the rich, white, hipsters, don’t forget about those outside your line of site. There are many schools, small business owners, and homeowners who have been there for years who could use help.

Paul C Hammond
Paul C Hammond 05/03/2018 at 4:12 PM

I think anyone who can afford one can buy one regardless of race, religion or ethnic origin.

ilya 05/03/2018 at 3:06 PM

I’m not in the market or anything but every time I hear of a house being for sale in Richmond it’s at over $300k. Seems like the new normal.

Teresa Nieding Carrel
Teresa Nieding Carrel 05/03/2018 at 6:02 PM

I’m not sure why so many negative comments… it’s not affordable to you, don’t buy it, you don’t like the brick, don’t look at it….I’m sure it’s 1000x better than what was there……somebody invested their good money in a really rough side of this neighborhood and it makes our neighborhood better. I’m sure the people who complain about gentrification wouldn’t have wanted to live in what was there before either….

Chloe Rote
Chloe Rote 05/03/2018 at 7:20 PM

Teresa, the concern comes from exactly what you wrote about: “it makes *our* neighborhood better.”
The problem is that this neighborhood, and this block/section in particular, is in disrepair because people that look like you and me made active policy decisions to cause that. People that look like us put the freeway over homes, we put the public housing around the corner, and we systemically disinvested from these schools and these families. And now that entire blocks are run down and up for grabs on the cheap, and a few early gentrifiers (myself and I would be you included!) have made the area more comfortable for white folks, developers are moving in are further displacing lower income black people.
This *is* affordable to me, but over two thirds of households near this development are cost-burdened by housing. That means they pay OVER 35% of their income to only rent. My concern is for them. They might not have wanted to live in what was there previously but a whole hell of a lot of families could live in these 2300 sqft 3 bedroom places if instead of building private rooms for libraries these developers were incentivized by the city to build things for the families who need to use the public ones.

Teresa Nieding Carrel
Teresa Nieding Carrel 05/03/2018 at 7:59 PM

Chloe Rote hmmm, well, I see where you’re coming from but I’m not so sure I agree that if the city can’t afford to build schools, they can afford to subsidize the rebuilding of this neighborhood to degree that it was/is needed. A lot of the housing was unsafe and uninhabitable and crime infested. No one, regardless of income, wants to live near that. The investors and the people like us are not all to blame for people wanting to move back to the cities, and the housing crisis that we’ve experienced. The housing crisis is mostly to blame for rents going through the roof and now the prices of homes skyrocketing because of the inventory shortage. That’s EVERYWHERE. And, there are several programs for people with low income to purchase and rent homes via private, federal, state, and local programs. Just to be clear, Richmond is not a rich city. They have been poor for quite a long time, so there is a limit to what can be done to subsidize. High price homes typically generate more taxes which the city needs. This one may have tax credits, but it will still generate more taxes than an empty run down house. But, I get your concerns.

Stephen Ogburn
Stephen Ogburn 05/03/2018 at 8:42 PM

Well said Teresa, gentrification is a real problem in Richmond but there is the issue of there being little to no incentive for developing housing that is for mixed or lower income. Although, I believe that is the plan for the housing going up on Venable and Jessamine. I personally know people actively working to change that but it’s an up hill battle funding wise. It’s an especially hard thing to do with quality in mind.

Kay 05/03/2018 at 7:27 PM

$400,000 to live on O Street in the hood? Someone would need their head examined! Good luck with that.

Eric S. Huffstutler 05/03/2018 at 9:06 PM

What is wrong with brick? I am sure it was simply used in the line of reasoning. This building is nearly 145-years old. Brick construction was the norm then and in restoring the facade, it makes sense because the idea is to try and preserve the look and feel of the original construction of a historically significant building (built by James Netherwood) while maintaining the fragile historic fabric of the neighborhood.

Be glad that someone who has a vision not only for this property but also for the neighborhood, took a gamble with them since these original 4-room homes were literally falling down in some places.

$300k is the “new” norm for housing in Church Hill? Try $400k and up. I know of several on our block sold for over $400k and were smaller than our house!

ray 05/04/2018 at 7:40 AM

Get used to the new norm of higher housing prices up here. Six months from now, all these units will have sold.

The $200 or so price per square foot number is actually very reasonable in today’s market, especially considering the tax credit that the new homeowners will receive for 10 years.

jean Mcdaniel 05/04/2018 at 11:01 AM

The pricing isn’t what bothers me. The free market will dictate that. What bothers me is those things plopped on top with horizontal sliding glass windows. That was never in the original design.

ray 05/04/2018 at 2:37 PM

Greed, Jean. I’m curious about that 3rd floor set back, too.

ray 05/04/2018 at 2:37 PM

Agreed, not greed

L 05/06/2018 at 11:38 AM

@ Jean and Ray – It’s a weird detail, but I’m annoyed that they bricked up the tunnel/passage through the middle of the block, and the fact that they kept none of the original layout or materials other than the facade. I had the chance to see the interiors before they were gutted, and these were extremely small houses, so I get the need to add on to them. But that doesn’t justify removing most of the original structures

Eric S. Huffstutler 05/07/2018 at 6:53 AM

I really don’t understand the line of questioning about “saving” more of the building? Most of the middle 4-room row houses are only 13-feet wide (single room) and 650-sq feet total in size. I know people with single bedrooms larger than that! When you convert them to 2,000-sq feet, where is there to go but to the back and up while sacrificing those walls and creating more space however you can. Look at the floor plans through the link given.

Also, this structure falls outside the boundaries of the city’s Old & Historic districts and so are not protected. Be glad that even the facade was saved so that at least the face fits into the historic fabric of the city. The DHR – Church Hill North historic district is only an honorary designation to have leverage but does not “protect” anything.

Eric S. Huffstutler 05/07/2018 at 7:20 AM

Actually, that 650-sq foot size, 4-room houses are misleading and were smaller. You have to consider the staircase area, bathroom, and kitchen with cabinet space as well as any closets… all non-livable spaces included in that 650-sq foot measurement of wall-to-wall (13×25 feet, 2 story footprint)

AL 05/07/2018 at 11:17 AM

I think if more people followed what has happened with these properties or who knows a little bit more information about the buildings before, during, and after this project would benefit many parties involved before typing such comments. Besides, these are your neighbors who are developing this project; this is your community. I’m a little baffled by all these harsh comments coming from such a community that prides itself on being, well, a community.

I do know of a few problems this project has dealt with recently. One was the interior walls. They were originally thought to have been double-layered interior brick but turned out to be single. To accommodate the building of walls and floors, the brick had to be replaced. Much of the interior brick is still a part of the new homes, however. These homes were in really bad shape, in worse shape than thought. I think the plans are great for the open areas and the modern added top.

I also think it’s quite quick to label this as a “gentrified” project considering many families of all colors and sizes and types are probably interested because it’s a newer and cheaper part of Richmond. It’s 15% cheaper to buy in CH than the Fan. Don’t be so hasty to automatically assume white people are the only ones looking at this property.

I’m excited for this new growth and opportunity in CH and Richmond. Richmond has grown and developed so much over the past 20 years. I’m excited to see how we continue to grow in a positive light in the community-at-large in Richmond.

L 05/07/2018 at 1:28 PM

@Eric – the kitchens were actually lean to type structures attached at the rear of the property, and were likely not included in that measurement (they were basically added on to the rear porch). The staircases were illegally steep/narrow. But the rooms had original fireplaces, hearths, beadboard, and so forth and were actually kind of charming. Those original rooms could have be repurposed as an office, kitchen, breakfast room, stairhall, master bath, dressing room etc. – preserving more of the original layout and historic details. I have no issue with the developer adding on to the rear or top of the property.

The fact that this is not part of a city old and historic district is irrelevant to whether there was anything worthy of preserving. An official acknowledgement of a fact doesn’t make it more or less true. Also, the City old and Historic designation doesn’t usually protect the interior of a property anyway.

Eric S. Huffstutler 05/07/2018 at 5:10 PM

#32 AL, thanks! Yes, they were in horrible shape. And, when you open up a property to rebuild you also have to abide by construction codes not in place 145-years ago which include firewalls, etc.

@33 L, I was going by the tax assessment drawings that the city did for just one of the addresses I used as a reference and it only showed 325-sq feet per floor, not including whatever obstacles there were which is not considered “living” areas so makes the figure a bit false. I am not quite sure about the kitchen lean-to not being included? There had to be an area for families to cook over the years inside the house but that is not to say that there were many questionable alterations done long before the current owner bought the property. There was a family still living in one of the units as late as when the property was purchased in 2014 and they were relocated.

And, I have to disagree about a structure being irrelevant that sits within an O&H district. It is why districts were being preserved starting in 1957 – to save as many structures within them that you can from the bulldozer. It is why we have historical districts in the first place and why we still have one of the highest concentrations of 19th-century architecture in the country.

L 05/07/2018 at 5:56 PM

@Eric – I think you’ve misread both of my comments. You seem to think that the Old and Historic District designation is what makes the structures within the district historic, rather than the other way around; and to think that the city level designation is more important than the federal or state designation. My point is that historic structures (and specifically, these homes on O street) are (usually) worth preserving regardless of whether they have been officially acknowledged as historic by the federal, local, or state government. I think we should encourage proper, quality preservation wherever possible, regardless of title or designation. And by proper preservation, I mean keeping and/or repurposing as much of the historic fabric as possible.

The majority of these houses, based on the floor plans, appears to be new construction/addition, so it seems absolutely unnecessary for the developer to combine all of the original interior space into one room (which appears to be the case based on the plans). Frankly, I think it’s really crappy when people go in and take all the walls out of older homes to make an open floor plan. That isn’t preservation. If someone really need that much open, contiguous space they should either add that space on to the house, preferably at the rear, or come up with a compromise solution that preserves some idea of how the space was originally divided/arranged (bigger archways/openings and larger pocket doors, for example, rather than completely tearing out walls). Or they could always move into a repurposed commercial or Industrial space, if they really want something historic but have to have open space.

In any event, calling the O street houses “meticulously preserved” is pretty outlandish, considering the developers completely gutted them, and they don’t appear to have kept or to be recreating any of the original interior elements (doors, millwork, etc.). They also accidentally demolished one end of the row (improperly braced when they tore out the interior, it collapsed on a windy day). I mean, “liberally reimagined” or “interiors modernized beyond recognition” would be more accurate descriptions.

Eric S. Huffstutler 05/07/2018 at 8:22 PM

@35 L. I understand and also believe in what you are saying in principle. I too am no fan of “open concept” but I am from the old school being nearly 61-years old and like formal living. But, historical protection, as you mentioned, only focuses on the exterior and not the interior. I think you will find that the case in most any city with historical districts, even in New Orleans. They have strict rules as to how the facade of a building can look but behind the courtyard gates, anything goes.

You have to also understand that the housing market today is a whole different ballgame and new homebuyers, in general, have a different mindset as to what they require. Open Floor Plans, Natural Lighting, Clean Uncluttered Lines, Light Color Hardwoods, etc… And their style of living is the same – no fuss, low maintenance, casual entertaining. You have to follow the market.

All I can say to people is to think about what these units looked like and what they will look like with the efforts of the owner and developer.

Eric S. Huffstutler 05/07/2018 at 8:31 PM

@35 L… I would also add that, there are exceptions about protection of interiors when a home becomes a landmark linked to a figure in history. But the average 1880’s home that line blocks in our various districts, are at the whim of the owner as to how the interiors will end up being. It seems unfortunate and feel you but is a fact of life.

L 05/08/2018 at 5:38 AM

@ Eric – We’re digressing here, but I think that open concept is far less universal a preference than you think. There’s definitely some backlash and/or movement away from it. In theory, it’s great for entertaining, but in practice it only works if you have a perfectly organized home and a meticulously clean and organized kitchen. In theory, it’s great for all the open space, but in practice it means there’s no privacy and no way to escape from whatever your roomate/partner/children are doing. Something I’ve seen recently in design blogs are folks putting large pocket doors on new kitchens – so they can have the open floor plan feel but also hide the mess if they have a dinner party or avoid disruptions while trying to focus on cooking. Anyway, I think it’s really a case of people only being able to buy what their sold.

Anyway, my point in my last post was that the developer looks to have more than doubled the size of these houses. They could have easily kept the original two over two room layout AND made the rest of the house open floor plan. They obviously haven’t. Fine, whatever – but for them to say they have “meticulously preserved” these houses is ridiculous. It’s like there was so little that the developer actually had to do to get the preservation component right, and yet they couldn’t be bothered but still had to to spout self congratulatory BS about what they hadn’t actually accomplished.

As for protecting interiors – the national park service standards used for the state and federal tax credit programs are much better in this respect than the city old and historic designation. With tax credits, most of the original walls must be kept and the only substantial changes permitted are modernization related (HVAC/utility closets, kitchens, bathrooms). I think you have a positive impression of the city program because it’s a mandate rather than an incentive program like the tax credits, but I think the tax credit program is actually a lot stronger. (The city program doesn’t seem to protect anything from being torn down, either, does it?)


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