Richmond, Va.—Lawrence Group Architects is currently working with Sterling Bilder on two multifamily adaptive reuse projects with 39 apartments and 8,000 square feet of commercial and community spaces on Church Hill in Richmond, Va.
Both projects were designed under the guidance of the City of Richmond’s East End Vision Plan, and the work is aligned with the City’s East End Transformation Plan.
“These are our first projects with this client, running side by side for all intensive purposes. The procedures for approvals are just taking different paths,” Thomas C. Lekometros, principal of Lawrence Group Architects, tells MHN. “Church Hill is a really wonderful neighborhood in a historic district, but at the same time, it suffered the kind of blight that happens in these kind of neighborhoods. It’s now on the cusp of rebirth and there’s a lot of interest here. It’s a cool place to be.”
The first site, the 25th St. project, is home to the former 800-seat East End Theater, which has been vacant since the 1970s. The theater was originally designed by renowned art deco Richmond architect Henry Carl Messerschmidt. The Lawrence Group’s design incorporates art deco and modern architecture.
“This is a restoration, renovation and expansion of the existing historic theater,” Lekometros says. “It’s a historic tax credit project. The theater building is the star of the show, so to speak. The building is very dramatic. It sits in a place where the fabric of the neighborhood is a very important part of Church Hill and we are trying to find a new vitality for it.”
The project will include a blend of commercial space on the street level and rental apartments above the retail space.
The second site, called the Nolde Garage project, will include over 6,000 square feet of retail space with frontage on 24th Street and Patrick Henry Park. Additionally, it will include 16,000 square feet of residential apartments, split between a renovation of the historic Nolde Garage, and the ground up construction of townhouses.
“This was an old stable building that became a garage. The mindset we are bringing is about salvaging the building on the property and expanding it on the same level,” Lekometros says. “The need for housing at different levels does exist and there’s an appropriateness to the project given the rebirth of the neighborhood.”
The East End Theater project has received all governmental approvals, including from City Council and the Commission of Architectural Review, and is moving forward in the construction phase. The Nolde Garage project remains in process, with the first step being a sale from the City of Richmond as the owner of the property, and ultimately the development design needs approval of the Commission of Architectural Review prior to the construction phase.