Nov 20

Bobber Flats nears completion

bobberflatsNovember 20, 2009 by Al Harris

Another former factory in Shockoe Bottom has been converted into apartments.

Located at 20th and Franklin, Bobber Flats will bring 41 one- and two-bedroom units to the neighborhood when it is completed in December. There is also a 700-square-foot office space.

Sensei Development and Monument Construction have spent $4.7 million so far. The project is part of an entire rehabilitation of the block bounded by Main and 21st streets — which is projected to cost $35 million.

Marc Galt, managing director of Sensei, said 21 units will be finished Dec. 15, with the remaining units being completed soon after.

Rent at the apartments costs between $875 and $1,400, with most utilities included.

One unit has been pre-leased, he said. Financing for Bobber Flats was provided by McLean-based Sona Bank.

The developers said they plan to receive state and federal tax credits totaling $1.35 million.

Galt said he is pleased with the progress so far, especially considering the project is on time and on budget.

“We’re going to finish a month early, which is great, because usually you finish a month late,” Galt said.

But the apartments are just the beginning. The vision is to create a total of 225 residential units around 10,000 square feet of commercial space, underground parking and a patio garden linking the different buildings. The entire complex will be named Shockoe Valley Heights and was designed by Walter Parks architects.

Construction began recently on the old firehouse, built in 1899, to be converted into a 3,000-square-foot restaurant space with three loft apartments on the second floor. The building on the corner of Main and 21st streets immediately east of the firehouse will be partially torn down to make room for a five-story building that will include 25 residential units and 2,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor. Together this part of the project is referred to as Engine Company Lofts (pictured above). The firehouse is projected to be complete in April, with the second building finished in the summer.

Galt said financing for this part of the project was provided by Paragon Bank and First Capital Bank.

Galt said he is looking for an $8 million loan for Old Stone Row, which is planned for the north side of the block next to the Bobber Flats. That search has been a little more difficult than the previous parts of the project.

“The loan size is too big for the small banks, and the big banks aren’t lending,” said Galt. He said he hopes to secure financing during the first quarter of 2010.

Old Stone Row will have 96 units and will be built on the site of the demolished Secrets of the City nightclub.

The final phase, Trolley Commons, is slated for early 2011 and will add 80 units and 3,000 square foot of retail frontage on East Main Street.

Al Harris covers commercial real estate for BizSense. Please send news tips to