May 10

ABC Store coming to Engine Company Lofts

 A new VA ABC store will be occupying the retail space at Engine Company Lofts on the corner of Main and 21st Streets.  Welcome to the neighborhood!

A new Virginia ABC store will be occupying the retail space at Engine Company Lofts on the corner of Main and 21st Streets. Welcome to the neighborhood!

May 10

Old Stone Row – Under Construction

Things are moving full speed at Old Stone Row. This new phase of Shockoe valley Heights will be complete mid summer 2011.

Things are moving full speed at Old Stone Row.  This new phase of Shockoe valley Heights will be complete mid summer 2011.

Oct 01

Firehouse Update

Progress at Engine Company Lofts

Progress at Engine Company Lofts

May 21

Firehouse Renovation Almost Complete

Engine Company Lofts under Construction

Engine Company Lofts under Construction

May 21

Making Progress at Shockoe Valley Heights!

Side view of Bobber Flats from Main Street.

Side view of Bobber Flats from Main Street

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

Oct 19

Construction Update

Shockoe Valley Heights is being introduced in four distinct phases.  The first Building “Bobber Flats” is expected to be ready for occupancy in November 2009.  Demolition of non-historic buildings is currently in progress to prepare for rebuilding of future phases of this development. Richmond’s second oldest fire station, Engine Company 2, is a cornerstone of this project.  Vacant since the early 1960’s, this once fully functioning fire house will be meticulously restored and reinvented, to include a first floor restaurant and 3 extraordinary mezzanine style loft apartments upstairs which will include vast living spaces and awe inspiring views of the city and river.  This phase, “Engine Company Lofts”, is slated for completion in early summer of 2010.  The two remaining phases, “Old Stone Row” and “Trolley Commons” will be ready for occupancy late 2010 and into early 2011.

Apr 21

Bobber Flats coming soon to Shockoe

April 21, 2009 by Al Harris

firehouserenderingAfter four months, the wait is over. A mixed-use development will move ahead on East Main Street in Shockoe Bottom.

In December, we wrote about a renovation project in Shockoe Bottom that would turn a former factory, nightclub and firehouse (all located on the same block) into condos, retail and restaurant space. Located between Main and Franklin streets at 21st and 20th streets, the $35 million mixed-use development is a joint project between Marcus Galt and Monument Construction principals Tom Dickey and Chris Johnson. At the time, the development team was waiting on financing to begin.

Galt reports that the team has secured construction financing for the first phase, which will turn an old bobber factory into a 41-unit residential building called Bobber Flats. The building was built in 1900. Galt said that the target completion for that phase is December and that construction should start soon.

Around the corner from the factory, Galt said, plans to turn the 19th century firehouse into a restaurant are set to begin shortly after a tenant is found.

Phase two, which is scheduled to begin in the fall, calls for the demolition of the old Secrets in the City nightclub and construction of a 91-unit residential building. The third and final phase, planned for 2010, calls for construction along Main Street that will feature 80 residential units, an outdoor pool, 158 parking spaces and 3,000 square feet of retail.

Galt and his partners at Monument Construction are also nearing completion on another project in the Fan. Construction is 45 days away on rehab of the burned-out Hamlet Cleaners on South Stafford Street between Cary and Main streets. The completed project will feature 16 condominium units.

Al Harris covers commercial real estate for Richmond BizSense. Have a project in the pipeline? Send tips to

Jan 29

Restaurant, apartments planned for Shockoe city block

From NBC 12: Restaurant, apartments planned for Shockoe city block

Dec 29

Shockoe Bottom firehouse part of block-wide plan

December 29, 2008 by Al Haris


A derelict block in Shockoe Bottom is about to get a major makeover.

A group of local developers plans to turn the block into a mixed-use development with more than 200 residential units, 12,000 square feet of retail space and a restaurant.

Construction could start next month.

Developer Marcus Galt has spent the past two years acquiring parcels on Main and Franklin streets between 20th and 21st streets. He and his partners, Tom Dickey and Chris Johnson of Monument Construction, also plan to renovate a late 19th-century firehouse.

“We are ready to go. We just need for the banks to ease up,” Galt said, adding that he and his crew have been waiting two and half months for financing. Galt said he has a verbal agreement with a bank.

The first phase of the $35 million project will turn a late 19th-century bobber factory (the kind used for fishing) on the corner of Franklin and 20th streets into 42 residential units. To qualify for historic tax credits, the units have to be rented for five years. After that, they might be converted to condominiums and sold, Galt said.

In the second phase, crews will demolish the Secrets in the City nightclub on Franklin Street. That space will be used for a five-story residential building with 110 units and an underground parking garage.

The third and final phase, which is expected to begin in 2010, centers on the old firehouse on Main Street. The developers plan to restore the firehouse, which dates to the 1890s, and find a restaurant to fill its space. Depending on the tenant, the restaurant could be one or two stories. If the restaurant only occupies the bottom level, the second floor will be residential. The developers will also seek historic tax credits for the firehouse restoration.

“Even if it weren’t for the tax credits, we would keep it because it’s a part of the history and fabric of downtown,” Dickey said.

The later addition to the firehouse, which most recently was home to a gear-making company, will be torn down to become 12,000 square feet of street-level retail. The second floors might work as residential or office space. Galt also said they are looking to bring in a small urban grocery store. At one point they were in discussions with Gold’s Gym, but nothing has been finalized.

“For the ideal user, we will redesign,” Galt said.

The only piece of the block not owned by Galt and his partners is one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Virginia. It is located on a narrow parcel of land next to the empty nightclub, but Galt said they will be able to build around it and will pursue talks with the cemetery’s owner and caretakers.

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