Richard Gregory, a partner and co-founder of Fountainhead Properties, a big residential and commercial development player in downtown Richmond and in Manchester for the past 15 years, has started a new development firm.
Gregory has created Lynx Ventures LLC in partnership with his son John Gregory and business partner Bernard Harkless — both of whom worked at Fountainhead — to create mixed-use residential and commercial communities that have economic and social impact.
He and Fountainhead co-founder Tom Papa will remain partners in the projects they have developed together. But Papa will operate Fountainhead.
“It was time to refocus,” Gregory said.
Part of that refocus was the two partners having different plans , Gregory said, adding that he has more of a long-term view while Papa said he is looking more at specific projects based on location.
“We have a different approach going forward,” Gregory said. “We are both getting older. I have my son and Bernard to take the reins, whereas Tom’s family is not involved in the business. We are at different phases in our lives and business cycles.”
Gregory and Papa said the split is amicable.
“He is a great partner and a class partner,” Papa said. “Rick is an impact developer. He likes to get into an area of the city and revitalize it and that’s very admirable. He’s doing a lot of great things in the city.”
Papa said Fountainhead Properties is more focused on projects based on location and timing.
Gregory wants Lynx Ventures to focus on increasing affordable housing projects and redeveloping spaces that attract businesses.
Lynx Ventures, he said, will try to improve a community’s economy and quality of life while still generating competitive returns.
The new firm is redeveloping 28 former Philip Morris USA Inc. tobacco storage warehouses in South Richmond into space for businesses. The project, named Clopton Siteworks, is home to small businesses using some of the restored warehouses.
Fountainhead bought the buildings and started the transformation in 2015. It will continue owning six large modern warehouse buildings on the property.
Lynx Ventures got the historic buildings and is restoring those with the hope of putting more businesses there that eventually would create more than 500 jobs.
Clopton Siteworks is home to companies in the printing, light manufacturing, graphic design, furniture and film industries. The next phase of the project includes development of a commercial kitchen complex designed to meet the growing needs of Richmond’s food and beverage industry, Gregory said.
Clopton Siteworks is on about 25 acres and contains about 1 million square feet of warehouse space bound by East Clopton, Maury, East 29th and Decatur streets.
Affordable housing remains a key focus of Lynx Ventures, Gregory said. The firm begins construction this spring on 104 units at New Manchester Flats in South Richmond and another 48 units at Carlton Views in downtown Charlottesville.
Meanwhile, Fountainhead has three major projects in various stages of development that it is partnering with The WVS Cos.
The two firms are developing a 12-story apartment building at East Byrd and South 10th streets in the Locks development along the Haxall Canal; two apartment buildings — a 12-story and a 14-story — with 450 units along the south floodwall of the James River; and a 106-unit apartment building on a parking lot at West Grace and North Lombardy streets.
“Fountainhead, as a development company, is really on a growth spurt,” Papa said.
During the past 15 years, Fountainhead has focused on urban revitalization projects, generally on multifamily housing developments. Its apartment projects in downtown Richmond and Manchester include The Locks, Miller Lofts and Plant Zero.
It has developed properties valued at about a quarter of a billion dollars in real estate, Gregory said.