A 12-story residential tower is planned for the northwest corner of Broad and Lombardy streets near Virginia Commonwealth University’s academic campus.
The 168-unit apartment building would take over a Sunoco gas station and convenience store that’s on the half-acre lot, which is in front of the Lowe’s home improvement store. The property is a couple of blocks west of VCU’s Siegel Center.
Construction could begin in late March or early April, if the Minneapolis-based The Opus Group receives approval for a special-use permit from the Richmond Planning Commission and City Council. The Planning Commission takes up the request Tuesday afternoon, and the council would consider it on Feb. 24.
The planning department staff is recommending approval of the request.
The project at 1600 W. Broad St. is expected to be completed during the summer of 2021, said Ben Angelo, vice president of real estate development for the Opus Development Co. LLC.
The top floor of the building closest to the Broad and Lombardy corner would be reserved for an outdoor terrace that should have commanding views of the VCU campus and downtown Richmond, Angelo said.
“We think this will fit in really nicely in the area but also provide an opportunity for some great views from the building,” Angelo said.
For height comparison, the closest structures of that size are student housing buildings on VCU’s campus — the 17-story Brandt Hall at 710 W. Franklin St. and the next-door 18-story Rhoads Hall and the 12-story Gladding Residence Center at 711 W. Main St.
A 12-story apartment building also is planned for Scott’s Addition as part of a plan to redevelop the former Quality Inn and Suites hotel at 3200 W. Broad St. and surrounding property.
The planned U-shaped building at Broad and Lombardy streets would feature studio, one-, two- and four-bedroom units. The building’s second floor would have a fitness center and an outdoor terrace with a pool and resident community gathering area overlooking the intersection.
About 3,400 square feet of retail space would be planned for along Broad Street. Angelo said it’s too early to know what might go there, but it likely would be some sort of restaurant.
The building’s location should appeal to college students and young professionals, he said.
“We would be targeting students at VCU and the surrounding area but also the property will appeal to a broader demographic, so students and professionals alike,” Angelo said.
The development would have 79 parking spaces on one level below ground and on part of the building’s first floor. There also would be spaces to store about 65 bicycles.
Parking, he said, should not be an issue since the project is close to VCU’s campus and GRTC’s Pulse bus rapid transit line.
The proposal, Angelo said, is consistent with the city’s new TOD-1 designation, which allows for building heights up to 12 stories in certain parts of the city.
“It fits in well with the city’s vision and plan for that corridor,” he said.
The building would be sited near the property line along Broad and Lombardy streets, but have about a 10-foot setback from the property line on the other two sides of the building.
The planning staff said in its report that the proposed special use is generally consistent with the land-use recommendations and other elements of the Pulse Corridor Plan.
The property at Broad and Lombardy streets is owned by Noephel Inc. The two parcels are assessed at a total of $1.618 million, according to the city’s online property records.
The residential tower is the first local project for Opus, which operates commercial real estate development, construction and design companies.