Tenants will soon be moving into Port City apartments, an affordable workforce housing development expected to jump start the transformation of the Jefferson Davis Historic Route 1 corridor in Richmond’s Manchester district.
Opening next month, the first phase of the development includes 61 apartment units, followed by 74 additional one- and two-bedroom units opening a few weeks later.
Once complete, the 300,000-square-foot Port City development will convert the former American Tobacco manufacturing plant’s 11-acre industrial site, with four large interconnected brick buildings and two rows of one-story metal warehouses, into 291 apartments and 30 artist studios.
The community amenities will include a fitness center, pool, greenspace, a business center and a four-story atrium and clubhouse. The development also holds the largest solar array complex in the City of Richmond generating 467-kw hours of solar energy.
Construction on the second phase, 156 apartments and 23 artist studios, should begin in early summer and be completed in mid-2020.
“The second phase will be more challenging,” said Tom Wilkinson, the principal with Richmond-based Maramjen Investments LLC. “Some of the sheds along Jeff Davis Highway have roofs that are falling down.”
Funding from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), in the form of tax credits, allows the units to be leased at a much lower rent than typical downtown apartments. Residents can make no more than 60 percent of the area median income.
“We are literally turning over a new leaf right here on historic Route 1,” said Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney at the ribbon cutting ceremony. “This investment and this project is a demonstration that we can create communities where people can thrive.”
Manchester is a former independent city which served as the county seat of Chesterfield County from 1870 to 1876. Manchester, which was an active port city, merged with Richmond in 1910. The port shipped tobacco and coal.
Walter Parks Architects is the architect of the project.