Richmond, Virginia is a ‘City of Warehouses.’
Shockoe and Manchester, and somewhat Jackson Ward and Carver, too, all had a large number of economically and functionally obsolete warehouses that needed to be re-purposed but even with city incentives, the financing was prohibitively challenging.
The Federal and State Historic Tax Credit programs (HTC’s) largely became the funding mechanism that allowed developers to find the leverage and equity to finance the deals. Richmond and these 100 year old warehouses were saved by the Federal and State Historic Tax Credit programs.
If there has ever been an example of a public/private partnership that has better served both sectors, I would like to see it. The impact on neighborhoods that the HTC programs have is nothing short of miraculous and the ability of the development community to leverage these programs is truly astounding.
Prior to 2000, there was little ability to finance redevelopment projects in the urban environment. The HTC programs allowed the development community to secure funding in areas becoming designated as ‘historic’ neighborhoods. While the structure of the financing is far too complex to being explained in a short post, the creation of the ‘credits’ is what generates the equity used correctly leverage the permanent loan. Without the HTC’s, these blighted buildings would have little value and the development community little equity to fund the renovations. The redevelopment of Shockoe, Jackson Ward, Manchester, Church Hill and Monroe Ward began in earnest when these neighborhoods received their historic designation and the effects of bringing these blighted structures back to life as vibrant mixed-use projects will felt for decades to come.
While much of the development has focused on apartments, several developers elected to create upscale spaces in some particularly spectacular warehouses. These lofts are sized roughly as a single family home (2000-4000 SF) and highlight the texture inherent in a century old property. The Decatur, The Pie Factory, some of the penthouses at the Emrick Flats and Warehouse 201 as well as a few others scattered throughout the historic districts have changed many people’s idea of what Downtown Richmond is becoming.
I love that my city now sees the value in both urban living and re-purposing our most enduring assets.
About the Writer // Rick Jarvis, is one of the founding partners of the One South Realty Group and began his real estate career int he early 1990’s. He is a life long Richmond native and can be found online at Google+ and Twitter