RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – A new six-story apartment building with more than 250 units could be coming to Richmond’s Museum District.
The city’s Planning Commission voted unanimously on April 17 to recommend the approval of the developer’s special-use permit request to build the apartment building.
The project will replace a shuttered senior-living facility at 3600 Grove Avenue if the Richmond City Council gives it the final stamp of approval. The proposal drew both opposition and support from community members before the commission’s vote.
Supporters said the proposed project would help bring more housing to the city. Critics raised concerns over traffic in the area, saying the project would bring more congestion, and that the proposed building didn’t fit the neighborhood’s aesthetic and lacked green space.
“The scale of the proposed structure is simply too large and overwhelming for this site in this area of the city identified as ‘The Museum District’ which has a distinct character, with which this proposed development is NOT in keeping including from the Museum District Association,” Scott Finn, a nearby resident, wrote in a March 15 letter to the city.
The Museum District Association initially opposed the proposal, laying out reasons that included the height of the building, potential traffic issues along the narrow stretch of Thompson Street and a lack of setbacks and stepbacks.
In response, the developers, the Georgia-based Flournoy Development Group, changed the original plan by reducing the number of proposed units from 260 to 253 and the number of proposed off-street parking spaces from 335 to 330.
According to city documents, other changes made by Flournoy include:
- Building stepped back after the 4th floor and further stepped back after the 5th Floor for the entire length of Thompson Street (which reduced the unit count to 253)
- Amenity Area on the 6th Floor is stepped back to the 6th floor Thompson Street stepback following same line
- Roof line massing reduced overall with reduction of roof at the amenity area on the 6th floor
- Building stepped back after the 5th floor for the entire length of Grove Avenue
- Revised the Signage from a blade sign on the building to a sign on the canopy entrances to the building
Despite the updates, nearby residents told the Planning Commission they were still worried the project would increase congestion in the area, specifically at the Grove Ave. and Thompson Street intersection.
The Museum District Association sent the Planning Commission a letter on April 17 indicating it no longer opposed the special-use permit request. But the association stressed that it was not endorsing the proposal and still had concerns over traffic and residents’ views. It continued to call for the proposal to be no more than a four-story building.
Richmond City Councilman Andreas D. Addison, the one councilmember on the Planning Commission, praised the “very public process” and community feedback that led developers to alter the proposal.
Addison acknowledged, however, that the project isn’t perfect, echoing residents’ concerns about traffic in the area.
“I wasn’t satisfied with the response from the city and specifically public works saying that there is no improvements needed to this area because it is an offramp of a highway,” Addison said. “The traffic flow coming off Powhite Parkway is a problem.”
Richmond’s City Council is set to vote on the project’s special-use permit during its April 24 meeting.