Development interest in the vicinity of the Diamond District project is prompting a pitch to expand a neighboring industrial historic district, just as one of that area’s oldest buildings is slated for the wrecking ball.
The Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) is processing a request to expand the Hermitage Road Warehouse Historic District – a 47-acre block on the east side of Hermitage – to include additional properties along the road.
The expansion would add several decades-old warehouses just south of the Diamond District site, including the former Virginia ABC property that’s set to give way to the planned VCU Athletics Village, and an industrial complex at the corner of Hermitage and Overbrook Road.
It would also include 2300 Hermitage Road, the century-old Cobb Lumber site that’s planned to be demolished for a mixed-use development. The site’s inclusion in the district would not prevent the demolition, as historic district designations do not restrict property use.
The expansion would nearly double the existing district, which is bounded by Hermitage to the west, the interstate to the east, Sherwood Avenue to the north and Overbook Road to the south. With the additional properties, the expanded district would total 80 acres, according to the application prepared by Dutton + Associates.
The proposal to expand the district is being prompted by the same thing that created it nine years ago: desired use of state and federal historic preservation tax credits.
Rob Taylor, an architectural historian with Dutton who helped prepare the application, said the Midlothian firm was hired by Sadler & Whitehead, a local consulting firm that works with developers on historic tax credit projects. He said his understanding is that Sadler & Whitehead has a client that’s proposing a historic rehab for one of the properties that would be included in the expansion.
Taylor said he did not know the specific property involved. A call to Sadler & Whitehead was not returned Monday afternoon.
An application for historic tax credit eligibility for the expanded area was filed with DHR in 2020. Taylor said DHR approved a preliminary study area about a year ago and then recommended a full nomination.
The application describes the district and proposed expansion as “a cohesive group of mid-twentieth century warehouse buildings” that represent “an intact collection of warehouses and other industrial buildings associated with the industrial history of Richmond, specifically as it relates to local industry’s twentieth century growth northwest of the city center and adjacent to the railroad.”
The expansion would add the properties to both the Virginia Department of Historic Resources Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Park Service National Register of Historic Places. As part of that process, a public hearing to receive comments on the proposal is scheduled Monday, May 8 – ahead of a June 15 presentation to the State Review Board and Board of Historic Resources.
The May 8 meeting will be held at The Westbrook at Brewers Row clubroom at 1601 Overbrook Road, according to a notice. More information is available from DHR’s Joanna McKnight at [email protected] or 804-482-6093.
Created in 2014, the district was added to the state and federal historic registers at the request of Historic Housing, the local development firm led by Louis Salomonsky and David White, who sought to use the credits for a warehouse conversion that’s now The Cooperage Apartments on Overbrook Road.
The original district also includes the adjacent Feed More complex, which was recently listed for sale, and the nearby Michael & Son complex, part of which was redeveloped last year as The Park at RVA entertainment venue.
Farther west across Hermitage, the expansion would include 1701 and 1717 Rhoadmiller St. and 2508 Hermitage Road, a cluster of warehouses that development firm Thalhimer Realty Partners acquired in recent years. Thalhimer is also one of the firms leading the 67-acre Diamond District project.
Also proposed to be included are 1727 Rhoadmiller St., home to Virago Spirits; adjacent warehouses at 1723 Rhoadmiller; and 1740 Rhoadmiller, a 125,000-square-foot warehouse across from the former Salvation Army property now owned by VCU.
To the south, the expansion would include the Richmond Ambulance Authority property, which would be considered non-contributing to the district, and the Cobb Lumber site, where Virginia Beach-based The Breeden Co. is planning a $53 million mixed-use development.
Breeden has said construction would start following demolition of the existing buildings, which date back to 1906 when the complex was built for the former Richmond Foundry & Manufacturing Co. A development plan for the project remains under review, and a demolition permit submitted last year was denied, according to city records available online.
A Breeden spokesperson did not return an email seeking comment Monday.
Across Hermitage from that site, Washington, D.C.-based Capital City Real Estate is planning a 314-unit apartment building at 1316 Ownby Lane. That 3.4-acre property is not included in the proposed district expansion.