Richmond Developer Invests in Rowhouse Restoration

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A historical architectural feature in Richmond, Virginia is undergoing extensive renovations. reports that a block of seven 19th Century rowhouses and a former general store is being restored to its former glory by developer Deanna Lewis. Since last summer, when construction began, the brick rowhouses on North Church Hill are starting to resemble what they originally looked like in 1875, when they were first built.

The restoration project happened to uncover a pedestrian tunnel in the middle of the block, a feature that Lewis claims was in vogue in the rowhouses of northern Virginia and Maryland during the time. The construction crews are also constructing a 2,400 square-foot home at the rear of the old corner store.

One of the more remarkable things about the rowhouses is the granite foundation, which is a trademark of English-born architect James Netherwood. Netherwood’s granite works can be found throughout Richmond. He built the Robert E. Lee monument on Monument Avenue, as well as the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument and the Old City Building.

The granite foundation, according to Lewis, extends 10 feet deep into the ground. Hard surfaces like granite are very popular construction materials. In 2010, for example, approximately 39% of flooring material sold for commercial purposes. In contrast, only 25% of sold material was carpeting and rugs.

“It’s a good thing he had a granite foundry,” Lewis said.

Lewis has personally financed the project herself and once construction is done later this year, she will have spent $1.5 million. The rowhouses themselves will be priced at $275,000, with customizations costing more. Each rowhouse will come with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and the new installation on the corner store will go for $325,000, and will contain three master suites and 3 bathrooms.

The construction project qualifies for Richmond’s tax abatement program, providing Lewis with considerable savings on local real estate taxes. This is obviously welcome news to Lewis, who is sparing no expense — or, for that matter, detail. The construction project uses old bricks for their additions and heart pine for the floors, which was in style during the 19th Century.

“It’s all those little things that make it different,” she said. “I like to restore like I’d like to live here.”

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