"No right-minded Richmonder would want to live in Manchester" was the common thought. "We had to PAY SunTrust to stay" was the mindset among those 'in the know.' Residential development in Manchester would not work.
Flash forward to 2010 and you will find 1000 separate residences in the industrial Manchester. You will find one of the most amazing commercial offices in the city in the Commons at Plant Zero. You will find one of the most intriguing creative flexible office environments at The Corrugated Box Building. You will find apartments and condos and flats and lofts and studios and restaurants and bars.
You will also find the building that started it all, Warehouse 201.
What makes the W201 story so interesting is that it was literally the first building renovated using historic credits in industrial Manchester. It was also the first RESIDENTIAL option in industrial Manchester at the time. What was once a 5 story concrete warehouse building, while only steps from Shockoe Bottom and Shockoe Slip, alone on its own, is now the gatekeeper to over 1000 residential units that have come to life in only the last 7 years. That is pretty incredible.
The development momentum that was initiated by Warehouse 201 in Manchester has now spread to much of the district smaller and mid-sized buildings. Dwarfing them all is the Reynold South Plant site which abuts the property to the south. 17 acres large with over 400,000 square feet of historic warehouse structure to renovate, South Plant is poised to change the landscape in Richmond.
While I doubt that Warehouse 201 will go down in the history of Richmond real estate, it probably should. In 2003, Richmond, Virginia, especially the Downtown market in Richmond Va was a lot different than it is today. Condo projects such as The Vistas on the James, Riverside on the James, The Reserve, The Emrick Flats, The Marshall Street Bakery, Old Manchester Lofts, 2C and Miller and Rhodes were not built. For the most part, these projects had not even been considered. Convincing a bank that building a bunch of flats in an area where no one lived, across the River that so divides our city was a risky endeavor, for sure. Building it in a minimalist industrial fashion was nuts. Or was it?
The successful re-positioning/vitalizing/development of Manchester had to begin somewhere. It began at 201 Hull Street in 2003 at Warehouse 201.