By Carolyn Weber. After a 20-year, on again off again redevelopment, the century-old American Cigar Co. building has a new lease on life. Home to 171 rental units overlooking the James River, this former tobacco warehouse is now Richmond, Va.'s first large-scale loft project.
Historic tax credits and the conservative nature of the marketplace resulted in some restrictions on the design: The architects were required to keep the exterior intact. "We tried to play off the existing materials," says architect Jeff Henneman, who replaced the original 10-foot-by-7-foot arched wood windows with new ones identical in style and proportion. The sophisticated interiors, on the other hand, are modern and industrial, with 14- and 17-foot ceilings, sandblasted exposed brick, and lots of natural stone, wood, and metal. "It's an eclectic look because we wanted to honor the history yet add some modern elements."
The units appeal to singles, couples, and empty-nesters, and rents have set the pace for the Richmond market. Initially priced at $1 per square foot, the units now go for $1.35 per square foot and were 100 percent pre-leased months ahead of schedule. Category: Adaptive Re-Use; Entrant/Architect/Land Planner/Landscape Architect: Barton and Associates, Plymouth Meeting, Pa.; Builder/Developer: Forest City Residential Group, Bethesda, Md.