19th century Franklin Street building slated for apartment conversion

207 W Franklin St

Signage notes the proposed rezoning to allow the 1880s-era building to be converted into apartments. (Jonathan Spiers photo)

A former residence-turned-office building along Franklin Street downtown is being proposed for a conversion into nearly a dozen apartments.

Alex Bowman, a financial advisor based out of Washington, D.C., is seeking a special-use permit to convert the T. Seddon Bruce House at 207 W. Franklin St. into 11 apartments, three of which would be housed in a new-construction carriage house behind the 19th century house.

Bowman, who purchased the 0.2-acre property at auction in 2021, is working with Johannas Design Group on the project, which would add eight units in the existing structure. The new carriage house would also include a four-car garage.

The three-story building has been vacant since Bowman purchased it through an LLC for $1 million. It was previously used as offices and had been the home of SB&A Integrated Marketing, a local marketing and consumer research firm that was acquired by Kansas-based agency GlynnDevins in 2016. It was most recently used by a law firm.

The property was assessed by the city in 2021 at nearly $1.3 million. It’s currently assessed at $869,000.

207 W Franklin St 3

The apartment conversion would involve additions to the building and a new carriage house behind it. (City documents)

Built in the early 1880s, the 10,000-square-foot Queen Anne-style brick building is included in national and city historic districts, making the project subject to approval by Richmond’s Commission of Architectural Review. A special-use application states the project has received approval from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, which holds a preservation easement.

According to the application from Johannas Design’s Nathan March, previously deferred maintenance has caused the building to deteriorate. It was listed for sale for three years before it sold and was rented below the market rate for the area.

“Having explored potential adaptive reuse concepts for office and multifamily, the former grand home is inefficient for typical multifamily use, and reusing the building in its current configuration is infeasible,” March wrote.

The conversion would renovate the building and include a rear addition, as well as porch additions. The four-car garage would be accessed off an alley.

The special-use request is scheduled to go before the Planning Commission today (Tuesday). City planning staff is recommending approval.

The property is a block west of The Jefferson Hotel and next door to the Mayo-Carter House, which was the longtime home of nonprofit Junior League of Richmond before it sold in 2022 for $1.2 million.

Bowman’s LLC was also the purchaser on that property. He could not be reached for comment.


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