Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Condominium Project is Adding Residential Flavor to Old Church Hill Bakery

A project is baking at the corner of 26th and East Broad streets on Richmond's Church Hill.
Plans call for converting the former Nolde Bakery, once one of the largest independent bakeries in the Southeast, into 77 condominiums, plus a 14-seat movie theater and a parking garage for residents.

Construction is under way to convert the 120,000-square-foot building on 12/3 acres into Nolde Bakery Condominiums at Church Hill. The first units should be available later this year.
The project will be one of the largest on Church Hill to turn a former warehouse or building into residential use.

John W. Woodward, Richmond's economic development director, said the Nolde Bakery project follows a trend taking place in cities nationwide.

"In the past couple of years, we have seen and we will continue to see condominium products come on line. That is a new twist to the new economic trend Richmond is seeing," he said.
Similar projects such as Tobacco Row, Shockoe Place, Capital Garage and St. Andrews Townhouses have played a major role in increasing the city's residential population in recent years.

According to city officials, the number of people living in Shockoe Bottom has jumped 77 percent since 1990. There also has been a 40 percent increase in residents living along downtown's Broad Street and in Shockoe Slip since 1990.

"It is an interesting trend and I think it is where we are heading in terms of adaptive reuse and changing it to a multifamily product," Woodward said.

Projects that take former warehouses or buildings and convert them into apartments or condominiums strive to preserve the exterior historical architecture of old buildings while changing them to a more practical and lucrative use.

"It is a part of Richmond history and should be preserved, so we are trying to keep what history and character we can," said Frank T. "Buddy" Gadams, who runs Marathon Development Group Inc. of Norfolk, which is developing the Nolde Bakery Condominiums.

His company plans to spend more than $20 million to convert the building into 77 high-end one-and two-bedroom condominiums.

Most of the Italian Renaissance-style exterior of the building facing 26th Street will remain. The exterior of the art-deco addition completed in 1923 also will remain, including the inscription of "Nolde Since 1892" over the door on the East Broad Street side.

The yellow and red terrazzo floor inlaid with the image of a baker in the foyer will be saved, as will most of the original hardwood floors and windows.

Marathon bought the building in July after Gadams had been looking at property in Richmond for some time. Gadams is a Benedictine High School graduate who has been a developer in the Norfolk area for the past five years.

"I have been familiar with Richmond since I lived there for 10 years, and I have been keeping my eye on it," Gadams said. "Church Hill has been one of my favorite neighborhoods. I love the history and architecture and the strong, close community. People care about the community and want to see things improve."

The developer's original plans were to convert the building into apartments, until he met with Church Hill residents.

"We sat down with the Church Hill Association and it seemed like people wanted more ownership in the Bottom and Church Hill, so we went for condos and not apartments," Gadams said.

Woodward called that "a significant nuance -- changing to condominiums from apartments." He noted that "condos generally carry greater stability for the neighborhood because the folks are more invested in the neighborhood both literally and figuratively, so that would play well within Church Hill."

The history of the bakery and the buildings on the block bordered by Marshall, Broad, 25th and 26th streets dates back more than 110 years.

German immigrant John Henry Nolde left Niedenstein, Germany, in 1881 at age 14 when his father died. Nolde came to Richmond to work in his uncle's bakery, the Moesta Baking Co. at 111 E. Main St.

In 1892, Nolde opened a small bakery retail shop with door-to-door delivery from the basement of a house that once stood at the northwest corner of 26th and Broad streets. By 1900, he had moved next door to larger facilities and had five horse-drawn wagons delivering bread and other bakery items around the Richmond area.

In 1907, he and his three brothers William, August and George -- became partners and established Nolde Brothers Inc.

The yellow brick art-deco building currently at Broad and 26th streets was designed by New York architect John Edward Hopkins, who specialized in bakery design. It was completed in 1926.

By 1937, the company had expanded and owned three plants in Richmond, Petersburg and Norfolk employing about 300 people.

"A lot of people I knew worked there at the factory. It was a great source for jobs," said Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder, who grew up on Church Hill at 28th and P streets.
During his childhood, Wilder walked by the Nolde bakery almost everyday on his way to and from school. Wilder said he "was always attracted by the smell of the bread or cakes or whatever else they were cooking."

Years later, Wilder's law offices were across the street from the building.

Nolde Bakery was known for its pound cake but also made whole wheat, rye, French and raisin breads and rolls. By 1950, Nolde's three plants had 450 employees and a weekly production of 800,000 pounds of bread, making it one of the largest independent bakeries in the country at the time.

Nolde was a sponsor of Richmond's Sailor Bob television show, and children who went to the show or those who visited the plant received a miniature wrapped loaf of Nolde's bread.
In 1974, the Nolde family sold the business to Interstate Brands Inc. The Church Hill bakery closed in 1977 and became home to Goodwill Industries, which ran a training center and retail store there until 1999.

The Nolde Bakery Condominiums, which are slated for completion at the end of the year, will range in size from 800 to 1,600 square feet.

The 77 units will be priced from $199,000 to $400,000, according to Millie Green with ReMax Commonwealth, who is the listing agent.

There also will be covered parking for each resident, individual storage units in the basement, elevators and a full security system. About 15 of the units will have mezzanine levels with a bedroom or study and a full bath upstairs.

Gadams, the project's developer, said the target buyer will be young professionals, Virginia Commonwealth University medical students and empty-nesters who "love the city and love the energy of it."

"At the end of the day we want to provide a high-end, quality product to enhance the community and a product that every one in Church Hill will be proud to be a part of," Gadams said. "And I think that is what we have in the Nolde Bakery."

Wilder said that once the condominium project is completed, it will bring back a lot of memories for him and other Richmonders.

"The Nolde [project] speaks well for what is happening all over Church Hill, and I hope we will be seeing more of it," he said.

The Richmond Times Dispatch, Apr 3, 2005

No comments:

Post a Comment