We originally announced Jeremy Connell’s 7 West project a year ago in our Construction Starts on 7 West article. Demolition and site work commenced shortly thereafter. Then everything seemingly came to a grinding halt. So it goes when navigating the permit process at Richmond’s City Hall.
Permits have been taking an exceptionally long time these days. And with construction occurring at a rapid clip throughout developing neighborhoods such as Manchester and Scott’s Addition, there are a large number of permits that City officials must review. By way of example, the various rehab projects along Hull Street took 3-4 months for permits to be issued. That is an incredibly long time to wait especially when construction firms need to put food on the table for their workers and subcontractors.
But 7 West didn’t stall simply because of the long wait time for permits. This project also had a unique retaining wall challenge. The site sits directly adjacent to the Manchester Bridge ramp just west of the site. Apparently when the Manchester Bridge was built, engineers did not shore up the ramp properly. Now that the 7 West project was beginning to start construction directly next to the bridge, City officials rightfully became concerned about the safety of the on ramp. Why this wasn’t sorted out decades ago is anyone’s guess. But the 7 West project had to stop work as a result so this issue could be rectified.
The word on the street is that Jeremy Connell’s Pareto LLC had to bear the unexpected cost of installing a new retaining wall and pilings to shore up the on ramp to the City’s Manchester Bridge. That sure seems like a jagged pill to swallow for a private landowner to bear, especially one who is investing millions of dollars to improve the Manchester neighborhood as it is. Nonetheless, as the old saying goes…you can’t fight City Hall.
It is fantastic to see progress start again on this project. Hopefully things go smoothly from here on out, and the 7 West team doesn’t experience any more last minute curveballs. Development in Richmond is certainly not for the faint of heart. But I have a feeling this project is going to be worth the wait.