Beckstoffer’s Block in Richmond, VA has won a 2015 Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Award in the Green Housing category.

Photo courtesy of Better Housing Coalition

Located in the historic Richmond, Virginia neighborhood of Church Hill, the Beckstoffer’s Block development is a three-phase plan to revitalize the 1200 block of North 28th Street. Developer The Better Housing Coalition has exhibited an ongoing commitment to the revitalization of Church Hill, but the need for safe, healthy housing in the area remains critical. The developments that make up Beckstoffer’s Block received positive support from residents as well as local businesses, churches, civic groups, and the City of Richmond. 

Phase I of Beckstoffer’s Block is the adaptive re-use of an historic lumber mill into 22 high-quality, energy efficient affordable rental apartments with modern appliances, fixtures, and amenities. Phase II established Somanath Senior Apartments at Beckstoffer’s, a smaller, seven unit one-story bulding which is a “net zero energy” building – the first of its kind in Virginia. As a whole the property meets EarthCraft’s Tier III standards for energy efficiency, and includes a 1,800 square foot rooftop sensory garden. 

Beckstoffer’s Block units are certified for sustainability and energy efficiency, demonstrating that buildings more than a century old can be outfitted with modern energy-saving features. Beckstoffer’s Block units are at least 15 percent more efficient than an average code-built home. Highly efficient HVAC systems and a tight building envelope with cellulose blow insulation ensure residents experience lower energy bills and high indoor air quality. The property also includes sustainable landscaping including three underground cisterns collectively holding 47,000 gallons of water used for irrigation and to manage storm water runoff. 

In Phase II, the “net zero energy” units have HERS Index Score of 20, which means that units are 80 percent more efficient than their standard code-built counterparts. Phase II also utilizes six rooftop panels to generate heat for two 110-gallon tanks and 71 photovoltaic panels to provide power for electricity. Ductless mini-split HVAC systems in each unit eliminate heating and cooling losses and reduce maintenance needs. Each unit also contains high-performance double-glazed windows, EnergyStar appliances, and WaterSense plumbing fixtures. 

Phase I of Beckstoffer’s Block has received the 2013 Virginia Housing Award for Best Housing Preservation/Revitalization Effort and the 2012 J. Timothy Anderson Award for Excellence in Historic Rehab. It was also a finalist for the 2012 Urban Land Institute’s Jack Kemp Workforce Housing Models of Excellence Award. Phase II received the 2014 Greater Virginia Green Building Council Leadership Award for Best Residential Project, the 2014 Virginia Housing Awards’ Best Affordable Housing Energy Conservation Effort, and the 2014 EarthCraft Virginia Sustainable Leadership Award for Multifamily New Construction Project of the Year. It was also a finalist in two categories of the 2013 Richmond Urban Land Institute’s Vision Awards: Best Multifamily Housing Award and Building Healthy Communities Award. 

Several sources of financing made Beckstoffer’s Block Phases I and II possible. Capital One provided equity for $1.1 million in Historic Tax Credits while Bank of America Merrill Lynch provided $3.6 million in equity for 9 percent Housing Credits and $82,000 in energy credits. The project received additional significant funding support from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Capital One, Richmond Memorial Health Foundation, Dominion, The Cabell Foundation, Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, and Wells Fargo. 

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