RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Shockoe Bottom is apparently bursting at the seams. Three major multi-million dollar apartment complexes are under construction this summer.
In a 5 block radius, from the corner of Main and 21st streets, there are more than 2,492 apartments. This time next year there will be nearly 3,000.
There's 21st and Broad; The fence is up and dirt is moving. This area will hold 74 units, with commercial space and below-ground parking.
Then there's Cedar and Broad; A 204 unit complex surrounding the McDonald's restaurant. When completed it will stand 4-stories high and have room for businesses.
And finally, there's Shockoe Valley Heights at the corner of Main and 21st; When the entire block is completed, there will be 224 units with space for a restaurant.
Thomas Dickey and other developers say the Bottom is where people are headed.
"There's just a lot to do here. It's kind of an artificial version of the city like you find in Short Pump. I mean this is it, this is Richmond's urban center," said Dickey.
According to city records, there are nearly 40,000 apartments across Richmond and only a little more than 2,600 are empty. That's a vacancy rate of 6.7% in the month of June.
Can the Bottom sustain all this growth? Warren Wakeland with the Home Builders Association thinks it can.
"Builders don't build unless the market tells them that there's a demand for where they're building," he said.
He also says the housing crisis has lead to an increase in the number of renters.
"People want entertainment at their feet. They want to be able to walk out the door turn right and go to the restaurant, go to the club, and Shockoe offers that," Wakeland added.
Builders say this boom isn't over yet. Chris Johnson is with Monument Construction. He said, "The more people you have living here, the more demand you're going to have for restaurants and commercial stores and everything else. That will make it even a better place to live."
All of these new projects will be finished by 2012.