New apartments, retail space coming to Broad St.

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Two downtown buildings are in for a makeover. They are the first ever projects to be financed under Mayor Dwight Jones proposed Arts and Cultural District.

The city is lending the developer $250,000 for a more than $3 million project to renovate one building on Grace Street and one on Broad Street into apartments and commercial space.

Abandoned on broad for years, Morton's Jewelry store is about to become 24 apartments with retail space on the ground floor.

The developer says the project also fits in with Mayor Jones' plan to designate 65 city blocks from Broad to Belvidere into an Arts and Cultural District.

"A newer concept in the city called Live Work space. Where artists can sell there wares in the lower level and live upstairs," said developer Mike Glass with The Becca Group.

The apartments will rent from $600 to $1,000

"This particular project with retail and affordable unites upstairs. That's exactly what we want. We want to move people downtown," Mayor Jones announced the creation the Arts and Cultural District two months ago to help fill in the gaps of rundown properties and spur new development.

"We have done well on the east end of Broad and on the west end of Broad. But in between, we have work to do," Jones said.

The district's boundary still needs approval from city council, but council Vice President Ellen Robertson says this project gives everyone a sense of how it will work. "This is a key block to Broad Street so this would be the catalyst for change in this block."

Construction is expected to begin in June with the apartments leasing by next summer.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.