City's first skyscraper to become apartments

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If you build it they will come - that's the new philosophy of a developer in downtown Richmond --- who's prepared to give the historic First National Bank building a second chance.

What was once the first building in Richmond to reach for the sky- is now trying to find to a new niche. Built in 1913- the First National Bank building on Main Street was the city's only skyscraper.

It wasn't surpassed as the tallest building in Richmond until 1930. By 2010- its last banking client- BB&T had moved out.

Rushmark Properties out of Fairfax is investing 30 million dollars to turn the building into downtown housing.

First National Bank joins the John Marshall Hotel in the office-building-turned-apartments switch. 238 units are going in here. Experts say this is all a sign of the times.

"There's money for it. I mean multi family is kind of leading the charge," said John B Levy, the owners of a real estate investment bank in Richmond

"The office building market downtown, especially in the "B" buildings, which are the older smaller buildings, is probably 20 plus percent vacant," he explained.

Levy says the city's downtown commercial market is soft right now and that the apartment market is growing- a direct symptom of the housing crash. "What these owners are doing is exactly the right things. they're going for the highest and best use."

New apartments- in an area of the city where there's not as much housing.

"I think it's going to help revitalize or vitalize for that matter the downtown Richmond area," said Chisholm. His company will manage the building once it's completed.

Construction is underway now and should wrap up by November of this year.

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