Sometimes referred to as “South Side” or even “Dogtown”, Manchester is located on the southern side of the James River directly across from downtown Richmond.
Manchester served as Chesterfield’s county seat until it became an independent city in 1874. Like Richmond to its North, Manchester was an active trade port for mostly tobacco, coal, and slaves. Richmond and Manchester operated independently for years with ferries and toll bridges providing the only means for residents to cross the river. When the cities agreed to merge in 1910, a permanent, free bridge was finally constructed.
Over the years, Manchester developed an industrial center along the river, a busy retail area along Hull Street and residential neighborhoods elsewhere. Residential and retail thrived until the early 1970s when public housing construction brought about change in the neighborhoods and retail establishments moved to newer venues. Many businesses, however, continued to utilize the industrial structures along the river and one, Overnite Transportation, even built their headquarters there. Many of the public housing structures came full circle in 1999 when the City began cleaning up the area and demolishing blighted buildings.
The area didn’t see much investment by public facing businesses again until the early 90s. Legend Brewing Company was probably the most successful early investment with a tasting room and pub overlooking downtown and the James River. And it’s still running strong today! Additional significant projects came along in the early 2000s when the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts sold almost 200 parcels that had been bequeathed to them by J. Harwood Cochrane, the founder of Overnite Transportation. In 2004, Fountainhead properties adapted a former factory and warehouse building known as Plant Zero for apartments and artist studios as well as commercial, events and restaurant space. Since then, there has been a slow steady stream of adaptive re-use and new construction projects, but the real momentum has developed over the last four years.
Here are some of the more notable projects:
- Old Manchester Lofts – Originally a bakery built in 1895 converted to 80 condominiums in 2004 by Miller & Associates
- 1301 Porter Street – Restored apartment building completed in 2006 by Miller & Associates.
- The Terraces at Manchester – An award winning new construction and urban in-fill 10 story luxury apartment building completed in 2015. The building was sold two years later for just over $30M.
- 1200 Semmes Avenue – Another new construction and urban in-fill 148 unit luxury apartment building.
- Manchester Green – An entire City block of new construction by Urban Development Associates consisting of single family townhomes and duplexes now underway.
- City View Landing – Reynolds South Tower – A new 10 story apartment building under construction beside the floodwall on Sixth Street.
- City View Lofts – A warehouse converted into modern apartments.
- 7West – 12 new, modern, single family townhomes overlooking the downtown skyline and James River currently under construction by Pareto Development & Construction Services.
And now for the fun stuff… Here are just a few of Manchester’s hot spots:
- Legend Brewing Company – Sit outside on the patio, enjoy one of the original micro-brews and take in an impressive view of the downtown skyline.
- Plant Zero – Art. Food. Party.
- Camden’s Dogtown Market – A cozy spot for lunch or dinner.
- Brewer’s Cafe – Great little spot to grab a cup o’ joe.
- Iron Clad Pizza – Just your friendly neighborhood pizza and sports bar!
- The Floodwall Park – Take a stroll along the top of the flood wall or drop your kayak in..
- The Butterbean – Coming soon! A neighborhood market serving up espresso, soups, sandwiches and maybe a bit of groceries.
- Hot Diggity Donuts – Also coming to the Manchester neighborhood in the next few months. Donuts and cocktails… what more could you want?