ws ws_case_studies

Washington Square

Situation: Aspiring to complete the revitalization of an entire city block in downtown Suffolk, The Monument Companies undertook the redevelopment of 5 contiguous buildings (56,000 sq/ft) located at 121-149 W. Washington Street in 2013. The buildings were badly damaged from a major fire and been left exposed to the elements for years, creating significant structural issues and a major eye sore for the otherwise impressive downtown thoroughfare.  Sharing that block were the Lofts at One Eleven, a successful mixed use Monument project that wrapped up in 2012. With all of the buildings qualifying for historic tax credits, this project would surely be rewarding but posed many challenges the developer team would have to creatively overcome.  Monument joint ventured with Sensei Development, a long standing development partner, for the development of both the Lofts at One Eleven and Washington Square.

Challenges:Unique hurdles, such as zoning regulations and architectural challenges, set this project apart from others done by this duo. The property was not zoned for residential use, and there was no process by which an exception could be made through standard zoning/planning variances. Refusing to relinquish, Monument and Sensei quickly worked with Suffolk’s Planning and Economic Development departments to craft a new city ordinance giving the Planning Department and City Council the authority to approve zoning variances, which was ultimately approved paving the way for the development. Architecturally, Washington Square was just that – square – which posed lighting challenges. The developers worked closely with the National Park Service and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to facilitate an ample amount of natural light throughout the buildings using large light wells, all while ensuring compliance with historic tax credit guidelines.

Resolution: With high-end amenities and convenient location, it was not difficult to fill the 71 residential units and 5 commercial spaces in late 2014. Bringing 5 brand new businesses to an otherwise derelict section of downtown Suffolk, this development is arguably the most transformative in the Monument portfolio to date. A major ribbon-cutting ceremony concluded the project in December 2014, when Suffolk Mayor Linda Johnson thanked Monument and Sensei for their continued investment in Suffolk, adding “this block has never looked so good in my lifetime”.