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The Southern Stove Lofts were featured in a Richmond Times Dispatch article available below.

Old foundry is hot again

Former Southern Stove Works site to be converted into loft apartments

Jul 24, 2005
BY CAROL HAZARD
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER

If walls could talk, these would tell about beer, tobacco -- and stoves: Work, life and a piece of Richmond history.

Southern Stove Works is stamped across one of three buildings that will be turned into apartments at the corner of Hermitage and Leigh streets near the Diamond.

It's been decades since the buildings were used to make wood- and coal-burning stoves. Most recently, the middle building was a warehouse for specialty beers.

Long in between, it was used to dry and store tobacco.

Fresh paint will be applied to the fading white lettering on the building and the word "Lofts" will be added.

Southern Stove Works Lofts will have 190 one-, two- and three-bedrooms apartments.

The first tenants are expected to move in next summer, said project manager Claes Tholand.

Apartments will range from 850 square feet to 1,500 square feet each. Rents will be from $800 to $900 for one-bedroom apartments and $1,200 to $1,500 for two- and three-bedroom apartments.

Across the street are the fully leased Todd Lofts apartments, also in a renovated historic building.

"Renovating old buildings with rich history . . . is a wonderful enterprise, especially when they can be reused in ways consistent with today's lifestyle," said the building's owners.

The owners formed a company called Aneka Guna to do the project. The name is derived from Sanskrit roots suggestive of "varied uses."

"Successfully doing this allows these otherwise outdated buildings to be brought back into the fabric of a thriving city," the owners said.

The $18 million renovation is in the selective demolition stage.

The buildings are being power-washed and sandblasted. New roofs, windows and wood floors will be added. Then comes the reconstruction of 175,000 square feet of space and the addition of more square feet.

The cavernous main stove works building is a single story with a 60-foot-tall ceiling and steel trusses. The structure will be converted into apartments with upper-level lofts and a floor-to-ceiling corridor in the center.

The foundry was built in 1902. Its roof system was made with 8-inch poured concrete as a fire barrier for sparks and soot from the stoves.

The premises were purchased by J.P. Taylor Leaf Tobacco Co. in 1921.

A three-story middle building is reinforced with heavy timbers. Bricks on the south side of the middle building are pitted from battering by barrels, or hog sheads, loaded with tobacco.

Up until a month ago, it housed beers from Austria, Germany and Eastern Europe.

This building will be turned into flats. "Very sexy," Tholand said.

The ground floor apartments will have patios, the second floor will have balconies and the third floor will have "extraordinary views," he said.

The third building will become garden apartments with patios and a corridor in the middle. The one-story building was originally used to dry porcelain paints on stoves.

The garden apartments and the middle building will overlook a swimming pool.

The property for Southern Stove Works Lofts is a few blocks north of Broad Street, an extension of the historic Fan area, the owners say.

"All the amenities of the Fan are available to residents in this area," but they will have a pool, an exercise room, a community center and ample parking, the owners said.

Sarah McInerney, an intern architect with Walter Parks Architect in Richmond, said the design features open spaces.

"We were able to incorporate the openness you feel now into new spaces. We created a variety of apartments. We tried to make it exciting spatially."

The apartments will have granite countertops and ceramic floors in kitchens and bathrooms.

The general contractor is Conquest Moncure & Dunn in Richmond.

Any ideas? Staff writer Carol Hazard can be reached at (804) 775-8023 or chazard@timesdispatch.com