Story: Church Hill North Retail Center

The Sponsor

Steven Markel, the Project developer, is the Vice Chairman of Markel Corporation, a holding company for insurance, reinsurance, and investment operations. Founded in 1930 and headquartered in Richmond, VA, the Markel Corporation has sixteen subsidiaries including three real estate-related companies.

Separate from his work with the Markel Corporation, Mr. Markel has successfully developed commercial real estate projects around the country for over 20 years. Mr. Markel has served on the Boards of several financial institutions and is a member of the Virginia Commonwealth University Real Estate Circle of Excellence, which supports local development by advising developers on educational and research programs and offering students internships and scholarships

The Project

Broadstreet committed $8 million of LISC’s New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation, with Capital One as the investor, to support the construction of a new, 123,875 square foot mixed-use center. The project includes a grocery store, a wellness center operated by Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), commercial and retail space, and 54 rental units in the Church Hill North neighborhood.

LISC’s $8M in allocation was combined with $18.5M in allocation from City First Bank ($8M), The Community Builders ($2.5M), Capital One CDE ($5M), and Boston Community Capital ($3M) for a total of $26.5M in allocation to support the budget. At $40 million, Church Hill North Retail Center represents the single largest investment in the neighborhood to date and will set the standard for future developments.

Impact Statistics

  • $8M NMSC NMTC Allocation
  • 81 Permanent Jobs Created
  • 3,500 Students Served Annually
  • 14 Affordable Rental Housing Units

The Impact

Known as the first neighborhood in Richmond, Church Hill North gained early notoriety as the site of Patrick Henry’s famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech in 1775, and many of the homes in the neighborhood date back to before the Civil War. Although bustling with activity for nearly two centuries, starting in the 1950s, Church Hill North declined as many residents and businesses moved out of the community. Part of a LISC Sustainable Community, Church Hill North has been a high priority for Virginia LISC.

Construction on the project was completed in 2019. The primary goal of the project was to promote healthy living by providing access to healthy food options, educational resources, and affordable housing. Prior to the addition of the Market @ 25th, a full-service grocery store, the Church Hill North community was considered a food desert with limited availability of healthy food options in immediate walking distance. The opening of the Market @ 25th provided access to multiple food options, employment opportunities, and community collaboration. Other anchoring tenants such as the VCU Health Hub, the Kitchens at Reynolds, and the Boys and Girls Club have provided health and educational resources to all age groups within the community. The Flats @ 25th provides access to housing for 14 low-income individuals through wage-based housing.

The Kitchens at Reynolds, a state-of-the-art facility for Reynolds Community College’s Culinary School program, opened its doors in July 2020. The pandemic required the college to pivot to remote learning, but the program adapted its instruction, providing loaner laptops to students lacking at-home technology and restructured classes to teach small and safely distanced cohorts. Beyond culinary instruction, the Kitchens at Reynolds offers a front door to more than 90 academic and workforce credentials. General education courses are taught at the Kitchens, and the Sustainable Agriculture course utilizes a large garden plot adjacent to the facility. The Kitchens at Reynolds has onsite staff to advise residents on workforce training and academic pathways, and give hands-on help with applying for enrollment, financialaid, and wraparound services to keep students financially stable enough to complete their programs. Programs in and near the Kitchens are designed for efficient completion, generous financial assistance, and strong hiring rates.