Planned Scott’s Addition apartments skirt city’s ‘windowless unit’ ban

City Council grants special use permit, citing developer’s willingness to creatively add sources of natural light.

Just a day after we reported on the high level of redevelopment interest in the HandCraft Cleaners building in the burgeoning Scott’s Addition neighborhood, another nearby building has been cleared for redevelopment as apartment units.

Thalhimer Realty Partners received a special use permit to renovate a building at 3200 West Clay Street into 90 apartment units. The catch is, 13 of those units would not have traditional windows.

In 2012, Richmond City Council issued a resolution generally banning windowless units, which stated in part that “windowless dwelling units should be avoided as a general premise.”

Council members cited worries over studies that have shown mental health issues such as depression can be brought on by lack of natural lighting over a period of time, as well as doubts about said units’ long-term desirability as trends and housing preferences change.

The project’s architect, Walter Parks, eventually won over City Council on Monday after an hour long review, with a plan to creatively solve the problem of units with no natural light.

Parks proposes ‘pop-up light boxes,’ which he says are floorless window boxes that funnel light down from the ceiling into the units, along with other creative measures.

Once completed, the new apartment building will have amenities such as a rooftop pool, fitness center, business center, clubhouse and a 67-space parking garage, according to Richmond BizSense.

Photo: Burl Rolett/Richmond BizSense

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Trevor Dickerson

Trevor Dickerson loves all things Richmond and manages RVANews’ West of the Boulevard and West End community sites.

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