When the history of Richmond’s Downtown redevelopment is written, there needs to be a chapter on the Emrick Flats.
Emrick, built within the old bones of the former Chevrolet building in Jackson Ward, did not apologize for what it was. It was a concrete, steel and glass warehouse built on an odd triangular lot just off Broad along Adams Street and Brook Road. The Emrick project was a complete reversal and departure from suburban development which had defined Richmond’s housing market for the last 40 years. It was a fascinating offering to the market as no one in our market had seen anything like it, much less in a neighborhood as in flux as Jackson Ward.
The two tricks to marketing Emrick were a) to demonstrate the power of the architecture and b) to be able to explain the development momentum that was building east of VCU. While photography is important in any brochure, Emrick especially lent itself to photography far better than almost any other building we had represented. The unique look of the concrete and glass with minimal finishes was striking and made our print materials and ‘E Blasts’ memorable and powerful.
While the photography made it (somewhat) easier to create memorable images in the mind of the market, the hardest part of selling Emrick was overcoming the recent past of Jackson Ward and selling the future of Downtown. For the majority of Richmond, recent memories of JW and Historic Broad Street were not fond ones and convincing people that the trend towards urban blight had reversed itself was challenging. Changing perceptions and expectations required educating each and every Realtor and their client mostly by being able to explain what was under development as well as what was next to be redeveloped. Selling Emrick was selling the new Richmond. There was a lot of homework involved.
I am especially proud of what we did with Emrick as we really helped educate the buying public and the Realtor community about Downtown and what was going on in Jackson Ward (an Manchester, and Carver, and Shockoe.) I like to say that we didn’t know any more than anyone else did when we started but we made a conscious effort to learn. I would like to think that we played a role in the reemergence of Downtown by helping to be the mouthpiece to the Realtor community. To this day, we still get calls from suburban agents asking if we can help them find a place for their client in the neighborhoods that comprise Downtown Richmond.