Whether you’ve lived in Olde Richmond for 50 days or 50 years, you’re surely aware of the old industrial building at 2501 E. Hagert St., and you’ve probably given its future quite a bit of thought. This building, commonly known as the Galvo, was home to the Cattie Galvanizing Company for many decades. As the name suggests, this company was in the galvanization business, which entails dipping steel or iron into molten zinc baths to prevent rusting or corrosion. We use galvanized steel for a variety of purposes, but living near a galvanizing facility is as awesome as it sounds, which is to say not awesome at all. While it was still operational, the Galvo threw all sorts of nasty chemicals into the air, and we have to think that the air quality has dramatically improved in the area since its closing over a decade ago.
With all the chemicals and heavy elements associated with galvanization, the building and the land at 2501 E. Hagert St. are quite contaminated. We can’t imagine that too many people would be sorry to see the old industrial building torn down and for something productive to get built in its place, but near neighbors are understandably concerned that any demolition activity could release toxic dust throughout the area. Accordingly, the Olde Richmond Civic Association has kept a close eye on the property and any possible redevelopment plans, intent on keeping the neighborhood as safe as possible. You may recall, when we last checked in on this property in the summer of 2018, ORCA was appealing a demolition permit for the Galvo, arguing that the demo contractor didn’t have the capability to safety bring down the building. And indeed, over a year and a half later, the building has not yet been torn down.
Finally though, it seems like there’s some momentum toward redevelopment of this property. The developers met with the community a few months ago and their proposal was voted down, but we now understand that they’re negotiating a Community Benefits Agreement to get the neighborhood on board with the project. Assuming all of that goes well, we can imagine a scenario in which something starts moving forward here later this year.
Thanks to the magic of CDR, we can tell you that the developers are planning to demo the Galvo (obv) and to build 27 town homes in its place. One row of homes will front Hagert while the other row will front Letterly, and a drive aisle will run between the rows of homes. The homes on Hagert will be mostly uniform, but the Letterly homes will all be different and feature staggered setbacks, to account for the narrowing of the property as it approaches Almond Street. Please allow us to show you a site plan and some renderings, to give you a better sense of what to expect, with credit to KJO Architecture for the design work.
This feels like a no brainer of a project, assuming the environmental concerns can be worked out. Given the history of the property, it’s still zoned for industrial use, but this is one of those industrial parcels that nobody actually wants to see used for industrial purposes, so we suspect the developers will be successful at the ZBA. Assuming the project does happen, it will make for a nice partner development to Hagert Square, the 30 home project from a few years back that’s just on the other side of Gaul Street. Incidentally, that property was associated with the Galvo when it was still operating, so it feels like a natural fit that the Galvo site would eventually develop in a similar fashion to its neighbor across the street.