In a potential victory for those of us who want to see as much of Norfolk’s history preserved as possible, there are plans in place to adapt the old American Cigar Factory at 1148 East Princess Anne Road in Norfolk into 91 one bedroom apartments.
According to a website that recently went live–where these images are from–the first units will be available in December 2016.
“built near to the poorer African American section of Norfolk for easy access to an inexpensive labor force, particularly African American women who represented most of the workforce for many years… By employing African Americans exclusively in one factory, or one area of a factory, owners could keep wages below industry standards and overlook health and safety standards. Even with poor ventilation, hot and dusty air, inhumane toilet facilities, and low wages, the work was still generally better than domestic service in that it offered higher pay, fewer hours, and more independence.”
AltDaily: This building has been a favorite of mine for years— I’m delighted that it will be rehabbed and retro-fitted, rather than torn down, which seems to be the norm in Norfolk and Hampton Roads. Tell us about your thought process in saving the building rather than starting fresh.
The history is significantly important to the neighborhood, City, and culture. Not a lot of these left with this importance. Because of this history is why the few remaining structures like this must be preserved or lost forever.
From a developer perspective, does the government offer as much incentives as they should to encourage people to make historic structures work? What could they be doing better?
Obviously we’re not dealing with a very sound structure at the moment — entire walls are missing. What are the steps in this process from battered shell to livable residences?
An important worker’s right moment happened at the old cigar factory. What’s it like on the working level these days? Is it good to be a construction worker in Hampton Roads in 2015?
According to your website, the existing stemmery building will be completely renovated into 91 one bedroom apartments. a) Who are you imagining as clientele? b) Why go in this direction for a whole building?
What are your favorite parts of the neighborhood surrounding the project?
Last question: What are your top three adaptive re-use projects in the area, and why?