HOLMBERG: Old cookie factory apartments to overlook Redskins park

Posted at 12:22 AM, Jul 11, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Just plain luck?

A partnership of developers buy the old FFV Interbake cookie and cracker factory in midtown Richmond to turn it into a historic apartment complex. One year later the city decides to build the new Redskins training park in the shadow of the sprawling building.

What a bonus – to be able to offer dozens of apartments (out of the 178 that will fill the old factory) that have front row seats to the Redskins summer camp here, that starts July 25.

Consider the nine-and-a-half-acre property was sold to the developers in late 2011 for a little more than $6 million. They bought it from developer Douglas Jemal, who had purchased it in 2006 from Interbake.

The first news about a solid chance the ‘Skins could move their training park in Richmond came in early 2012. Here’s the scoop dished by the Times-Dispatch’s Paul Woody, March 7, 2012:

“The Washington Redskins confirmed today that the team is looking at Richmond as a possible site for its summer preseason training camp.

The three-week camp would involve more than 150 people, including about 90 players and prospects, as well as coaches, trainers and other support staff, said Eric J. Finkbeiner, a Richmond lawyer acting as local consultant to the Redskins.”

Brian McNeal is part of the Interbake Partnership of developers transforming the old cookie factory. He remembers hearing the news that the park would be in the shadow of their property.

“We couldn’t ask for better neighbors,” he said with a smile.

The project will feature a gym, swimming pool, plenty of basement and surface parking, little crime, a central location and, of course, the ‘Skins for three weeks out of the year.

There will be one-, two-, three-bedroom and some studio apartments, along with more luxurious two-story loft townhomes. Yes, those who want apartments overlooking the training park will pay a little extra, McNeal said.

Demolition began in March and construction is well underway. This week, painters have been covering the graffiti on the historic FFV water tower, in time for the Redskins camp.

McNeal said the project should be complete and the apartments filled, or filling, by next summer – in time for the ‘Skins second training visit to Richmond.

This has always been a sweet property, opening as the Southern Biscuit Works in 1899.

According to the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service National Register of Historic Places registration form:

The Southern Biscuit Company building is an industrial building whose water tower and distinctive roof-top sign have been Richmond landmarks for 84 years. The six-story reinforced concrete building was constructed in 1927 and expanded four times. The exterior is defined by a rusticated base and Doric pilasters and concrete piers that flank multilight industrial windows.

The interior space is characterized by grids of concrete columns with flared tops and maple floors. Designed and built for the Southern Biscuit Company, the building served that business as well as FFV (Famous Foods of Virginia) and its successor, Interbake Foods, Inc., until the facility closed in 2006. The property includes one contributing building (the baking factory), one contributing object (the lighted rooftop sign) and one contributing structure (the rooftop water tower).

The building and its additions were designed by Francisco & Jacobus Engineers and Architects, a New York-based firm that specialized in designing industrial factories. The firm’s work includes a number of contributing tobacco warehouse buildings in Richmond’s National Register Historic Districts, and the individually listed Clay, Henry and Bock Company Cigar Factory in Trenton, New York (listed 1979).

The Southern Biscuit Works, a Richmond-based bakery company, was founded in 1899. In 1927, the company changed its name from Southern Biscuit Works to the Southern Biscuit Company. At the same time, the company constructed a new headquarters building and central plant on Terminal Place, near the intersection of Broad Street and Boulevard.

The Southern Biscuit Company building was designed by the New York-based industrial engineering and architecture firm of Francisco & Jacobus, which designed buildings predominately in the mid-Atlantic, the northeast, and Chicago. In 1939, the Southern Biscuit Company became an officially licensed baker of Girl Scout cookies, a successful move that led to a round of expansions at the Terminal Place building. It was also around this time that Southern Biscuit began producing under the brand FFV."

Are you excited to see these apartments built? Are you more likely to rent there because of the proximity to the Redskins training camp?