Imperial Lofts History
INDUSTRIAL TO MIXED-USE
The Imperial Tobacco Company warehouse is an evolved industrial complex initially constructed circa 1890, now renovated into a mixed-use complex, including market-rate rental housing – one- and two- bedroom “loft-style” residences – known as Imperial Lofts.
The buildings in the complex are brick masonry construction with a brick foundation and a flat roof; laid in a five-course common American bond. The exterior walls are marked by decorative corbeled brick parapets and cornices, as well as recessed brick panels. Jack arches top window openings, the northeast elevation enjoying a stepped parapet.
The development of the complex started adjacent to the railroad line and gradually encompassed the entire block from the tracks to Watkins Avenue. Several additions, which match the original portions of the complex in materials and design, were constructed at the northeast portion of the site between 1913 and 1918. The footprint of the building remains relatively intact, with a few additions constructed after 1947, including infill of a historic light well at the center of the original building – which will be re-opened as part of the renovation.
The Imperial Tobacco Company complex is representative of South Boston’s industrial development during the district’s period of significance from 1854 to 1958. As one of the earliest surviving buildings, the complex also represents the city’s tobacco trade industry, which peaked in the early 20th century when it became the second largest bright leaf tobacco market in the United States.
The Imperial Tobacco Company Ltd. used the site as a tobacco processing facility ca 1913. The next owner of the property was the Tultex Corporation which used the site for the manufacture/sewing of garments from the mid-1960s until March 2000. At that point the plant shuttered and – until this redevelopment effort beginning in 2017 – had largely been used as warehouse space and interim short-term industrial uses.
The Imperial Lofts project was redeveloped by Echelon Resources, an experienced development team with a long history of success with adaptive reuse projects. This project utilized both federal and Virginia historic rehabilitation tax credits which require that any significant historic features be preserved and highlighted. The project plans were reviewed in detail and approved by both the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the National Park Service, with regards to compliance with the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. Phase 1 of this project was delivered in September 2018, Phase 2 in December 2018. For more information and tours, please Contact Us.
The Imperial Tobacco Company warehouse is an evolved industrial complex initially constructed circa 1890, now renovated into a mixed-use complex, including market-rate rental housing – one- and two- bedroom “loft-style” residences – known as Imperial Lofts (also with a large self-storage facility and various commercial spaces for lease). The parking and grounds have also been revamped. The historic features were preserved and highlighted as this project utilized federal and state historic rehabilitation tax credits, so the redevelopment design is overseen by both the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the federal National Park Service.
- June 2016 | Town leaders introduced to Developer
- November 2016 | Developer submits proposal to Town
- February 2017 | Town unanimously approves proposal
- September 2017 | Approvals received from Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the federal National Park Service
- November 2017 | Project construction loan closes, demolition begins
- January 2018 | County issues building permit, Phase 1 construction begins
- September 2018 | Phase 1 completion (42 apartments, 30,000 sf of self-storage)
- December 2018 | Phase 2 completion (3 apartments, 11,000 sf commercial space)
- April 2020 | Phase 3 completion (26 apartments)