The revitalization of downtown Richmond, Virginia, in the 21st century has been a slow process, beginning in the financial center near the State Capitol Building and migrating slowly westward along Broad Street, the traditional retail avenue of the City. One by one over the course of the past several years, large, iconic buildings have been rehabilitated for new and exciting uses. These buildings have long been associated with the history of the City itself: the Miller & Rhoads Department Store, the John Marshall Hotel, the First National Bank Building, and the Hotel Richmond among others.

The Central National Bank (CNB) Building was built at the dawn of the Great Depression and eventually became one of the last Art Deco style skyscrapers remaining in downtown Richmond. Its location in the neglected western fringe area of Broad Street made it the next logical target for rehabilitation.

When Douglas Development purchased the vacant building in 2005, they were buying the crowning piece of architecture that they hoped would become the linchpin project to spur the revitalization of the surrounding neighborhood. That lofty goal was not without challenges, of course, and it took 8 years to put the project together and start the building's renovation. The complications inherent in the rehabilitation of any iconic 75-year old building listed on the National Register of Historic Places to suit continued use for contemporary life also clearly came into play.

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Author notes

1. Principal and Director of Historic Architecture for Commonwealth Architects, a 40-person multi-discipline architectural firm in Richmond, VA. Website:

2. Associate and Project Manager for Commonwealth Architects.