Contemporary home furnishings retailer LaDiff has chosen a new location for its retail store, which is expected to open next spring in Richmond’s Manchester area, its owners said.
LaDiff has closed on the purchase of a new location at 1011 Commerce St. at the corner of Gordon Street in South Richmond, about 1.6 miles from the current store in Shockoe Bottom, owners Andy Thornton and Sarah Paxton said Wednesday.
The 5-acre site will house a new LaDiff furnishings store, and if long-term plans for the site develop as expected, it also would become part of a larger project called “LaDiff Village” that would include some residential and mixed-used development, the owners said.
“We believe that Manchester is going to be the next frontier, and obviously huge parts are already under major development,” Thornton said. “Commerce Street is pretty untapped at this point. There is open space.”
“This is 5 acres of property, which for a mile and a half from downtown is pretty hard to fathom,” he said. “It has incredible views of downtown, so we are still physically and visually connected to downtown, which is one of our strong desires.”
LaDiff announced plans to move from its current location in August after the building at 14th and Dock streets was sold for $10.5 million on Aug. 11.
The current LaDiff building was acquired by SNP La Diff LLC, which is an entity tied to SNP Properties LLC, a Richmond-based development and acquisition company.
Thornton founded what was then called LaDifference in Charlottesville in 1980, but moved the store to the Richmond area in 1992.
Paxton, who started working at the store in 1991 as an assistant housewares manager and buyer, is now president. She and Thornton were married in December 1995. In 2014, the name of the store was changed to LaDiff.
The newly acquired site has three buildings, including a former State Electric Supply Co. showroom, which LaDiff’s owners plan to convert into a 12,000-square-foot, single-story furnishings showroom, along with extra storage and the addition of another 3,000 square feet of open-air space for showing outdoor furniture.
“It is going to get a major face-lift,” Paxton said of the current building.
The new location also will have more parking than the current site, the owners said.
Another 2,000-square-foot building on the site likely will be demolished, while a 7,500-square-foot structure could be converted for other uses. “It has tremendous character and potential,” Paxton said. “It could make an incredible events space.”
LaDiff’s owners said they paid $3.7 million for the site and plan to invest at least another $1.5 million on the renovations. The plans for possible residential or other commercial development at the site are still in the works.
LaDiff is working with Burt Pinnock, chairman and principal of the Richmond architectural firm Baskervill, and the contracting firm J.A. Heisler Contracting Co. Inc. on the project.
Plans for the current LaDiff building in Shockoe Bottom call for converting the building into some mixed-use development, but the owners of SNP Properties said in August that a final decision hadn’t been made yet.