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    Homebuilder goes modern in North Highland Park

    North Highland Park is moving in a Modern direction!

    A pair of modern-design homes recently built in North Highland Park is introducing a housing product – and price point – not typically seen in the neighborhood in Richmond’s Northside.

    The rectangular-shaped, contemporary-style homes along Carolina Avenue east of Meadowbridge Road stand in stark contrast to the American Foursquares and other 1920s-era houses that line the neighborhood.

    One of the new homes – 3501 Carolina Ave., the first of the two to be put on the market – is under contract to be purchased, with an asking price of just under $400,000.

    The 2,200-square-foot home, with three bedrooms and 2½ bathrooms, originally was listed in February at $450,000 and reduced May 15 to $399,900. Within a week of the price change, the house was put under contract, said Bernice Sim of Re/Max Commonwealth, who listed the home with fellow Re/Max agents Wally Hughes and Steve Kirby.

    Should the sale close as scheduled later this month, it will be significantly higher than the neighborhood’s median sale price of $150,000, according to real estate company Redfin. The national brokerage’s website puts the median list price for North Highland Park at $205,000.

    The homes were built by DynQuest Properties, made up of local homebuilder Stephen Harrell and business partner Henry Mere. The Fairfax-based company, started in 2016, builds and remodels homes in Virginia and Maryland.

    Harrell said the Carolina Avenue homes are the company’s first new construction in Richmond, where they have previously worked on projects in collaboration with the Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority, according to DynQuest’s website.

    The company previously rehabbed a home on Northside Avenue in Highland Terrace, and Harrell said it soon will start construction on two modern-design, 3,500-square-foot homes on Lakeview Avenue in Byrd Park.

    Harrell, who resides in western Henrico County, said he and Mere initially were looking for construction opportunities downtown when his sights turned to Highland Park.

    “We wanted to bring something different to the area,” he said. “I felt that this house would stick out more (in Highland Park), versus if we built it in the Fan or Carytown, where you see a similar house to that.

    “I like to go into urban areas where they’re kind of depressed and bring some hope to the area,” Harrell said. “I wanted to have the kids in that area be able to look at something and go, ‘Wow, we have a new home in our neighborhood, and it’s different.’”

    The subdivided parcel that the homes are built on was purchased in February for $20,000, according to city property records. Harrell said a single-family house previously on the lot was condemned by the city and razed prior to the purchase.

    He would not say how much the homes cost to build, describing them only as “expensive.” They were designed by Steven Biegel, an Austin, Texas-based architect, and Harrell said the construction came in under budget, allowing for the reduction in price.

    Construction on the second house, 3503 Carolina Ave., is expected to finish in the next couple months. The Re/Max team said they plan to list it this summer.

    The side-by-side homes feature mirrored floorplans and facades, with Hardiplank siding and cypress-and-stucco front exteriors. The homes were built with materials with conventional cuts and measurements, said Biegel, who also is designing DynQuest’s Byrd Park homes.

    “We tried to minimize waste and use materials that are sustainable and will last with minimal maintenance,” he said, noting the tight-grained cypress is readily available in this area and the Hardiplank siding is designed to be maintenance-free.

    The construction approach also meant only the exterior walls are load-bearing, allowing the interior to be open with no need for specific wall placements. The ground floor of the first house includes floor-to-ceiling windows with remote-controlled blinds, a living space with gas fireplace and kitchen with quartz countertops, and a metal staircase leading to bedrooms on the second floor.

    Each house also includes a two-car garage with breezeway, gated entrance and landscaping with lighting.

    The house’s buyers are a couple who are downsizing from the Atlee area, where they have lived 16 years after previously living abroad. The wife and husband – a retired educator and a semi-retired budget analyst, respectively – did not want to be named because they haven’t told neighbors they plan to move.

    The couple said they were drawn to the house for its design, open floor plan and environmental considerations. They also said they liked the idea of investing in and contributing to the neighborhood. They were represented in the transaction by Tammy Gomer of Shaheen, Ruth, Martin & Fonville Real Estate.

    Harrell said his goal is to build more similar homes in Highland Park and surrounding neighborhoods. He said the houses, which are funded through DynQuest, would have a positive effect on property values and the community.

    “From a property-value standpoint, it’s definitely going to increase,” he said, adding that longtime and older residents in the area should take advantage of the city’s real estate tax exemptions to offset any changes to their tax valuations.

    “Our goal is to do many more of these homes in the same area,” he said. “Our goal is to put the best quality that you possibly can into a house. I think that makes a huge difference.”


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