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BY CAROL HAZARD
RICHMOND--Candace Brooks wanted to live in a new apartment--and chose one of the oldest buildings in downtown Richmond.
She moved in December into the newly converted First National Bank building, now the First National Apartments, at 823 E. Main St.
"I absolutely love it," said Brooks, 30, a systems analyst for the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission and one of the building's first residents.
"I wanted to stay downtown and have the high-rise experience," she said, adding that she was living in an older apartment downtown.
The $30 million renovation is nearing completion, as workers put the final touches on the 19-story centennial building.
Open less than two months, 53 of the 154 apartments are leased and 40 are occupied.
The one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments range from 562 square feet to 2,235 square feet. Rents are from about $700 to about $2,900.
"With an adaptive re-use project, you don't have a cookie-cutter layout," said Peter Lowe, property manager with Drucker & Falk, a Newport News-based real estate management company.
"This is not a case where all the one bedrooms or two bedrooms look the same," he said. "They have nuances that make them unique."
The penthouse units on the top floor are two stories with panoramic views of the city. None of these eight units are rented yet.
Residents to date are mostly young professionals and students, Lowe said.
Cliff Lucas and Sara Mellon, both in their mid-20s from the Northern Neck, moved into an apartment in early December. He has a job with Dominion Resources.
"It's a comfortable place," Lucas said, adding that a strong sense of community is developing because everyone is moving into the building at about the same time.
"It's real open and feels like it's a safe place with a key fob entry and gated parking connected to the building," he said.
Parking is available in an adjacent secured-access garage for an extra $125 a month.
The building features a resident social lounge with a pool table and a fitness center.
All the units are on separate meters and residents are responsible for electricity, water, cable and Internet services.
The property is one of the most recent adaptive re-use apartment projects to open in downtown Richmond.