Local home flipping trio take the leap into commercial real estate


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From left to right, Phillip Thai, Robert Lee and Victor Thai outside their latest acquisition. (Courtesy of Phillip Thai)

After knocking down a number of residential properties, three new local developers have struck their first business deal at Shockoe Slip.

Brothers Phillip and Victor Thai along with their business partner Robert Lee purchased the Golden Convenience Center building at 1217 E. Main St. last month for $ 900,000.

The one-story property is partially occupied by a convenience store and also once housed the Good Taste II restaurant.

The deal, which closed on Oct. 8, is the group’s first foray into commercial real estate after flipping homes in recent years.

“Right now we’re making about 12 repairable and reversible single-family homes, and we still have 12 to 13 in the works,” Phillip said. “The initial goal was to switch to commercial real estate to develop and grow the business. “

Victor continues to work full time in technology sales, while Lee and Phillip recently left careers in nonprofit management and software engineering, respectively, to devote full time to real estate.

City records show that the Golden Convenience building was recently valued at $ 686,000 and that the vendor was an entity related to the Kim family. The Thais and Lee bought the approximately 9,400 square foot building through their River City Capital Fund, a fund they set up to solicit investors. Lee has so far said that they have only collected money from friends and family.

Thai said the convenience store that occupies part of the building has just over a year on its lease and will remain so for that period. About half of the building’s square footage is a basement that the new property group aims to renovate and rent out.

“We hope to bring in a local or national tenant. We are already reviewing and receiving applicants. We also want to find the right tenant to energize this area, ”said Thai. “We always play with what would be the best combination. “

In the long term, the Thais and Lee could look to add residential density to the site of around 0.1 acre.

“We’ve spoken to previous owners who have said it could be used to add an existing multi-family project on top of it,” Thai said. “We are actively receiving offers from contractors on potential constructions to see how this might play out. We’re allowed, depending on what the vendors have provided, up to five more stories. “

The trio plan to continue researching commercial and residential deals in the Richmond area and beyond.

“We’re optimistic in Richmond in general, anything within 30 minutes,” Lee said. “We are studying Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point (North Carolina) and we are also doing deals on Hampton Roads. “

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