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By Carol Hazard

More than 670 apartments are coming to the Shockoe Bottom area, with about 480 scheduled to open within the next year.

The area has become a mecca for young urban professionals and students from the Virginia Commonwealth University academic and medical campuses wanting to live in apartments, developers say.

“Shockoe Bottom has a reputation as a cool place to live,” said Tara Carter, director of operations for Plus Management, a management company for 10 properties.

Developer Phil Roper said he and his business partner conduct in-depth market studies before they embark on a project, including one under way in the area.

“We are surely not going to build in an area that is oversaturated,” Roper said.

Rents and occupancy levels are higher in Shockoe Bottom than other areas in Richmond, said Brian White, co-manager of Historic Properties, a developer in the area. “By that measure I don’t think it’s overbuilt.”

Yet rents aren’t as high as developers had expected because of the economy, and are likely to become more competitive with the influx of new apartments.

Major projects under way include:

•Cedar Broad Apartments, a 204-unit complex that will wrap in an L-shape around the McDonald’s on East Broad Street at North 18th Street near Shockoe Bottom; •Shockoe Valley Heights, a 244-unit apartment complex with 8,500 square feet of retail between East Main and Franklin streets and 20th and 21st streets; and •The Atrium Lofts at Cold Storage north of East Broad Street, a five-building warehouse complex that eventually will have about 310 apartments. The second building, with 76 apartments, is being renovated on East Marshall and 18th streets.