On the site of the former American Cigar Company, the property will feature architectural design elements that resemble the historic cigar factory. (S.L. Nusbaum Realty Co rendering)

Construction has begun on a new $20 million apartment complex at the site of the former American Cigar Co. in Norfolk, Va., according to S.L. Nusbaum Realty Co.

The 118-unit Ashton Apartment Homes complex will be located at 1140 and 1148 E. Princess Anne Road in Norfolk’s Bruce’s Park neighborhood. The Ashton Apartment Homes name is derived from a cigar brand once manufactured there.

“Our neighborhood has always been concerned with the future of this historical site of the Old Tobacco Factory built in 1903,” said Bruce’s Park Civic League President Barbara Dolgia in a statement.

“Many of us have family connections with the African-American women who worked in the factory in a role known as ‘stemmers’ — those that removed the stem from the tobacco leaves in order to manufacture cigars. We are so pleased that we were able to work with the developers to build new quality housing that would be constructed in a way to honor this special history.”

The complex was designed by a team of professionals, including Richmond-based Timmons Group, Details Interior Design, TS3 Architects PC, and Speight, Marshall, Francis – all from Virginia Beach; and Siska Aurand Landscape Architects Inc. in Norfolk.

Morgan Keller Construction in Frederick, Md., is the project’s general contractor.

“The need for additional quality housing in this market continues to be in high demand, and we are pleased to be part of the solution here,” Aaron Wyatt, S.L. Nusbaum senior vice president and co-director of multifamily housing, said in a statement.

“We take pride in being able to maintain the historical integrity of this land with a new community that our future residents will be proud to call their home.”

Leasing is set to begin in late summer 2021 and construction is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of next year. S.L. Nusbaum worked with TowneBank and the Virginia Housing Development Authority to secure financing for the development.