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Dominion to build 20-story tower downtown

Michael Schwartz May 13, 2016 4

In this view from Kanawha Plaza, the confirmed new tower sits to the left. The other potential new building is to the right where One James River Plaza currently sits.

In this view from Kanawha Plaza, the confirmed new tower sits to the left. Another potential new building is to the right where One James River Plaza currently sits.

Dominion Resources has shed some more light on its plans to change the downtown skyline.

The Richmond-based utility giant announced Thursday it will build a 20-story, 908,000-square-foot office tower at 111 S. Sixth St.

The high-rise will replace the existing six-story, 269,000-square-foot Richmond Plaza building, which sits across the street from Dominion’s One James River Plaza headquarters and has been largely unused since the company bought it from Washington, D.C.-based real estate firm Douglas Development in 2011.

The company said it is also considering building a separate, neighboring tower on the site of its current headquarters, which sits at 701 E. Cary St. It would span 850,000 square feet on 16 floors. The company released a rendering showing the dual towers, though company spokesman Ryan Frazier said it is still considering its plans for the One James River Plaza property. Its options include either gutting the existing 21-story, 667,000-square-foot building for a full renovation or demolishing it in favor of a new tower.

The Richmond Plaza building has mostly been used for its parking since Dominion bought it years ago.

The Richmond Plaza building has mostly been used for its parking since Dominion bought it years ago.

For the Richmond Plaza site, Dominion’s 20-story building will include 17 floors of office space, two floors of above-ground parking and four floors of underground parking. Ground floor retail space is also planned for the building’s northeast side on Seventh Street and Cary.

Demolition on the Richmond Plaza, which encompasses the entire city block between Sixth and Seventh streets between Cary and Canal, is expected to begin at the end of June and should take about four months to complete. Construction on the new building would begin thereafter, with a planned completion date of early 2019.

Dominion would then move 1,300 employees in a few months later.

“Dominion believes that the proposed development will not only add to Richmond’s already-impressive skyline but also retain thousands of employees downtown,” CEO Tom Farrell said in a prepared statement. “It will also promote productivity and enhance efficiencies that will redound to the benefit of our employees and customers alike.”

Dominion previously confirmed it hired Richmond-based Hourigan Construction as general contractor. Houston-based architecture firm Kendall/Heaton Associates is the architect of record, with architecture firm Pickard Chilton of New Haven, Connecticut, also on the project. Locally based Timmons Group is the civil engineer. PDR Corp. out of Houston is the interior designer.

Clayco, the Chicago-based developer known locally for building the new Gateway Plaza tower downtown, is a minority partner on the development with Hourigan.

Thursday’s announcement comes almost exactly a year after Dominion unveiled preliminary plans to eventually demolish the Richmond Plaza building. Thursday’s announcement was the first time the company released any specs for the site.

Dominion paid $5.5 million for the property and purchased it mainly to deal with parking needs it had at the time. The building has an attached parking garage that is used by downtown commuters.

Frazier said the company considered various options, including renovations of other buildings it owns and looking at other properties on the market. He said it ultimately concluded that building from scratch on the Richmond Plaza site was the most cost-effective plan for its future real estate needs.

The company said it is keeping the costs of the planned development confidential for now, as it is still in the midst of engineering and construction plans.

Dominion's current headquarters at One James River Plaza.

Dominion’s current headquarters at One James River Plaza.

Dominion’s other downtown properties consist of a 20-story tower at 705 E. Main St., three buildings at 120 Tredegar St. and two buildings on Grayland Avenue. It has about 2,500 employees downtown. Frazier said future plans currently call for Dominion staying at its Tredegar buildings and its large facility in Innsbrook. It has not decided what do with the Main Street and Grayland Avenue properties going forward.

He said decisions on those will be made likely in 2019 once the new tower nears completion.

Frazier said a decision about what it will do with the One James Center Plaza building will be made by 2019, as the company needs the new building to be ready in order to get started on the other site.

The renderings also show an auditorium that may be built between the two buildings and an elevated walkway over Seventh Street to connect the two buildings. Frazier said those two features are still on the drawing the board.

The company said it filed plans for the new tower with the city on Thursday afternoon. The site is already zoned for office, but the plans may require the city to approve a height variance.

Dominion’s plan will likely spark some debate about where exactly this new tower will rank among Richmond’s tallest buildings.

From street level to the building’s zenith, the company said it will rise 413 feet, second only to the 29-story James Monroe Building, which stands at 449 feet at 101 N. 14th St.

Dominion emphasized that its peak will sit 506 feet above sea level, based on where it sits on the hill going up Cary and Canal. Elevation-wise, the company said, the new building would be the tallest in Richmond, overtaking the James Monroe Building and the Federal Reserve building.

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4 Comments »

  1. Jim Washok May 13, 2016 at 7:19 am - Reply

    Why another 20 story building? Looks nice and I like the possibility of a twin structure, but Dominion is capable of reaching new heights. Power, innovation, tech and the future should be represented with structures much taller than what exists. It’s time for Richmond to have a new skyline. This should be a 30-35 story building!

  2. Bruce Milam May 13, 2016 at 7:31 am - Reply

    We need more height downtown and these 2-3 new skyscrapers will be just what the doctor ordered for the City. There’s real excitement in the air ( pun intended)!

    Let’s bring more height to Scotts Addition and Manchester too.

  3. Steven Carter-Lovejoy May 13, 2016 at 11:22 am - Reply

    While I appreciate improvements to Richmond’s skyline, the priority infrastructure for Dominion’s future should be sustainable, non-fossil-fuel energy production facilities using solar and wind power. For too long Dominion has had its head in the sand about what our future will require. Wouldn’t it be nice if Dominion made a corporate commitment to a sustainable future, and signaled this change with a highly energy-efficient, fully solar-powered showcase?

  4. Bill Clay May 18, 2016 at 7:40 am - Reply

    Hopefully this building grows a few more stories. To make a real impact on the skyline, this building needs more height.

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