About 7 acres of prime Fan area real estate is being put into play for the first time since the days of the electric trolley car.
The Greater Richmond Transit Co. last week issued a request for proposals for the sale of its bus depot property at 101 S. Davis Ave., just south of the Fan District and east of Carytown.
A sale would open up potential development on the 112-year-old property and its nine buildings that total 112,000 square feet. The site is bounded by Cary Street, Grayland Avenue, Stafford Avenue and Robinson Street.
Spokeswoman Carrie Rose Pace said GRTC plans to sell the property in “a way that provides the most value to the company.”
“We know there’s been a lot of interest from various development groups,” Pace said. “We certainly hope and anticipate that something will come through with great value to create a project that will transform the site.”
Proposals for the property will be accepted until July 8, and the winning bid is scheduled to be chosen in September. A pre-proposal conference and property walkthrough is scheduled for June 10.
GRTC, a nonprofit owned by the city of Richmond and Chesterfield County, has owned the property since 1973 and used it until 2010, when bus maintenance and operations were moved to the Southside. The site had been in use for public transit since 1903.
In 2012, an intensive clean-up began to remove bus-related chemicals from the grounds. That process is expected to be completed in November.
As it sat idle during the cleaning process, the property got a makeover in 2013 when muralists were invited to splash some paint on the grounds as part of that year’s RVA Street Art Festival.
The site was most recently assessed by the city at $1.38 million, according to city records.
It’s zoned for mixed use, and the RFP explains that “Proposers must articulate an offer that presents the highest return to GRTC.”
Residents and business owners in and around the Fan have already begun considering what that highest return might look like.
Sticky ToGoGo owner Kevin Wilson, speaking as president for both the Uptown Association and Fan Area Business Alliance, said he hopes the future of the property will be guided, at least in part, by local residents and businesses. He suggested some sort of mixed-use development that doesn’t include a big-box retailer.
“Both organizations have an interest in seeing the interest of the community represented in what gets developed there,” Wilson said. “Parking is always going to come up. A designation that offers some amount of off-street protected parking would be very nice to see.”
Local developer Tom Papa said he didn’t have plans to submit a proposal, but said the property is ripe for a historic tax credit project. It is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
Papa said he thought putting in shops could function as an eastern extension of Carytown.
“I think that Carytown would expand and infill if (the bus depot) were to become a mall,” Papa said. “When (the city) pays for parking, magical, wonderful things tend to happen.”
The property sits in District 5 of the city, which is represented by Councilman Parker Agelasto. He could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. The mayor’s office did not have a comment.
Pace, from GRTC, said “neighbors of the Davis Avenue site and the general public will have ample opportunity to weigh in on any proposal for re-development.” She added that public feedback will be directed to the new owner after the proposal process.
Pace said a GRTC review committee will help make the final decision as to who the buyer will be.
Pace said the GRTC chose to request proposals, as opposed to hiring a broker, because the Federal Transit Administration requires that federally funded sites like the bus depot be sold in a way that allows for competition among potential buyers.