The Virginia Lottery is trying to get lucky in the real estate world.
As major renovations to the State Capitol complex draw near, the Virginia Lottery is on the hunt for up to 80,000 square feet of office space to settle into by July of next year.
The independent government agency is being pushed out of its current 60,000 square feet in the state-owned Pocahontas Building at 900 E. Main St., which it has occupied for 21 years. It is being replaced in the building by the General Assembly and staff. Renovations of the entire complex, which include the assembly’s current building, are due to start next year.
“We’re now looking for private space, because there is not enough state-owned space available,” Virginia Lottery spokeswoman Jill Vaughan said.
The organization has enlisted JLL to help it search for between 60,000 and 80,000 square feet of office space in the area, Vaughan said. It has expanded its search to include the city, as well as Henrico and Chesterfield counties.
“Once we get a new location, we’ll work with the attorney general’s office to finalize a lease,” Vaughan said. “We’re seeking comparable space, but in our current building we’re on many different floors, so we’re hoping to consolidate and be more efficient, as well.”
The lottery’s 200 employees currently work on nine different levels of the downtown building. The agency pays $860,000 in rent a year to the state, and Vaughan said it is “working hard to be fiscally responsible,” in choosing a new location.
The lottery will have to cover the cost of the entire move, as it does not operate like a traditional state agency. It does not take any taxpayer money, instead operating solely on the funds it brings in from the sale of lottery tickets. Of the $1.8 billion it brings in every year, about 5 percent goes to its own annual operating budget, which will include the cost of moving.
It won’t be a simple move, Vaughan said.
All of the lottery’s operations are headquartered in the Pocahontas Building, including its IT, finance, marketing and sales departments. Vital equipment will have to be moved, as well, such as machines that test lottery games and rooftop satellite dishes that connect the headquarters to the 5,300 ticket retailers across the state.
“Every time we launch a new game, we run these tests on this equipment in our building, so our test lab will need to be moved to the new place, and it’s quite a robust computer data center,” Vaughan said. “People don’t realize what goes on behind the scenes of selling lottery tickets.”
The move, though prompted by the General Assembly’s need for more space, may be a welcome change for some lottery winners. Any individual who wins more than $600 currently has to go downtown to the headquarters in person with proper identification.
“It’s a challenge in this building, since we’re right across the street from the capitol, for our winners to park,” Vaughan said, adding that several winners drop by the headquarters every day.
Vaughan declined to say if any particular office parks or buildings in the Richmond area have caught the lottery’s eye, but she did say parking is especially important for the new location, as is easy access to the interstate.
The Virginia Lottery has been in existence since 1988. A substantial portion of the money it generates each year goes toward education. In 2014, the agency gave over $539 million to Virginia’s K-12 schools.