Ending a search that had it looking to the suburbs, the Virginia Lottery has scored new digs downtown.
The state agency announced this week that it will move its headquarters to the state-owned Main Street Centre at 600 E. Main St., only three blocks away from its current home in the Pocahontas Building.
The lottery was informed earlier this year that it would have to vacate its current 60,000 square feet at 900 E. Main St., where it has been for 21 years, to make room for the General Assembly as part of the Capitol Square renovation project.
Initially thinking there was not enough state-owned space downtown, the lottery enlisted brokerage JLL to help it search elsewhere in the city, as well as in Henrico and Chesterfield counties.
But thanks to a retooling effort led by Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office and the Department of General Services, the lottery has been promised between 60,000 and 80,000 square feet across five floors of Main Street Centre.
“The proximity to other state agencies is a positive,” Virginia Lottery spokeswoman Jill Vaughan said. “We work with many of them, including the Department of the Treasury, the APA (Auditor of Public Accounts) and the tax department, which are all down there, and of course it keeps us close to the governor’s office.”
The exact square footage the lottery will occupy in the building has not yet been decided, Vaughan said.
The move also allows the lottery the opportunity to work out parking issues. With so many lottery winners visiting the headquarters to claim prizes, parking has been a problem for the agency and was one of the reasons it was leaning toward leaving downtown.
“We are working with the Department of General Services to designate some specific, convenient parking spaces in the parking deck adjacent to Main Street Centre, so hopefully that will help us with that challenge,” Vaughan said.
Securing space in Main Street Centre means that the Virginia Lottery will now have to vacate the Pocahontas Building by the summer of 2017, rather than June of 2016, as was originally planned.
“It gives us more time, almost a year, and from my understanding, the Capitol Square renovation project will remain on schedule,” Vaughan said.
The agency not only has to move its 200 employees, but all the equipment that tests the agency’s games and rooftop satellite dishes that connect the 5,300 statewide ticket retailers to the headquarters.
The easier move should help keep costs down, Vaughan said. Unlike most state agencies, the lottery operates solely on the funds it brings in from selling tickets across the state and has to pay for the move itself. Lottery profits are sent to K-12 schools throughout the state. It gave $534 million to Virginia’s public schools in fiscal year 2015.
The cost of rent in its new home has not yet been set, but Vaughan said it is likely to be around the $15 per square foot that the agency currently pays, which translates to about $860,000 a year.
Remaining in state-owned space will save the agency money, too, as rent in private locations runs about $20 per square foot, Vaughan said.
The 23-story 600 E. Main St. building is home to both state and private tenants, including the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry.
One question that is not answered in this story: Why is so much space available in that building?
It would have been nice to know:
Who left? Of if the building been partially vacant for a long time?