State agency weighing options for HQ move

The Department of Environmental Quality currently operates out of 125,000 square feet at Main St. Photos by Katie Demeria.

The Department of Environmental Quality currently operates out square feet at Main St. Photos by Katie Demeria.

As it approaches the end of its lease, a state agency is testing the local real estate waters and considering leaving its longtime home.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is seeking at least 65,000 square feet of office space in downtown Richmond as it ponders relocating from its headquarters at 629 E. Main St., where it has resided since it was founded in 1993.

The state’s Department of General Services, which handles all real estate services for state agencies, is conducting the search for DEQ and put out a request for proposals to the Richmond real estate community in September. Divaris Real Estate was contracted to find the space, and responses were due at the end of October.

The search was spurred by the impending end of DEQ’s current lease in 2017. It is currently the only tenant in the 125,000-square-foot, 12-story building, which is owned by Washington, D.C.-based Douglas Development.

A representative with Douglas Development did not return requests for comment, and it is unclear if the company has submitted its own response to the RFP in order to keep the DEQ in its building.

DGS spokeswoman Dena Potter said the aim is to evaluate the real estate market and determine the most efficient move for the DEQ.

“So if it’s a few years before their lease comes up, they ask, ‘Should we stay where we are, should we go somewhere else?’ And we can tell them, ‘Here’s what you’re paying for square footage now, here’s what we could get you if you moved somewhere else, or we could try to renegotiate better terms for your lease,’” she said.

Potter said DGS always tries to put agencies in state-owned space first to save costs.

“But in this case, we don’t have enough contiguous space, and we don’t want to split them up on several floors,” she said. “We want to do what’s best for the agency to meet their operational needs.”

Potter did not say how much the DEQ spends annually on rent, nor how many responses the department has received to its RFP.

DEQ gets its funding from a mix of federal and state sources, as well as through permitting fees.
Bill Hayden, spokesperson for the DEQ, said the department has around 250 employees.

“We run a wide variety of environmental programs that cover the entire state,” Hayden said. “We have air quality programs, water quality, land protection, coastal protection, pollution prevention – there are a lot.”

He said the agency frequently has visitors entering the building, and it works closely with other state agencies, so remaining downtown is the ideal option.

If the DEQ does land a new home, it won’t be the only state agency packing up its offices. The Virginia Lottery is also planning a move into the state-owned Main Street Centre.

The Department of Environmental Quality currently operates out of 125,000 square feet at Main St. Photos by Katie Demeria.

The Department of Environmental Quality currently operates out square feet at Main St. Photos by Katie Demeria.

As it approaches the end of its lease, a state agency is testing the local real estate waters and considering leaving its longtime home.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is seeking at least 65,000 square feet of office space in downtown Richmond as it ponders relocating from its headquarters at 629 E. Main St., where it has resided since it was founded in 1993.

The state’s Department of General Services, which handles all real estate services for state agencies, is conducting the search for DEQ and put out a request for proposals to the Richmond real estate community in September. Divaris Real Estate was contracted to find the space, and responses were due at the end of October.

The search was spurred by the impending end of DEQ’s current lease in 2017. It is currently the only tenant in the 125,000-square-foot, 12-story building, which is owned by Washington, D.C.-based Douglas Development.

A representative with Douglas Development did not return requests for comment, and it is unclear if the company has submitted its own response to the RFP in order to keep the DEQ in its building.

DGS spokeswoman Dena Potter said the aim is to evaluate the real estate market and determine the most efficient move for the DEQ.

“So if it’s a few years before their lease comes up, they ask, ‘Should we stay where we are, should we go somewhere else?’ And we can tell them, ‘Here’s what you’re paying for square footage now, here’s what we could get you if you moved somewhere else, or we could try to renegotiate better terms for your lease,’” she said.

Potter said DGS always tries to put agencies in state-owned space first to save costs.

“But in this case, we don’t have enough contiguous space, and we don’t want to split them up on several floors,” she said. “We want to do what’s best for the agency to meet their operational needs.”

Potter did not say how much the DEQ spends annually on rent, nor how many responses the department has received to its RFP.

DEQ gets its funding from a mix of federal and state sources, as well as through permitting fees.
Bill Hayden, spokesperson for the DEQ, said the department has around 250 employees.

“We run a wide variety of environmental programs that cover the entire state,” Hayden said. “We have air quality programs, water quality, land protection, coastal protection, pollution prevention – there are a lot.”

He said the agency frequently has visitors entering the building, and it works closely with other state agencies, so remaining downtown is the ideal option.

If the DEQ does land a new home, it won’t be the only state agency packing up its offices. The Virginia Lottery is also planning a move into the state-owned Main Street Centre.

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