A state agency with a significant footprint near The Diamond is on the hunt for a half million square feet of real estate, potentially putting its current home in play as a site for a new baseball stadium.
A request for proposals went out Friday for the state Department of General Services, on behalf of the Virginia ABC, to secure larger office and warehouse space for the booze purveyor in the greater Richmond area.
According to the RFP documents, ABC is seeking 375,000 square feet of distribution space and 80,000 to 95,000 square feet of office space.
The new facilities could replace ABC’s existing nerve center, which encompasses 292,000 square feet of office and warehouse space at 2901 Hermitage Road across from The Diamond. That 20-acre property was reported to be a likely site to house a new stadium for the Richmond Flying Squirrels.
“We’re at maximum capacity,” ABC spokeswoman Carol Mawyer said of the Hermitage complex. “We are using every inch of the space that we currently have.”
The state has tapped Divaris Real Estate’s Richmond division to field the proposals, which must be submitted by Aug. 11.
The RFP states that preferred sites would be in City of Richmond or Chesterfield, Henrico, Hanover, Powhatan, Goochland or New Kent counties.
Once all the proposals have been received, Mawyer said the agency and the Department of General Services will submit the best proposal to the General Assembly on Nov. 1 for possible funding by state legislators.
Dena Potter, spokeswoman for DGS, which among other tasks handles the state’s real estate needs, said prospective proposal applicants can tour ABC’s Hermitage facility June 20.
State leaders set aside $500,000 in the 2017 budget to start the initial leg of research to either expand the ABC existing facility, relocate its office and distribution operations to existing buildings, or construct a new facility either onsite or elsewhere.
The state-owned Hermitage Road complex includes 60,000 square feet of offices, with the balance dedicated to warehouse and distribution operations, according to city records.
ABC is looking for a “turn-key” option, which would allow for the agency to move its people, products and equipment into the new space quickly, Potter said. She added the option to renovate and expand ABC’s Hermitage Road operation is on the table, but would have to work around its employees and not impair day-to-day operations.
“We cannot cease operations because of the renovation, if that is the option selected,” Potter said.
She said the office and distribution operations do not have to be in conjoined buildings, like its current location, and that ABC’s distribution operation and offices can be located in separate areas.
“It’s all about finding the right proposal that’s going to help keep ABC efficient and operational,” Potter said.
As for potential sites that could accommodate such a project, John Jay Schwartz of Richmond-based brokerage Have Site Will Travel, which handles large industrial deals, said there are several options across the region conducive to the state’s request.
He cites spots off the Interstate 95 corridor near Ashland and in south Chesterfield County, Goochland County’s West Creek development, and the White Oak Business Park in eastern Henrico County near Richmond International Airport.
“The best thing is for the operation to be a consolidated location where the office is with the warehouse,” Schwartz said. “I think that’s what you’ll see happen.”
Given that ABC outgrew the Hermitage facility, Schwartz suggested moving the agency off the site to open it for another use.
“That site lends itself to something better … there are a number of more efficient uses for that space,” he said.
Schwartz isn’t alone in making such an assertion.
Local news outlets reported last year that the ABC’s 20-acre Hermitage property was a potential site for a long-awaited replacement for The Diamond.
That was followed by the announcement of a joint agreement between the Richmond Flying Squirrels, VCU and former mayor Dwight Jones’ office to “guide the final stages of planning for a new ballpark in Richmond to be used by VCU and the Flying Squirrels.”
Mayor Levar Stoney, prior to being elected, reportedly participated in the negotiations for that agreement, which stated the group was eyeing a $60 million stadium project at an unspecified site near The Diamond. Stoney has said he would support the project only if surrounding counties ponied up their fair share.
Emails to the mayor’s office about the status of any stadium plan were not returned by press time.
A new stadium on the ABC site would free up The Diamond’s to join surrounding parcels for a total of 60 city-owned acres bounded by North Boulevard and Hermitage Road. The city already has teased developers with what it would like to see on the site.
If ABC decides to leave Hermitage Road and a new stadium doesn’t materialize on the site, Schwartz said, the property could lend itself to mixed-use developments, large office space or residential development.
“There is lot of great potential for growth on that property,” he said. “At this point it really is up to the legislature and the city.”
Clarification: A previous version of this report stated that any proposed sites must fall within the City of Richmond or Chesterfield, Henrico, Hanover, Powhatan, Goochland or New Kent counties. Those are the preferred localities, but not required.