After eight months of delays, City Council appeared finally set to decide the future of the Intermediate Terminal building at its meeting this week.
But a last-minute request by Stone Brewing Co. has thrown yet another wrench in the process.
On Friday, Stone sent a letter requesting City Council to delay voting on changing the agreement between the brewery and the Richmond Economic Development Authority that would allow for the demolition of the building at 3101 E. Main St. to make way for Stone-branded restaurant and beer garden.
In the letter, addressed to Jane Ferrara, COO of the EDA, Stone chief operation officer Sean Monahan writes that the brewery has “concluded that we require additional time to further consider the current proposal and other options for bringing a Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens experience to Richmond.”
The 30,000-square-foot Intermediate Terminal building was originally slated to be converted into the bistro concept, until the city and the brewery said it was deemed structurally insufficient for redevelopment in an “economically feasible manner,” as was explained in Stone’s letter.
The parties opted to seek to demolish the building and construct a 12,000-square-foot from-scratch bistro in its place. Doing so requires an amendment of the language of the agreement between Stone and the EDA, a process that requires council approval. The council has since delayed voting on the matter 10 times since March.
This latest hold-up was the first time that Stone itself requested the vote to be delayed.
Stone says in its letter that it has invested over $750,000 into design and engineering due diligence studies for the development of the terminal and adjoining space, and that it is asking for the delay so it can have “more time to jointly address the deficiencies in the existing agreement.”
It is unclear what “other options” Stone is considering for the property and what exactly the deficiencies are in the agreement.
The agreement stems from the 2015 deal that brought Stone’s East Coast headquarters and brewery to Richmond. The first leg of that included $23 million in bonds the city provided to build Stone’s nearby production facility in Fulton, which opened in 2016. That side of the deal also involved a 25-year lease to Stone, with the brewer paying rent, real estate taxes, maintenance costs and insurance.
For the bistro side of the deal, the city offered $8 million in bonds to fund the redevelopment of the terminal site, in exchange for Stone leasing the site for 25 years. The city has repeatedly said it will not be providing any further funds to Stone.
Over the summer, the century-old building was deemed ineligible for historic preservation by the state’s Department of Historic Resources, and Stone, in its letter, stated that the property’s “significant structural challenges” have been independently verified.
In a statement to BizSense over the weekend, Stone spokeswoman Lizzie Younkin said Stone has invested $76.2 million into its Richmond production facility and that the company’s sales in the eastern U.S. are up 21 percent.
But both the letter and the statement don’t make clear how the process will move forward.
“We remain fully committed. We will invest in our world-class production facility, the local beer scene, and the community at large while we determine next steps for the possibility of a bistro experience in Richmond,” the company said.