Remediation to begin on Fulton Gas Works site as city looks for ‘highest and best use’

The Fulton Gas Works site along Williamsburg Avenue. (Jonathan Spiers)

While development interest picks up steam around it, a city-owned site between Rocketts Landing and Shockoe Bottom is progressing toward eventual reuse, with options including potentially selling the land for private-sector redevelopment.

The City of Richmond is moving forward with one of two remediation efforts involving land that makes up the former Fulton Gas Works site between Williamsburg Avenue and East Main Street.

The city’s public utilities department issued notice earlier this year of its intent to proceed with a voluntary remediation of three of four parcels that make up the site: 3100, 3110 and 3200 E. Main St. The three wooded lots are across the railroad tracks that bisect the site from the fourth and largest parcel: the 7.9-acre tract at 3301 Williamsburg Ave. that houses the remnants of the former natural gas facility.

A map of the four parcels that make up the Fulton site. (Courtesy City of Richmond)

The department has eyed the site for years for a possible central office for its natural gas division, Richmond Gas Works, as well as for potential economic development opportunities. The remediation effort is required due to identified soil and groundwater contamination, and was included in the city’s capital improvement plan through 2020. A project summary on the city’s website said completion was initially anticipated by the end of last year.

The city is working with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, which reviewed and deemed its remediation plan – called a Remedial Action Plan – complete. The notice said public comments about the plan and requests for more information would be accepted through this Saturday, June 15.

The remediation for the Main Street parcels is expected to be complete by year-end, said Rhonda Johnson, a spokeswoman for the public utilities department. A second, separate remediation project for the Williamsburg Avenue parcel is estimated for completion by the end of 2021.

Johnson said both efforts are being paid for through Richmond Gas Works’ enterprise fund and are projected to cost $4.36 million combined. Locally based Timmons Group is providing engineering services.

Once the projects are complete and DEQ determines potential environmental risks have been addressed, the city’s planning and economic development departments would develop an area plan to determine the properties’ highest and best use. Uses could include construction of city facilities or private redevelopment through a property sale.

The wooded parcels along East Main Street are just beyond the traffic circle leading to Rocketts Landing. (Jonathan Spiers)

The three parcels along Main Street, just east of the Dock Street roundabout, total about 2.4 acres and are valued collectively at $811,000, according to the latest city assessment. The 7.9-acre property along Williamsburg Avenue most recently was assessed at $1.71 million.

The properties are just west of the Stone Brewing facility along Williamsburg Avenue and, along Main Street, the city-owned Intermediate Terminal building, which has been planned for redevelopment as a Stone-branded restaurant and beer garden. It remains unclear what will come of the terminal building as votes surrounding the project have been delayed for months.

Farther south, just beyond the bustling Rocketts Landing, North Carolina-based Zimmer Development Co. this week unveiled plans for Fulton Yard, a mixed-use development of 535 apartments and 106,000 square feet of retail and office space on 20 acres at the Richmond-Henrico line.

And across Williamsburg Avenue from the Fulton site, the 150,000-square-foot Armitage Building at 3200 Williamsburg Ave. is in line for eventual redevelopment, following The Wilton Cos.’ purchase of that property and others around it in 2016.

Comments and info requests on the Fulton remediation plan can be sent to Richmond Gas Works engineering manager Daniel Rifenburgh at [email protected] or 646-8537.

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David Conmy
David Conmy

Notwithstanding any potential contamination within them, I hope they find a way to save some of the original structures, especially the one directly adjacent to Williamsburg Ave. The circular steel structure in the middle of the site has a bit of an iconic landmark-style feel to it and could be made into a very unique public art/monument structure.

Susan Mossem
Susan Mossem

I agree with you, David. The brick building with the large windows should be incorporated into whatever building is planned for that site. The circular metal framed structure is a gasometer, which should also be incorporated into the future development plans. You can search the website for an article in the archives, 12/05/16, about the function of the gasometer. I take frequent walks around this site, let’s hope it doesn’t become another high rise apartment complex. We need a bit of design/structure variation along the riverfront incorporating some green space, not just walls of buildings on either side of… Read more »

Michael Dodson
Michael Dodson

City went down this road in 2004, 2006 and I think again 2008. Remediation and RFP for surplus sale in 2004 and 2006 with the 2008 being considered for a baseball stadium under Mayor Wilder. City put out request each time for firms to clean the site thinking it had the funding……well it never went anywhere. I hope this time around something really happens but this administration’s track record on projects, big and small, is of mostly failure.