ABC breaks ground on new Hanover HQ; city site on deck for new baseball stadium

Work on the $91 million future ABC headquarters is underway. Dignitaries turned the dirt on the project Tuesday. (Photos by Mike Platania)

Another domino has fallen on the path toward a potential new baseball stadium in the city.

The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority held a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday for its future headquarters at 7353 Pole Green Road in Hanover.

The site eventually will house a 315,000-square-foot warehouse and 100,000-square-foot office for ABC atop 40 acres that the state bought last summer from Bill Goodwin’s Riverstone Properties for $8 million.

The ABC, saying it’s outgrown its current home at 2901 Hermitage Road, began searching for a new headquarters in 2017, but CEO Travis Hill said Tuesday the wheels for the move began turning in 2012 when then-Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed privatizing the ABC.

“When that proposal was made and rejected, Virginia made the common-sense and prudent choice to reinvest in (the ABC),” Hill said. “And so they did so by creating an authority model for Virginia ABC, making it more flexible to run our operations.”

The ABC’s new headquarters is scheduled to be completed in 2021.

The new headquarters is expected to be completed sometime next year, with a goal of avoiding any dual operations in Hanover and on Hermitage.

The Hermitage site is on 20 acres of state-owned land just north of The Diamond, which anchors 60 city-owned acres long coveted by developers, VCU and the Richmond Flying Squirrels.

Developers are hoping the city will issue a request for proposals on the 60 acres, while VCU’s been given the first right of refusal by Gov. Ralph Northam to acquire the ABC site, where the university has hinted at building an athletic village and stadium it would share with the Flying Squirrels.

Gov. Ralph Northam and ABC CEO Travis Hill

At Tuesday’s groundbreaking, Northam reiterated that VCU and the Squirrels are still interested in the ABC property but nothing is official.

“That process is moving forward but the plans are to someday have a world-class stadium there that VCU and the Squirrels can use. They’re working through that right now,” Northam said.

Any remaining uncertainty about the future of the land hasn’t stopped local developers from snatching up surrounding parcels and betting something big will happen.

Thalhimer Realty Partners bought the Wesco Distribution site at 2902 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd. this year for $3.7 million, and in 2018 it bought the former Pet Dairy facility at 1501-1507 Robin Hood Road for $5.5 million.

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