Intermediate Terminal building ‘more than capable’ for restaurant use, report says

The building overlooks the Virginia Capital Trail. (Photos by Mike Platania)

Note: This story has been updated with comments received from Stone Brewing after publication.

The Intermediate Terminal building apparently isn’t in such bad shape after all, according to a structural assessment the city commissioned last month.

The Richmond Economic Development Authority on Thursday presented findings of a structural engineering report it received last week that indicates the building at 3101 E. Main St. appears to be in better condition than initially thought.

The 100-year-old building had been slated to be converted into a bistro by Stone Brewing Co. as part of the 2014 deal with the city that brought the San Diego-based brewery to Richmond.

intermediate terminal

The 100-year-old building had been slated to be converted into a bistro by Stone Brewing Co. (BizSense file photo)

Those plans got derailed in 2018, when Stone and city officials said the building was structurally insufficient to be converted into a bistro. The two parties had sought City Council’s permission to demolish the building, but halted those efforts later that year.

The report, from local engineering firm Dunbar Milby Williams Pittman & Vaughan, states that the floors of the building appear to be “more than capable of supporting gravity loads for a number of possible future uses, including a restaurant,” and that it should be structurally adequate to resist the effects of a 100-year flood event. The EDA, which owns the building, hired the firm in January to determine what type of commercial operation it could handle.

A recent engineering report concluded the footings of the building are in better shape than originally thought.

The firm said its biggest concern for a future use of the building relates to the soil below the structure’s footings. Froehling & Robertson, another area engineering firm, also reported that reinforcing steel is present in at least some of the footings.

“That was a change from what we’d known before about the building,” EDA Chairman John Molster said regarding the footings.

“I think the range of uses for the building are quite wide, quite good and much better than what we thought,” Molster said.

Leonard Sledge, the city’s economic development director, said his department will be passing the report on to Stone.

“They’re the ones who are tasked with moving forward with the Terminal building. In terms of the findings … there are a number of options to make the building usable with some improvements,” Sledge said.

Stone has been mum about its revised plans for a Richmond bistro, for which it was set to receive $8 million in bonds fronted by the city. But Dominic Engels, Stone’s CEO, said last fall they’re still in the design process and are committed to bringing the concept to Richmond.

In attendance at Thursday’s EDA meeting was Jerry Cable, owner of The Tobacco Co. Restaurant and several other Shockoe Slip properties. In 2018, Cable offered the city $1.5 million to purchase the Intermediate Terminal building, but was rejected, according to a Times-Dispatch report.

Sledge said after the meeting that he has not had any conversations with Cable about the building.

On Friday, Stone co-founder Greg Koch said in a statement that the company had just received the report and was still processing it.

“…Admittedly, it’s quite frustrating to receive a third party detailed engineering report several years ago telling us that the building was non-structurally viable, after we’d invested more than a half million dollars into plans and designs. And now, we were just given another report to us today, saying the opposite,” Koch said.

“Honestly, we are trying to absorb this new info and still aren’t sure what the heck to think.”

Koch went on to say that the company never sought to demolish the building, and that such a decision is not Stone’s call to make since it doesn’t own the structure.

“…we simply went along with a plan that called for demolition as we were under the justifiable impression from experts at the time that there was no other route,” Koch said.

Correction: Stone Brewing has yet to receive the $8 million in bond funding for the bistro. An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that it had. The city, in its agreement with Stone, has offered to front the bonds to fund the bistro’s construction.

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Michelle Reynolds
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Michelle Reynolds

Sure seems Stone was trying to weasel out of their commitment and concocted a questionable story about the building being unsuitable. Hoping demolition would be approved before anyone could get a second opinion. What a terrible partner they have been.

Jake Teepe
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Jake Teepe

What facts, figures, forecasts, and other evidence do you have to speculate (at best) that Stone is a.) trying to weasel out and b.) have been a terrible partner? This typical crying over all-things-large development and pro-business is so old and so common it’s almost funny. Here is the plan: 1.) Large biz development plan attempts to or succeeds in unfolding here in RVA. 2.) The details of the plan always, as they should, involve gives and takes from the business and the City. 3.) crybabies ignore or discount all benefits to the city (or spout about complicated business issues… Read more »

Michelle Reynolds
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Michelle Reynolds

Jerry Cable, owner of the Tobacco company, is offering 1.5 million for the Terminal building so he can put a restaurant there without public money. Yet Stone can’t make it work with an 8 million public subsidy? Enlighten me how Stone deserves the benefit of the doubt still after all this time? The Stone deal was not just unpopular with citizens like myself either. Business owners in the restaurant and brewery industry were totally like “WTF, why is government putting their thumb on the scale and providing major subsidy to national companies to compete against local.” New schools aren’t going… Read more »

Michelle Reynolds
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Michelle Reynolds

And just to elaborate one more point on George Mason elementary school. I do not have kids. But two years ago on a corporate volunteer day I went to GM elementary with 3 coworkers to visit the classrooms and help the teachers. My coworker who lives off Malvern and sends her kids to Mary Mumford was literally sobbing after the day was over about how much worse the conditions at that school where than her daughters school. Real actual genuine tears. Never seen her cry before or since. But that day tore her up. There should not be that level… Read more »

David Humphrey
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David Humphrey

I find it interesting that this all came up back in 2018 and the study was only commissioned last month. Who has been sitting on this for over a year?

Michael Dodson
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Michael Dodson

That would be the incredible Econ Development Dept and our EDA; you know the experts that would have managed the bond sale and overseen Navy Hill Project.

William W Willis
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William W Willis

I just hope that Stone builds their Bristo and Beer Gardens and the city follows through with the sugar pad park alongside it. This building Renovated or a teardown and rebuild does not matter to me in this instance with no historical value and Richmond has done a great job restoring so many historic and old buildings every once in a while an old build must go in order to make way for something newer, better and safer.

Ed Christina
Guest

The story JUST SAID the current building is viable for the suggested use. Other than tax credits, why would you WANT to tear it down? Just because a building is “newer” does not mean it is “better and safer.” Also, how can a 100 year old building have no historical significance? This must be pretty frustrating to Hardywood. (And other brewers in the city) Look at what Hardywood is doing in the city and Goochland with much less spent on tax dollars to prop them up. Its not like city residents are going to get happy hour prices from Stone,… Read more »

David Humphrey
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David Humphrey

Hardwood just sold a bunch of their property in the City. Essentially all they have left is a tasting room site. I think that is Hardywood’s answer to the City.

Byron Knowlson
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Byron Knowlson

What property in the city has Hardywood sold? I know their building at 2408 Ownby just sold but they lease that property, they don’t own it. They are moving the operations in 2408 over to 2410 which they do own.

David Humphrey
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David Humphrey

Sorry thought they owned 2408. I was just in 2410 two weekends ago and it is now a large event space where the equipment used to be. Not sure when they plan to start moving operations over to 2410 but fir now it is a tasting room/event space.

Paul Hammond
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Paul Hammond

Often that’s exactly what it does mean, better, safer and cheaper, but they did agree to renovate the building or pay some kind of penalty if they don’t.

Jeff Smith
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Jeff Smith

Why would they do this? They just squandered a massing investment in a world bistro in Berlin and closed that facility down. They do not have money to do this right.

Juliellen Sarver
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Juliellen Sarver

I wonder if the most recent study considers removing the exterior masonry walls and replacing them with glass , which is what Stone–and any other restaurant–would need to do in order to open the views to the river and skyline. Once you remove the masonry walls and replace them with glass, the foundations would need to be reinforced to counteract shearing. The air conditioning requirements for a huge glass building that faces west and south would require mechanical systems that are much larger than those required for a non-glass building. Those mechanicals would need to be placed on the roof… Read more »

Michael Dodson
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Michael Dodson

On the A.C. that building once had heavy equipment moving in it and hundreds of heavy steel 1950s era (that we used through to 1990s) voting machines. The roof has concrete supports. I have no doubt it can support any size HVAC system.

The windows replacing the walls is the real question ?

Leon Phoenix
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Leon Phoenix

Haven’t had a Stone beer since they wimped on the deal. If they honor their commitment I might reconsider. Cheers in advance

John Lindner
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John Lindner

It’s both historic and ugly. I can’t blame Stone for wanting to weasel out of it, especially if there’s not a practical way to add windows. My biggest problem was that their new construction would have been significantly smaller.

I wish there was a way where everyone would win, like Stone could demolish and rebuild on the same footprint and overall design with the road running under it, but with glass replacing the brick within the structural grid. That way it would have a connection to the original building but with fewer engineering challenges.

Juliellen Sarver
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Juliellen Sarver

The city–at the request of some neighbors–commissioned a study of the historical significance. The study concluded that the building is not historically significant. The design was for glass to replace the walls. Glass does not carry load, either vertical (weight) or horizontal (wind). So replacing the masonry with glass would require all the other stuff. The elimination of the road underneath was determined by the 2012 Downriver Masterplan, which predated Stone by at least two years. So that would have happened anyways as part of the Dock Street improvements. It’s too bad that demolition was not allowed in order to… Read more »

E.G. Bosch
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E.G. Bosch

Gropius without windows? Bureaucratically Expedient School? New Deal Piecemeal? This building is neither architecturally/historically significant or aesthetically pleasing. It’s an imposing hulking concrete slab. Preserving this eyesore is absurd. Just because humans made it 90 years ago doesn’t make it special. Looks like a brutalist crackden in present form. Humanity insulting nature on the banks. Opportunity lost for nostalgia for sake of nostalgia. A pity only bureaucrats can create.

Brian Ezzelle
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Brian Ezzelle

that mindset is how we lost Pennsylvania Station in NYC.

E.G. Bosch
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E.G. Bosch

If this is not a joke, you’re clearly taking yourself and your “preservation “ mandate far too seriously.

The mere comparison is preposterous

Allen Tucker
Guest
Allen Tucker

Surely you jest…?

Lizzie Younkin
Guest

Here is the full quote from Stone Brewing Executive Chairman & Co-Founder: “We know beer. When it comes to forensic structural engineering analysis, that’s where we need to rely on others. Admittedly, it’s quite frustrating to receive a third party detailed engineering report several years ago telling us that the building was non-structurally viable, after we’d invested more than a half million dollars into plans and designs. And now, we were just given another report to us today, saying the opposite. Honestly, we are trying to absorb this new info and still aren’t sure what the heck to think. It’s… Read more »

Fred Squire
Guest

It would be a lot easier if they just did the right thing and terminated their deal with the city. – their market is softening(whatever), Richmond hasn’t turned out for them(maybe) and they want done with spending Cap Ex in this town….fine – the taxpayer sure doesn’t want to pay for a restaurant no one is asking for and will probably close in a year or two after open – the city can’t figure their way out of a paper bag let alone this deal For the love, just call it a day and agree to move on. No one… Read more »