VCU, in assembling real estate for its forthcoming athletics village near The Diamond, recently became a local distillery’s landlord but the booze makers are staying put for now.
Last month, the university purchased James River Distillery’s building at 2700 Hardy St. It bought the 0.15-acre parcel for $183,000, making it one of VCU’s smallest acquisitions in recent years.
James River Distillery will continue operating in the building, at least in the near-term.
“We’re leasing it back for at least two years. We don’t know where we’ll go after that,” said James River’s head distiller Dwight Chew. “We’ve got plenty of time to figure it out.”
The Hardy Street building was formerly the home of Cirrus Vodka, before it was purchased at auction in 2013 by Jonathan Staples, who started James River Distillery in the building and has operated there ever since. The distillery is best known for its gins, however, it also makes rum, vodka, Aquavit and other spirits.
Wife-and-husband duo Kristi and Travis Croxton were also once co-owners in the venture, but when reached last month Kristi said she and Travis, who’s also a co-owner in Rappahannock Oyster Co., sold their stake in the distillery about five years ago.
The distillery building is just a few blocks south of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Authority’s current headquarters at 2901 Hermitage Road, one of the larger pieces VCU is eyeing for the athletics village assemblage.
Work is well underway on the ABC’s new headquarters in Hanover, and the state legislature has given VCU first right of refusal to purchase the Hermitage Road parcel, which VCU spokespeople confirmed they intend to exercise. The university did not disclose a timeline for when it hopes to purchase the land or what the exact purchase price would be.
Last year, VCU began assembling land nearby for the athletics village, starting with the Greyhound maintenance center at 2701 Hermitage Road which it bought last spring for $11.7 million.
In December 2020, it bought the adjacent Salvation Army rehabilitation center at 2601 Hermitage for $4.5 million. The James River Distillery building is adjacent to the Greyhound and Salvation Army parcels.
It’s unclear what the ultimate fate of The Diamond will be, but private sector developers are already getting busy in the surrounding area. In recent years, Thalhimer Realty Partners has gradually acquired about 12 acres of land on and along Arthur Ashe Boulevard and it’s beginning to get to work on it.
TRP recently announced plans for Scott’s Walk, a restaurant and retail project on the former Idealease site at 3064 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd. and is seeking to rezone 2902 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd. to pave the way for development.
The Diamond and the 60 acres of city-owned real estate have also caught the eye of developers all over town, who are anticipating a request for proposals from the city to redevelop the area.