Mayo Island hits the market for $19M

Mayo Island, pictured on the far side of the river, has hit the market for $19 million. (Mike Platania photo)

Nearly 15 acres of downtown riverfront land has hit the market. The catch: it’s on an island.

Mayo Island, the 14.5-acre plot on the James River between Manchester and downtown, was listed for sale for $19 million in recent weeks.

Located at 501 S. 14th St., the island is bisected by its namesake bridge and has been owned by the Shaia family since the 1980s. The majority of the island is either undeveloped land or parking lots. There are a handful of structures on the island, including a pair of warehouses totaling about 32,000 square feet on the island’s eastern side.

Alan Shaia is marketing the island with Charter Realty as a redevelopment opportunity. Shaia said a VCU lease on a parking lot ends at the end of April, prompting them to test the hot real estate market.

“It’s a unique piece. It’s a large acreage and you don’t see that much in downtown Richmond,” Shaia said. “It’s the right time to sell it, we think. It’s a bigger development than we could do.”

Named for the Mayo family which helped lay out the grid of Richmond in the 1700s, Mayo Island previously held entertainment and industrial uses over the course of its history.

In the 1800s, the island was populated with boathouses, a sawmill, and the Mayo Field baseball park, which operated until 1940. The first iteration of the Mayo Bridge was a privately-held toll bridge in the early 1800s before Confederate soldiers burned it down in 1865 as they lost the Civil War.

More recently, a Wise Recycling plant had operated on the island for over 20 years. But that site is now occupied mostly by a food truck court.

City records show the parcels making up Mayo Island were most recently assessed at a combined $3.8 million. The island is zoned M-1 Light Industrial district. A 0.25-acre plot located just off the bridge’s western side is not included in the offering.

Shaia said the family had Mayo Island under contract to developers in 2007 who were planning to build a variety of buildings with a mix of uses including residential, office, retail and a hotel.

He said he’d be glad to see a similar project put into action on Mayo Island this time around.

“Honestly, I think you could do a nice development and retain a sizable park area. So, it’s a win-win,” Shaia said. “You’d have people living, working and playing with some of the best views of Richmond. That’s my thought.”

Shaia said they’ve received some interest already, but no agreements have been made.

While rare, it’s not entirely unusual for islands in Richmond to sell. In 2018, a group led by local outdoorsman and entrepreneur Andy Thompson bought Sharp’s Island for $35,000. The roughly 1-acre plot is adjacent to Mayo Island and is undevelopable as it sits below the flood plain.

A year later, Thompson doubled the number of islands in his portfolio with Riverside Outfitters’ $11,000 purchase of Goat Island near the Z-dam.

The listing comes as the city and state are charting a path to replace the 109-year-old Mayo Bridge, a project that could span years.

Sen. Mark Warner recently announced that $5 million in the recently-passed federal infrastructure bill has been earmarked for the Mayo Bridge replacement project, which could cost up to $80 million. CBS6 reported in late March that city officials recently said it could take two years of planning before work begins, with an additional two years of work to follow.

Shaia said he thinks the bridge replacement project could happen in conjunction with Mayo Island’s redevelopment.

“I think in the end it’ll be an advantage to the property,” Shaia said of the bridge project.

In addition to Mayo Island and a handful of properties downtown, the Shaia family has also delved into development in the suburbs, including a 200-plus apartment project in Hanover.

 

Mayo Island, pictured on the far side of the river, has hit the market for $19 million. (Mike Platania photo)

Nearly 15 acres of downtown riverfront land has hit the market. The catch: it’s on an island.

Mayo Island, the 14.5-acre plot on the James River between Manchester and downtown, was listed for sale for $19 million in recent weeks.

Located at 501 S. 14th St., the island is bisected by its namesake bridge and has been owned by the Shaia family since the 1980s. The majority of the island is either undeveloped land or parking lots. There are a handful of structures on the island, including a pair of warehouses totaling about 32,000 square feet on the island’s eastern side.

Alan Shaia is marketing the island with Charter Realty as a redevelopment opportunity. Shaia said a VCU lease on a parking lot ends at the end of April, prompting them to test the hot real estate market.

“It’s a unique piece. It’s a large acreage and you don’t see that much in downtown Richmond,” Shaia said. “It’s the right time to sell it, we think. It’s a bigger development than we could do.”

Named for the Mayo family which helped lay out the grid of Richmond in the 1700s, Mayo Island previously held entertainment and industrial uses over the course of its history.

In the 1800s, the island was populated with boathouses, a sawmill, and the Mayo Field baseball park, which operated until 1940. The first iteration of the Mayo Bridge was a privately-held toll bridge in the early 1800s before Confederate soldiers burned it down in 1865 as they lost the Civil War.

More recently, a Wise Recycling plant had operated on the island for over 20 years. But that site is now occupied mostly by a food truck court.

City records show the parcels making up Mayo Island were most recently assessed at a combined $3.8 million. The island is zoned M-1 Light Industrial district. A 0.25-acre plot located just off the bridge’s western side is not included in the offering.

Shaia said the family had Mayo Island under contract to developers in 2007 who were planning to build a variety of buildings with a mix of uses including residential, office, retail and a hotel.

He said he’d be glad to see a similar project put into action on Mayo Island this time around.

“Honestly, I think you could do a nice development and retain a sizable park area. So, it’s a win-win,” Shaia said. “You’d have people living, working and playing with some of the best views of Richmond. That’s my thought.”

Shaia said they’ve received some interest already, but no agreements have been made.

While rare, it’s not entirely unusual for islands in Richmond to sell. In 2018, a group led by local outdoorsman and entrepreneur Andy Thompson bought Sharp’s Island for $35,000. The roughly 1-acre plot is adjacent to Mayo Island and is undevelopable as it sits below the flood plain.

A year later, Thompson doubled the number of islands in his portfolio with Riverside Outfitters’ $11,000 purchase of Goat Island near the Z-dam.

The listing comes as the city and state are charting a path to replace the 109-year-old Mayo Bridge, a project that could span years.

Sen. Mark Warner recently announced that $5 million in the recently-passed federal infrastructure bill has been earmarked for the Mayo Bridge replacement project, which could cost up to $80 million. CBS6 reported in late March that city officials recently said it could take two years of planning before work begins, with an additional two years of work to follow.

Shaia said he thinks the bridge replacement project could happen in conjunction with Mayo Island’s redevelopment.

“I think in the end it’ll be an advantage to the property,” Shaia said of the bridge project.

In addition to Mayo Island and a handful of properties downtown, the Shaia family has also delved into development in the suburbs, including a 200-plus apartment project in Hanover.

 

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Don O’Keefe
Don O’Keefe
2 months ago

This is perhaps the most visually prominent large development site in Richmond, and for environmental and aesthetic reasons it will need to be handled with the utmost sensitivity. I hope whoever develops it will engage the best possible designers, for the sake of our city. My suggested reference for a starting point: Île de la Cité in Paris. Set the bar high.

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
2 months ago
Reply to  Don O’Keefe

The floodplain issue is huge in any development proposal. I think it will be difficult to incorporate any residential uses on the island because of lack of flood-free access. I’d love to see a parks and recreation purchase of it, perhaps for a state park. Let’s use it as a public resource.

Rik Nary
Rik Nary
2 months ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

This is correct. It is also not just the floodplain, but the floodway, so development would likely not be done unless it has no increase in the 1% annual chance flood elsewhere. With the BFE being 35-36 feet there that’s a high building for residential.

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
2 months ago
Reply to  Rik Nary

What’s the difference between floodplain and floodway?

Michael Morgan-Dodson
Michael Morgan-Dodson
2 months ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

Ed generally the floodway is the part of the actual body of water and you are never to build in the floodway. FEMA regulations allow for properly designed buildings in the floodplain which is areas adjacent to the floodway a.k.a. the riverbed that have a tendency to flood. Floodways are where the strong moving current would be located. You cannot get a FEMA flood insurance policy for a building that is constructed in the floodway no matter how high it is built or how many access points are above the BFE. They would have to get private insurance and I’m… Read more »

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
2 months ago

thanks

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
2 months ago
Reply to  Don O’Keefe

Would be nice…. certainly…. but to inject some realism, this is Richmond and those who set the bar to such heights just remain pretensious dreamers and not doers. I mean, c’mon… the europeans don’t even build that way any more and there are historical reasons why that part of Paris is so expensively built up… rolls eyes. But, hey, if you want to put the money up as a partner, I bet the buyer would love to use it to build by whatever standard you deem acceptable — as long as the USE generates free cash flow eventually, of course,… Read more »

Jackson Joyner
Jackson Joyner
2 months ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

I am convinced you are some sort of ai/bot that generates vaguely relavent sentences.

Justin Dooley
Justin Dooley
2 months ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

Don’t know why this was downvoted, he ain’t lying. Distinctive and trendy adaptive reuse aside, I can’t think of one single for-profit new construction development in downtown Richmond built since I moved here 20 years ago that would stand the test of time either from an architectural or quality standpoint. Exhibit A: “Main2525” at the corner of main st and 25th. Quite possibly the ugliest building ever built anywhere, ever. I sometimes cut across using Franklin st on my way to the East end to avoid looking at it.

Jack Guin
Jack Guin
2 months ago
Reply to  Don O’Keefe

Can we take the church that the Jefferson hotel wants to knock down and prominently place it on the island? that’d be cool

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
2 months ago

The Shaias have done more than test the multi family development waters in Hanover County. They are that jurisdiction’s largest builder of apartments, now underway on 400 more units near Hanover High School. That project should take them over the 1000 unit mark in the last five years. They also bought RC Evans Management of about 3500 units across the region and rebranded it TSB (The Shaia Boys?) Management.

Solomon Rosedale
Solomon Rosedale
2 months ago

The eastern most part of the island (past the Southern RR bridge) is an amazing greenspace that unfortunately has been restricted over the years, despite signage that indicates it is intended for public access. I know they’ve tested the waters (no pun intended) with events there over the years.. it would be great to see it have that type of use again in the future. I do recall there being some issue with access to public utilities in the past which made residential a problem.. but maybe that’s been resolved??

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
2 months ago

Cool!! Interesting that they are asking only 19 million — likely a reason for that… Everyone loves an island — at least in THEORY. It is well known in business circles though that locating a business that needs to attract people is better where lots of people can get to it from multiple directions and best if people are forced to pass by it without even looking for it. There is only on exception to this that I can think of — a destination node — for instance, the world is full of nice oceanfront real estate — take a… Read more »

lee Cl;ark
lee Cl;ark
2 months ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

Look at Davis Islands just south of downtown Tampa. It is the former home of Derek Jeter (Tom Brady rented his house) . Many beautiful mansions are located there, creating an air of exclusivity. This piece of land is quite a bit larger than Mayo and I would think Mayo Island would not become another Davis Islands. Hopefully the nature of the island would be preserved in some way.

Jackson Joyner
Jackson Joyner
2 months ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

What?

Daniel Cooper
Daniel Cooper
2 months ago

Hemingway Transport Inc. whose tag was “A Whale of a Truckline”, operated on that island in the late 70s early 80s. My father worked there as a Sales Manager. It was a great place to explore back then as a child.

Leon Phoenix
Leon Phoenix
2 months ago

The James River Park system is amazing, but it lacks a beach. The city should buy it, remove the buildings, plant trees and flowers, and create a sandy beach, similar to Yorktown Beach. North of the bridge could be parking, restrooms, concessions, etc. with a footbridge over the Mayo Bridge. The southern section of the island would live oaks, grass, flowers, and a beautiful sandy beach.

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
2 months ago
Reply to  Leon Phoenix

Texas Beach doesn’t count?

Lou Baker
Lou Baker
2 months ago

Question. Is it possible to have a natural area that can be open to everyone on an island if the space is made up of condos, apts, or homes? Where would the “experience of nature” come in with traffic, noise, and light blocking structures? Will there also be retail space? And if the new construction looks anything like the ugly stacked boxes that are appearing everywhere, why would anyone want to live there? Not to mention the floods that take their own path. See newspaper photos of Camille in 1969.

Jeff Ensley
Jeff Ensley
2 months ago

I envision a paved loop on the perimeter of the island for hiking and biking with a marina and boat landing on the eastern end. A shop geared toward boaters and fishermen would do well there. Perhaps there could even be a floating fishing pier extending off the protected downriver/southeastern point of the island, out past the overhead presence of I-95. An elevated restaurant/cafe/brewery geared toward the enjoyment of the outdoors would be well placed on the northwestern side of the island facing downtown. It should have a small takeout area for kayakers/rafters that have just come through Pipeline rapids… Read more »

Scott Hermann
Scott Hermann
2 months ago

Someone in need of a big write off needs to buy this and donate it to the Boy Scouts for the purpose of outdoor recreation, character development, and reaching the underprivileged youth in Richmond.

Stephen N Duke
Stephen N Duke
2 months ago

Go look at the pictures of Mayo Island when Agnus hit. Then sober up. Then build a park. Biking, whitewater, boating, live music, fishing.

Neighborhood Art LLC
Neighborhood Art LLC
2 months ago

We wash cars on the island 7 days a week best detail in the city. 510 S 14th St.