Dominion to build city-block-sized electric vehicle charging park downtown

The site left over from the implosion of One James River Plaza, as seen last year. Dominion Energy plans to build a “clean energy park” there. (BizSense file images)

After scrapping plans for an office tower on the site, Dominion Energy has decided what it wants to do with its vacant city block downtown.

The energy utility giant said Monday it intends to build a “clean energy park” at 701 E. Cary St., the 2-acre site that was left blank by the May 2020 implosion of the company’s 21-story One James River Plaza office building.

The dormant, leveled-out lot would be transformed into a site with 28 electric vehicle charging stations, all to be powered by solar panel canopies and wind turbines. The park will also have energy storage in the form of batteries, and green space for public use.

A conceptual mock-up of the planned park.

The company said it has enlisted Whiting-Turner as the project’s general contractor and Baskervill as its architect.

The announcement of the park plans comes about six months after Dominion put out an RFP for the site. The company didn’t specify publicly at the time that the RFP was for proposals for the park concept.

Dominion said it is aiming to have the project mostly complete by early 2024, subject to various approvals and reviews.

It said the vehicle chargers will be Level 3 fast-chargers, capable of providing more than 200 miles of charge in 15 minutes. Dominion said the site is expected to be one of the first such charging stations of its kind in an urban area in the U.S.

Dominion said it also plans to make the green space available for community events.

The park would mark a major change of course from what Dominion had envisioned for the site two years ago. Back then it had announced plans for a 17-story, 900,000-square-foot office tower called 700 Canal Place. It was to be a slightly smaller sister building for the company’s 600 Canal Place headquarters next door.

A rendering of the two towers that were planned. The one to the left, 600 Canal, has since been built but 700 Canal on the right has been scrapped.

However, those plans were scrapped last year in light of changing work-from-home trends and a decrease of Dominion’s downtown headcount after the sale of its natural gas business to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

Asked whether plans for the park leave open the possibility for future development on the site, Dominion said it has no other plans for the property at present.

The parcel was most recently assessed by the city at $10 million. It’s zoned B-4 Central Business District.

In addition to 600 Canal, Dominion has three office buildings at 120 Tredegar St. along the river and a 20-story tower at 705 E. Main St. It is in the process of selling the Main Street building to a developer for an apartment conversion.

Dominion also has listed for sale its Fan properties at 2400 and 2501 Grayland Ave., consisting of office space and a parking garage on 4.6 acres.

The company said both the Main Street and Grayland sites are under contract in deals expected to close early next year.

The site left over from the implosion of One James River Plaza, as seen last year. Dominion Energy plans to build a “clean energy park” there. (BizSense file images)

After scrapping plans for an office tower on the site, Dominion Energy has decided what it wants to do with its vacant city block downtown.

The energy utility giant said Monday it intends to build a “clean energy park” at 701 E. Cary St., the 2-acre site that was left blank by the May 2020 implosion of the company’s 21-story One James River Plaza office building.

The dormant, leveled-out lot would be transformed into a site with 28 electric vehicle charging stations, all to be powered by solar panel canopies and wind turbines. The park will also have energy storage in the form of batteries, and green space for public use.

A conceptual mock-up of the planned park.

The company said it has enlisted Whiting-Turner as the project’s general contractor and Baskervill as its architect.

The announcement of the park plans comes about six months after Dominion put out an RFP for the site. The company didn’t specify publicly at the time that the RFP was for proposals for the park concept.

Dominion said it is aiming to have the project mostly complete by early 2024, subject to various approvals and reviews.

It said the vehicle chargers will be Level 3 fast-chargers, capable of providing more than 200 miles of charge in 15 minutes. Dominion said the site is expected to be one of the first such charging stations of its kind in an urban area in the U.S.

Dominion said it also plans to make the green space available for community events.

The park would mark a major change of course from what Dominion had envisioned for the site two years ago. Back then it had announced plans for a 17-story, 900,000-square-foot office tower called 700 Canal Place. It was to be a slightly smaller sister building for the company’s 600 Canal Place headquarters next door.

A rendering of the two towers that were planned. The one to the left, 600 Canal, has since been built but 700 Canal on the right has been scrapped.

However, those plans were scrapped last year in light of changing work-from-home trends and a decrease of Dominion’s downtown headcount after the sale of its natural gas business to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

Asked whether plans for the park leave open the possibility for future development on the site, Dominion said it has no other plans for the property at present.

The parcel was most recently assessed by the city at $10 million. It’s zoned B-4 Central Business District.

In addition to 600 Canal, Dominion has three office buildings at 120 Tredegar St. along the river and a 20-story tower at 705 E. Main St. It is in the process of selling the Main Street building to a developer for an apartment conversion.

Dominion also has listed for sale its Fan properties at 2400 and 2501 Grayland Ave., consisting of office space and a parking garage on 4.6 acres.

The company said both the Main Street and Grayland sites are under contract in deals expected to close early next year.

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Thomas Nelson
Thomas Nelson
1 month ago

But it will be only a temporary use of the space, right? And something more substantive and dense will eventually be built on site within the next decade right? Right??

Tim Herm
Tim Herm
1 month ago

I’m sorry but this is absolutely idiotic. This essentially is a low density surface parking lot and they are putting it in one of the prime spots of the central business district. Are you kidding me?

Michelle Reynolds
Michelle Reynolds
1 month ago

Dominion proves once again they give zero cares about anything but their bottom line and executive bonuses. This is just land banking with a PR spin. The city should never partner with Dominion on anything economic development related. Remember when Dominion was pushing the TIF for Navy Hill and urged the city to include this site in the TIF plan because it would generate so much future tax revenue? What a farce…

Phil Perkins
Phil Perkins
1 month ago

Absolutely ridiculous

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
1 month ago

I see it as a land banking measure but also as world green energy “science fair” or “Expo” of sorts on their part. At least they aren’t leaving it as a mud hole. It could be interesting. The challenge will be to police it so it doesn’t become a homeless campground.

Ashley Smith
Ashley Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

Ugh, really, police it? Please stop

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago
Reply to  Ashley Smith

Why? Are you pro-crime?

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

Thank you for voicing these issues.

Justin Reynolds
Justin Reynolds
1 month ago

This is just horrible. We don’t need more surface parking spaces downtown and we already have a large green space right there in Kanawah plaza.

Fred Squire
Fred Squire
1 month ago

But, but, but wait….just two weeks ago folks are falling all over themselves saying “muh green space, muh park, gimme gimme gimme your land for free to walk my dog on, you private land owner/pig” not but literally 3000’ feet away.

Where are all you now?

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred Squire

Interesting observation — possibly it is WHERE this is located — maybe there are a lot less hipsters who think that others’ privately owned real estate is acutally theirs. idk

William Bagby
William Bagby
1 month ago

Someone really needs to get in their ear and convince them to change their minds about this. What a waste of prime real estate! They should’ve just sold this block to a developer or something. Or just sold the building that was already there instead of demolishing it. It wasn’t even that old!

Dr. Abe C. Gomez
Dr. Abe C. Gomez
1 month ago

What a waste of prime real estate

Mark A. Olinger
Mark A. Olinger
1 month ago

So, a “green” surface parking lot…amazing.

David Humphrey
David Humphrey
1 month ago

I too wish this would be something else, but given that there is so much uncertainty surrounding the office market right now I think this is a reasonable use for the time being. At least until the office market works itself out. It is definitely better than selling it off to a residential developer for another low rise apartment building. If the market is not there for something big right now make it something other than a mud hole until the right thing comes along.

John Signs
John Signs
1 month ago
Reply to  David Humphrey

well said

Dr. Abe C. Gomez
Dr. Abe C. Gomez
1 month ago
Reply to  David Humphrey

Have you ever seen the infrastructure required to create just a handful of BEV charging stations? Much less a full parking lot? Do you understand the time and money required to install a BEV charging station? Couple the undertaking of using infrastructure already present in the area (3 & 4 phase high voltage) with the looney tunes idea of supplementing energy with wind turbines and solar panels on canopies and you’ll end up with a parking lot that will always be…..a parking lot and nothing more. There will be no ROI, no worth while taxes generated, no attraction of out… Read more »

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago

Yeah, right? Solar needs a lot of real estate and you ever see that wind turbine on Maggie Walker actually spinning (THAT must be what they are trying to teach the Free Thinking students there…. “hmmm… they seem to SAY this is worth doing, but….”)

The only thing that makes sense would be to put windturbines and solar on TOP of these towers —- less shade, more wind.

Garry Whelan
Garry Whelan
1 month ago

How very Dominion. Greenwashing to get the headlines and nothing else of value. Wind turbines won’t work there no matter the design, will solar PV panels be shaded? Whatever, it is a terrible use for what should be a high value high rise downtown block of land.

Justin W Ranson
Justin W Ranson
1 month ago

What an absolute terrible waste of a spot that could really be used to improve the city skyline. Dominion is the worst.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago

They are now. Thanks to all the activists.

Jackson Joyner
Jackson Joyner
1 month ago

Is this some scam to get free federal money or tax breaks until they decide to build on it?

Ashley Smith
Ashley Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Jackson Joyner

My thoughts exactly, has to be

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago
Reply to  Jackson Joyner

Yeah, this occurred to me too — maybe not just a hollow PR move

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
1 month ago

I am very in favor of electric cars, and I feel that is just a huge space to devote to that, it’s going to be a traffic nightmare.

Justin Fritch
Justin Fritch
1 month ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

I am very disappointed with this project but I am very confused on how this would be a traffic nightmare? This project only has capacity for 28 cars versus the previous tower than held hundreds.

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
1 month ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

EVs use 5x the energy to produce than gasoline cars. They also consume many rare metals that must be imported.

Garry Whelan
Garry Whelan
1 month ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

EVs are 4-5x more efficient than gasoline cars. They use, not consume, rare earth metals, some of which must be imported. I distinguish between consume and use since gasoline and oil are consumed by internal combustion engines. EVs use those metals to store energy.

https://www.motortrend.com/news/evs-more-efficient-than-internal-combustion-engines/

Fred Squire
Fred Squire
1 month ago
Reply to  Garry Whelan

Gary, Please tell the whole story, yes they don’t consume fuel themselves nor emit tailpipe emissions during operation. True. But get back to me after you have visited a Chilean lithium mine or discover what powers the majority of silicone valley California homes at night to charge these cars when solar and wind gone (hint hint, diesel fuel), or most any US grid in the country that charges EV’s…..(hint, hint, more fossil fuels) So yes the EV has no fuel consumption during driving. But it 100% consumes fossil fuels to manufacture the vehicle as well as charge it. Just pointing… Read more »

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred Squire

How much diesel fuel do EV’s consume when North Anna powers the grid they are charging off of, exactly?

Garry Whelan
Garry Whelan
1 month ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

EVs are still more efficient and less polluting than ICE when they use coal powered energy.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago
Reply to  Garry Whelan

not really true. Takes a VERY long time to catch up to ICVs

Fred Squire
Fred Squire
1 month ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

If we want to talk VA, Dominion burns plenty of natural gas turbines to supplement Nuke power. California is shutting their only Nuke power down, yet they are pulling 1’000’s of diesel gensets into their state from all over the US to supplement their grid. I like electric cars. I want Tesla to buck the VA dealer model. But to think they operate fully independent of fossil fuels at any time of their life cycle is simply incorrect. People just want to believe they don’t use fossil fuels because they don’t pump it in the car itself. I think a… Read more »

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred Squire

Straw man after straw man, and so proud of being a jerk, regurgitating pre set talking points that don’t match up to what was said in snide condescending fashion.
Typical.
No one said EV’s are perfect, we just think they are BETTER for the future of the planet than ICE vehicles.

Fred Squire
Fred Squire
1 month ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

Huh? “Straw man Pre set talking points,” what are you saying?

Right off Dominion’s website. They operate 10 Natural Gas generation facilities in VA powering about 2,000,000 homes and buildings. Natural gas is a fossil fuel.

So EV’s in VA are not charged solely by North Anna nuclear output.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

The fact that you think you are not the one puking pre-set talking points is pretty funny.

Garry Whelan
Garry Whelan
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred Squire

If we want to tell the whole story, don’t zero out the fossil fuel extraction, processing, transportation and eventual consumption required by ICE. I never claimed anything was perfect and there are environmental impacts of EVs- all lower than fossil fuels. EVs and large batteries are immature technologies so can, do and will continue to improve. If you’re waiting for perfect then wait on. If you want to look up the lifecycle analysis of EVs you will see them being better than ICE in pretty much every way.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago
Reply to  Garry Whelan

First, if there is one thing adults learn, it is hard to trust ANYONEs numbers. Second — the best numbers are for the small Chinese golf cart like EVs.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago
Reply to  Garry Whelan

It’s complicated. For a rather low range electric vehicle, you have to put a LOT of miles on it before you start becoming virtuous. Since people want 300+ mile range, the producers have responded, but that comes with a problem — for every mile more you need more battery, which means more metal, even though Li is the lightest metal, it is still a metal, which means for every bit of more energy storage, there is more relative weight which means you have to add a LOT of storage to get a LITTLE more range and hence the distance you… Read more »

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
1 month ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

Cut and pasted right wing talking points. yawn.

Jerel C. Wilmore
Jerel C. Wilmore
1 month ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

What Dominion ought to build on that site is about four stories of EV-equipped parking deck and 6-10 stories of apartments on top of them. Richmond needs EV-friendly apartments.

Matt Klaman
Matt Klaman
1 month ago

More green space, utilizing green energy to power more eco-friendly transit options and everyone is up in arms. The irony. I applaud Dominion on this. No one is building office towers because they are the complete opposite of this. They suck energy and other resources, they sit half-vacant, they cost a lot to build and maintain and not many workers are using them anymore.

Justin Fritch
Justin Fritch
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt Klaman

The green space that is already there is barely used, especially with larger, better options just down the street. Why would you think we need more?

John Signs
John Signs
1 month ago
Reply to  Justin Fritch

Matt is right, it’s going to take time for the office buildings to get back to capacity…so why build another office tower at this time.

Justin Fritch
Justin Fritch
1 month ago
Reply to  John Signs

Agreed there but office is not the only option, especially with new and converted residential towers being announced all around this site.

John Signs
John Signs
1 month ago
Reply to  Justin Fritch

Justin, agree with you on that. Surely if residential was an option DE would have sold the block to a developer for the right price (since it’s not related to their business).

Garry Whelan
Garry Whelan
1 month ago
Reply to  John Signs

Is there any reason this couldn’t be residential?

Henry Noland
Henry Noland
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt Klaman

I agree

Justin W Ranson
Justin W Ranson
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt Klaman

It’s not “Green Space,” It’s a parking lot with a few trees.

Ashley Smith
Ashley Smith
1 month ago

I wonder how much government money they are getting to fund this project?

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
1 month ago
Reply to  Ashley Smith

I wonder if we can get every office building, hotel, and apartment complex to start publishing the amount of tax breaks and subsidies they get to build? In the same font as the name of the project, on the site, for the duration of constrution.

Dave Davidson
Dave Davidson
1 month ago

It doesn’t make sense to put in DC fast charging. Instead, put in level 2 so that people who work in the area can charge while at work. That would especially help those who live in apartments and condos and can’t charge at home.

Jon Baker
Jon Baker
1 month ago

Whether Dominion is doing it for government grants, greenwashing, or whatever other motive, I’m glad to see this development. It will provide a place for EV owners traveling on I-95 to refuel and gives them a reason to stop in downtown Richmond that they didn’t have before. The Chamber of Commerce can use this. For the folks living in apartments and working downtown, it’ll give them a greater ability to drive electric if they like, by having fast charging capabilities nearby.

Andy Burch
Andy Burch
1 month ago

Increased tax credits for installing EV charging stations if installed after 2022 according to the Inflation Reduction Act that just passed August 16th 2022. The tax credits increase from up to $30,000 per EV Station to $100,000 if built after** 2022.

Christopher Branch
Christopher Branch
1 month ago

I find it absolutely incredible that everyone seems to be critical of Dominion’s plan for their vacant city block. I bet some of the very people who now want more apartments and lament the loss tax revenue that an office tower would generate are the very same people who were opposed to Dominion’s plan the revitalize Navy Hill. Where is that project now. Under Northam’s tenure, the Legislature passed all sorts of alternative energy bills. That’s the reason why Dominion is spending billions on off shore wind farms and converting 100’s of thousands of acres of farmland to solar farms.… Read more »

Gary Miller
Gary Miller
1 month ago

I don’t understand why folks don’t understand the concept here. I have a nephew who is a hard-core urban planner, so I understand that this isn’t the best use of space in an urban planning sense, but…  life isn’t only/always about cramming the most usage out of a given square footage. Consider the huge amount of “wasted” space dedicated to beautiful fountains and other aesthetic features in Europe for example.  Dominion has an empty lot they’re not using at the moment and they are simply trying to showcase their product with a future forward leaning and an urban… Read more »

Michael P Morgan-Dodson
Michael P Morgan-Dodson
1 month ago
Reply to  Gary Miller

Wait so there are NO frequented service establishments or signs to them for motorists using on I-95 (and this is well below I-64) at all but somehow people touting the project say that travelers through Richmond in EVs will stop and use this location to charge their vehicles. A location mile from the free downtown exit down several one-way streets (or shorter if you pay a toll twice – and Main Street station expansion of its existing ports would have made much more sense). Must be the same backers who thought Main Street station would attract out of town shoppers… Read more »

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
1 month ago

I know this doesn’t apply to people who use Jitterbug phones, but the vast majority of people who want to fund EV charging stations either use an app on their phone or the GPS of their car.

Amanda Johansson
Amanda Johansson
1 month ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

One thing to note about electric vehicles, signs don’t tell people where to charge, the internal navigation systems are synced with charging networks and tell the driver where to charge, or they use apps.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago

Man am GLAD I sold all my D stock after the left started hiring criminals to be activists and convinced everyone that D should be selling its Natural Gas off to Warren Buffett and investing in white elephants.

I mean, this park will be a nice thing for residents downtown, and EV owners too — but D will make zero money from this use of very valuable real estate — except maybe to impress Larry Fink.

Alejandro Andrade
Alejandro Andrade
1 month ago

This could potentially be made better by Dominion agreeing to put it underground and have the rest designated as park space above the parking lot or park space/food truck area. Just making the best of a bad situation – being the addition of more surface parking lots in a prime downtown location.