Dominion to sell downtown city block after scrapping plans for ‘clean energy park’

4.19R Dominion

The site left after the implosion of One James River Plaza, as seen last year. Dominion Energy had planned to build a “clean energy park” there.

A full city block in downtown Richmond may be developed after all, as Dominion Energy has changed course yet again for the vacant lot it owns next to its headquarters.

The company confirmed this week it has scrapped its plans to build a “clean energy park” at 701 E. Cary St., and instead plans to list the 2-acre site for sale.

“We are no longer developing the project and in the coming weeks will launch a process to sell the property,” a Dominion spokesman said in an email.

A sale of the property would mark yet another turn for the parcel that was leveled and left dormant after the May 2020 implosion of Dominion’s 21-story One James River Plaza office building.

4.19R Dominion rendering 700x467 1

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.

Dominion initially planned to build a 17-story, 900,000-square-foot office tower called 700 Canal Place on the site. It was to have been a slightly smaller sister building to the company’s 600 Canal Place headquarters next door. But those plans were called off last year in light of changing work-from-home trends and a decrease in Dominion’s downtown employee headcount after the sale of its natural gas business to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

Then, last October, the company announced plans for the park, which would feature 28 electric vehicle charging stations powered by solar panel canopies and wind turbines, and green space for public use.

Dominion went as far as enlisting Whiting-Turner as the project’s general contractor and Baskervill as its architect and in late May had filed for a special-use permit application for the park. A public hearing for the permit had been scheduled for the City Council’s June 26 meeting.

expanded park preview

A conceptual mock-up of the planned park, which was to have a layout in the shape of the “D” Dominion logo.

The company said this week its decision to forgo the park project and sell the real estate was a “question of capital allocation.”

“We’re redeploying this capital into customer-facing resiliency and clean energy infrastructure programs aimed at fulfilling our core mission of safely delivering reliable and affordable energy to millions of homes and businesses in the states we serve,” the company said.

Dominion did not say whether it plans to list the property itself or hire an outside brokerage.

The company said it’s too soon to say whether Dominion would be involved in any future development of the site. However, its possible involvement as a tenant of any future building on the property is unlikely. The company previously said it has ample office space between its remaining local hubs at 600 Canal, three office buildings at 120 Tredegar St. along the river and a sizable complex in Innsbrook.

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

According to the special-use permit application for the park, future use of the land is designated in the city’s Richmond 300 Master Plan as “Downtown Mixed-Use.”

The company has other real estate deals in play in the city. It’s under contract to sell its 20-story office tower at 705 E. Main St. to a local developer for an apartment conversion. It’s also in the process of selling its five-acre compound on Greyland Avenue in the Fan.

4.19R Dominion

The site left after the implosion of One James River Plaza, as seen last year. Dominion Energy had planned to build a “clean energy park” there.

A full city block in downtown Richmond may be developed after all, as Dominion Energy has changed course yet again for the vacant lot it owns next to its headquarters.

The company confirmed this week it has scrapped its plans to build a “clean energy park” at 701 E. Cary St., and instead plans to list the 2-acre site for sale.

“We are no longer developing the project and in the coming weeks will launch a process to sell the property,” a Dominion spokesman said in an email.

A sale of the property would mark yet another turn for the parcel that was leveled and left dormant after the May 2020 implosion of Dominion’s 21-story One James River Plaza office building.

4.19R Dominion rendering 700x467 1

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.

Dominion initially planned to build a 17-story, 900,000-square-foot office tower called 700 Canal Place on the site. It was to have been a slightly smaller sister building to the company’s 600 Canal Place headquarters next door. But those plans were called off last year in light of changing work-from-home trends and a decrease in Dominion’s downtown employee headcount after the sale of its natural gas business to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

Then, last October, the company announced plans for the park, which would feature 28 electric vehicle charging stations powered by solar panel canopies and wind turbines, and green space for public use.

Dominion went as far as enlisting Whiting-Turner as the project’s general contractor and Baskervill as its architect and in late May had filed for a special-use permit application for the park. A public hearing for the permit had been scheduled for the City Council’s June 26 meeting.

expanded park preview

A conceptual mock-up of the planned park, which was to have a layout in the shape of the “D” Dominion logo.

The company said this week its decision to forgo the park project and sell the real estate was a “question of capital allocation.”

“We’re redeploying this capital into customer-facing resiliency and clean energy infrastructure programs aimed at fulfilling our core mission of safely delivering reliable and affordable energy to millions of homes and businesses in the states we serve,” the company said.

Dominion did not say whether it plans to list the property itself or hire an outside brokerage.

The company said it’s too soon to say whether Dominion would be involved in any future development of the site. However, its possible involvement as a tenant of any future building on the property is unlikely. The company previously said it has ample office space between its remaining local hubs at 600 Canal, three office buildings at 120 Tredegar St. along the river and a sizable complex in Innsbrook.

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

According to the special-use permit application for the park, future use of the land is designated in the city’s Richmond 300 Master Plan as “Downtown Mixed-Use.”

The company has other real estate deals in play in the city. It’s under contract to sell its 20-story office tower at 705 E. Main St. to a local developer for an apartment conversion. It’s also in the process of selling its five-acre compound on Greyland Avenue in the Fan.

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Stephen Weisensale
Stephen Weisensale
11 months ago

If they are selling the property the city should immediately require the removal of the barricades that have blocked the surrounding streets and sidewalk for the last several years.

Michael Morgan-Dodson
Michael Morgan-Dodson
11 months ago

SO true and I believe (from images) the sidewalk is actually gone so they should be forced to clear and restore the public right of way space (sidewalk, tree wells, and street lights), and fill, grade (or secure) the site from run off along with removing the construction fence.

Victoria Woodhull
Victoria Woodhull
11 months ago

So they decided to get out of the commercial real estate business – probably a good idea in this high interest environment, and the stickiness of the WFH model. Oh, and serious question here – what does “customer facing resiliency” mean???

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
11 months ago

Good for you for calling out silly Corporate ESG phrasiology! Yes, cut the stupid loses — it was smart not to build another office tower, so that I guess saves money, but hiring a bunch of people to design this BS park was a waste and a bigger waste would’ve been to build a bunch of solar where there is little sunlight and wind turbines where there is little wind. The land is likely worth a lot — and it would be nice if an apt tower was built, but that is not D’s responsibility — that is to get… Read more »

Victoria Woodhull
Victoria Woodhull
11 months ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

lol!

Frank Smith
Frank Smith
11 months ago

Not really a park at all, just a place to charge your EV with trees and shrubs.

Mike Stevens
Mike Stevens
11 months ago

Leadership may be worried about the past six month stock drop. What essentially is a vanity project may not be the highest and best use of capital right now until the stock recovers.

Jerel C Wilmore
Jerel C Wilmore
11 months ago
Reply to  Mike Stevens

You nailed it. That property is just too valuable to basically leave idle.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
11 months ago

And pay taxes on.

Victoria Woodhull
Victoria Woodhull
11 months ago
Reply to  Mike Stevens

Could the stock drop be because many of the off shore wind farms are being investigated due to “save the whales”? https://time.com/6254785/whale-deaths-offshore-wind-power/

Casey Flores
Casey Flores
11 months ago

We want a 35+ story, 500+ foot mixed-use residential obelisk with an open-year-round rooftop restaurant/bar

Casey Flores
Casey Flores
11 months ago
Reply to  Casey Flores

Designed by Bjarke Ingels

Ramone Antonio
Ramone Antonio
11 months ago
Reply to  Casey Flores

Casey Flores speaks for the People! It’s the perfect spot for a signature high rise

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
11 months ago
Reply to  Ramone Antonio

I agree that we need a marque high rise building of SOME kind in Richmond — our downtown looks like a glorified suburban office park….

William Willis
William Willis
11 months ago

I just hope whoever buys and builds on this builds something with some height on it and finally break the 30 story mark in RVA.

David Humphrey
David Humphrey
11 months ago

I am surprised some people did not suggest to use this for a public parking deck for the amphitheater. Maybe it’s too far away.

Pera Keo
Pera Keo
11 months ago
Reply to  David Humphrey

There’s already plenty of parking decks all around this parcel.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
11 months ago
Reply to  Pera Keo

This is sort of an in-joke; he doesn’t mean it.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
11 months ago
Reply to  David Humphrey

Okay, this is getting a little less funny — still funny, but phase it out or you will seem obsessed.

Tom Gates
Tom Gates
11 months ago

Dominion will be Duke or Southern Power in 5 years. Just like the Banks.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
11 months ago
Reply to  Tom Gates

Thanks to all the political hate they have gotten in the last 10 years — and selling some of their best assets to Warren Buffett at the WORST possible time, just to build expensive wind turbines far offshore that they will have to raise prices to consumers to get their money back from.

Victoria Woodhull
Victoria Woodhull
11 months ago
Reply to  Tom Gates

I hope not. Personally, Dominion has been pretty reliable for my needs. I hear the State is taking advantage of some Federal grants to develop Small Nuclear power – which I believe is the future to sustain our power grid. This would be cheaper, reliable, and less of a landmass footprint for the future.