Sports Backers moving HQ to Lakeside building at Fall Line trailhead

BankOfAmerica1 scaled

The Bank of America branch at 4921 Lakeside Ave. has been closed since the COVID pandemic began. (BizSense file photos)

It turns out more is in store for a vacant Lakeside bank building that’s lined up to serve as a trailhead for the future Fall Line Trail.

At a groundbreaking ceremony for the start of Henrico County’s portion of the 43-mile trail from Ashland to Petersburg, Sports Backers announced it will move its headquarters to the former Bank of America branch at 4921 Lakeside Ave., which the county bought over the summer with the trailhead in mind.

The nonprofit group, which puts on athletic events like the Monument Avenue 10k and Richmond Marathon, will be moving from its similar-sized home at Sports Backers Stadium. The stadium, a multiuse facility next to The Diamond, is set to give way to the massive Diamond District redevelopment project.

Diamond District aerial 1

Sports Backers Stadium, next to The Diamond, makes up part of the 67-acre Diamond District redevelopment site.

In light of those plans, Executive Director Jon Lugbill said Sports Backers started looking for locations and identified the branch building as a contender when it came up for sale after the bank vacated it last year. He said Sports Backers ended up not placing an offer on the property but resumed discussions with Henrico after the county bought it for $1 million in June.

Jon Lugbill

Jon Lugbill

“We were thrilled that they were going to get it, there’s going to be a trailhead,” Lugbill said. “But then they approached us and said, ‘Would you be interested in moving your office there?’ because they had heard some of our plans for how we’d activate the space and the ways that we were going to be promoting the trail.”

As the nonprofit lead on the Fall Line Trail project, working with other stakeholders including Henrico County, Lugbill said of the trailside site: “I think it’s our future. It’s the most transformative (trail project) that our region is ever going to see, so to have our office be on the trail was just a great opportunity.”

Lugbill said a 20-year lease with options is being finalized for Sports Backers to renew every five years thereafter. Sports Backers also has kicked off a capital campaign to raise funds for renovations to the 6,000-square-foot building, projected to cost $1 million.

Park St

Sports Backers’ Bike Walk RVA program coordinated a hike along the Fall Line Trail’s future alignment, including next to the bank property, in 2021. (Photo courtesy Henrico County)

The renovations would accommodate a group fitness studio and meeting space in addition to offices, on top of trailhead-specific upgrades the county is already planning, such as more-accessible bathrooms and drinking fountains. The 1-acre property, which straddles the Henrico-Richmond line, also provides 46 parking spaces.

“A million dollars is a lot for 6,000 square feet, and the building’s in really good shape, but it was a former bank branch building,” Lugbill said. “There’s bulletproof glass in there and stuff like that that needs to come out.”

Architect Todd Dykshorn of local firm ADO is designing the renovations, which Sports Backers expects to start early next year and be complete by the end of 2024. Lugbill said a general contractor has not been selected.

Meanwhile, Henrico is getting going on the first stretch of its portion of Fall Line, a $266 million multijurisdictional project that’s been years in the making.

A quarter-mile segment from Bryan Park to Spring Park is starting construction, with Rockville-based Blakemore Construction awarded a $700,000 contract to include 1,400 feet of 12-foot-wide, asphalt-paved trail and a push-button signalized crossing on Lakeside Avenue.

FallLineTrail Henrico

A map of Henrico County’s segment of the Fall Line Trail. (County documents)

The segment is planned to be completed in February as the first of eight phases that will make up Henrico’s portion of the trail. The county is aiming to complete its 7.5-mile portion from Bryan Park to the Chickahominy River within four to five years, at an estimated cost of $52.6 million that will be financed with county and Central Virginia Transportation Authority funds and state and federal grants.

In addition to the trail, the building is on the route of Sports Backers’ Moonlight Ride, an evening bicycle event that it moved to Bryan Park before putting it on hiatus this year. Lugbill said that the group hopes to bring the event back and that the Lakeside home base could help with that and with other events and programs.

“We think that location is great for events,” Lugbill said. “Once the trail’s built, having cycling events there will be awesome. We also think there’s all sorts of events and activities that can be smaller scale that we’ll be able to do because our office is there, so it makes it more affordable.

“We’ll be able to have free fitness classes and trainings of our volunteers. There’s just so many ways we’re going to activate that space,” he said.

BankOfAmerica1 scaled

The Bank of America branch at 4921 Lakeside Ave. has been closed since the COVID pandemic began. (BizSense file photos)

It turns out more is in store for a vacant Lakeside bank building that’s lined up to serve as a trailhead for the future Fall Line Trail.

At a groundbreaking ceremony for the start of Henrico County’s portion of the 43-mile trail from Ashland to Petersburg, Sports Backers announced it will move its headquarters to the former Bank of America branch at 4921 Lakeside Ave., which the county bought over the summer with the trailhead in mind.

The nonprofit group, which puts on athletic events like the Monument Avenue 10k and Richmond Marathon, will be moving from its similar-sized home at Sports Backers Stadium. The stadium, a multiuse facility next to The Diamond, is set to give way to the massive Diamond District redevelopment project.

Diamond District aerial 1

Sports Backers Stadium, next to The Diamond, makes up part of the 67-acre Diamond District redevelopment site.

In light of those plans, Executive Director Jon Lugbill said Sports Backers started looking for locations and identified the branch building as a contender when it came up for sale after the bank vacated it last year. He said Sports Backers ended up not placing an offer on the property but resumed discussions with Henrico after the county bought it for $1 million in June.

Jon Lugbill

Jon Lugbill

“We were thrilled that they were going to get it, there’s going to be a trailhead,” Lugbill said. “But then they approached us and said, ‘Would you be interested in moving your office there?’ because they had heard some of our plans for how we’d activate the space and the ways that we were going to be promoting the trail.”

As the nonprofit lead on the Fall Line Trail project, working with other stakeholders including Henrico County, Lugbill said of the trailside site: “I think it’s our future. It’s the most transformative (trail project) that our region is ever going to see, so to have our office be on the trail was just a great opportunity.”

Lugbill said a 20-year lease with options is being finalized for Sports Backers to renew every five years thereafter. Sports Backers also has kicked off a capital campaign to raise funds for renovations to the 6,000-square-foot building, projected to cost $1 million.

Park St

Sports Backers’ Bike Walk RVA program coordinated a hike along the Fall Line Trail’s future alignment, including next to the bank property, in 2021. (Photo courtesy Henrico County)

The renovations would accommodate a group fitness studio and meeting space in addition to offices, on top of trailhead-specific upgrades the county is already planning, such as more-accessible bathrooms and drinking fountains. The 1-acre property, which straddles the Henrico-Richmond line, also provides 46 parking spaces.

“A million dollars is a lot for 6,000 square feet, and the building’s in really good shape, but it was a former bank branch building,” Lugbill said. “There’s bulletproof glass in there and stuff like that that needs to come out.”

Architect Todd Dykshorn of local firm ADO is designing the renovations, which Sports Backers expects to start early next year and be complete by the end of 2024. Lugbill said a general contractor has not been selected.

Meanwhile, Henrico is getting going on the first stretch of its portion of Fall Line, a $266 million multijurisdictional project that’s been years in the making.

A quarter-mile segment from Bryan Park to Spring Park is starting construction, with Rockville-based Blakemore Construction awarded a $700,000 contract to include 1,400 feet of 12-foot-wide, asphalt-paved trail and a push-button signalized crossing on Lakeside Avenue.

FallLineTrail Henrico

A map of Henrico County’s segment of the Fall Line Trail. (County documents)

The segment is planned to be completed in February as the first of eight phases that will make up Henrico’s portion of the trail. The county is aiming to complete its 7.5-mile portion from Bryan Park to the Chickahominy River within four to five years, at an estimated cost of $52.6 million that will be financed with county and Central Virginia Transportation Authority funds and state and federal grants.

In addition to the trail, the building is on the route of Sports Backers’ Moonlight Ride, an evening bicycle event that it moved to Bryan Park before putting it on hiatus this year. Lugbill said that the group hopes to bring the event back and that the Lakeside home base could help with that and with other events and programs.

“We think that location is great for events,” Lugbill said. “Once the trail’s built, having cycling events there will be awesome. We also think there’s all sorts of events and activities that can be smaller scale that we’ll be able to do because our office is there, so it makes it more affordable.

“We’ll be able to have free fitness classes and trainings of our volunteers. There’s just so many ways we’re going to activate that space,” he said.

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Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
8 months ago

The Fall Line Trail is an amazing step forward in recreation for the region. For all that Fairfax did wrong in land planning, it developed a truly inter-connective bicycle/ walking trail system from community to community along its creeks as linear parks. It was all set forth by the Old Dominion Trail which took over the rail line right of way from the Potomac River near Alexandria through Falls Church, Vienna, Herndon, and Leesburg to Purcellville, roughly the same length as this trail from Ashland to Petersburg. That main trail eventually was crossed by asphalt trails multiple times as it… Read more »

Michael Morgan-Dodson
Michael Morgan-Dodson
8 months ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

Is it a seperate trail???? What do the colors in the segments means?? When it runs down Brook north Hillard where is it running??? On the existing sidewalk or the will it be a protected bike lane in the street?? I support the trail idea but why does this seem to NOT be anything like the Capitol Trail (protected and separated pathway) and more like a the current VDOT state bike routes in say Chesterfield??

Justin Reynolds
Justin Reynolds
8 months ago

Michael, prior articles have said the fall line trail will be separate from the road and wider from the capital trail. I think I read 12’ wide. The reason it seems different is because this trail is being built in developed areas whereas the Capital trail is mostly rural.

Scott Burger
Scott Burger
8 months ago

I suspect PTB (Powers That Be) in the City of Richmond, having ignored citizens for decades on the East Coast Greenway, will use future greenway development as an excuse for ridiculous amounts of corporate welfare and the wasteful ‘bridge park’ idea. All for greenway, but the corporate control of our City sucks. Note that the ECG signs are gone from Belle Island now.

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
8 months ago
Reply to  Scott Burger

The proposed use of Manchester Bridge for a park was ridiculous. That’s now going to the right of way for the north-south extension of The Pulse. The bridge park idea should move to the Mayo Island bridge which is in the flood plain crossing the future city park on the island. That bridge sits in the floodplain and should never be rebuilt there. Make it a park!