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Richmond Approves Sale of Downtown Public Safety Building

A rendering of the proposed redevelopment project on the Public Safety Building property
A rendering of the proposed redevelopment project on the Public Safety Building property. (Courtesy of Capital City Partners)

Richmond City Council voted Monday to sell the defunct Public Safety Building on Leigh Street for roughly $3.5 million.

Developer Capital City Partners, LLC will take over ownership of the property. Capital City Partners was the development group behind the failed $1.5 billion Navy Hill/Coliseum project, which included the sale of the Public Safety Building. Monday’s council action allows the developer and the city to salvage what was considered a relatively non-controversial piece of the Navy Hill deal.

Mayor Levar Stoney’s administration negotiated the deal. Stoney has called the sale “a win for Richmond” and said it’s part of a larger strategy to repurpose vacant or underutilized land in Downtown.

“Redeveloping the old Public Safety Building will generate much-needed tax revenue for affordable housing, schools and our neighborhoods while creating opportunities for minority businesses,” Stoney said in a statement.

Stoney also celebrated the deal as a “long overdue improvement to the city’s healthcare infrastructure.” 

Capital City Partners plans to spend $325 million to redevelop the property into a mixed-use development anchored by administrative offices for VCU Health. The Public Safety Building property sits at the corner of 10th and Leigh streets, directly across from the VCU Health campus. 

The site will also house facilities for The Doorways and Ronald McDonald House Charities, including more than 200 guest rooms provided to long-term patients and their caregivers. The developers are also promising a pharmacy and retail space, as well as a child care center. 

Stacy Brinkley, president of The Doorways, said the non-profit is currently located in an old hotel at the corner of E Marshall and Belvidere streets. More than half of their guests typically stay for over a month.

“The new building will allow us to house families in extended-stay suites, which is really better for them and helps them recover faster,” she said.

Brinkley said The Doorways is also usually at capacity, meaning there is a larger need than they are able to meet in their current building.

In total, the project is expected to create more than 545,000 sq. ft. in new leasable space and 1,900 parking spaces.

The project will allow the city of Richmond to add another property to its tax rolls and offload a decrepit city-owned property. According to city officials, the Public Safety Building, built in 1954, has more than $20 million in deferred maintenance needs. Because the property is owned by the city, it currently generates no property taxes. The project is estimated to generate about $56 million in new tax revenue over the next 25 years. 

Capital City Partner’s will also be responsible for demolishing the building and reconnecting East Clay Street.

VCU’s Center for Urban and Regional Analysis found the project is likely to create around 3,700 jobs, including one-time construction work. 

While there was very little opposition to the deal from Richmond City Council, Council Member Stephanie Lynch said she did meet with the Stoney administration and developers to ensure that labor agreements included Richmond residents and good pay.

“It’s really just making sure that all of the contractors and subcontractors are committed to hiring Richmond residents at a prevailing wage, really for any city contract,” Lynch said.

Monday’s City Council vote was the final hurdle for the sale. Capital City Partners is expected to start filing permit applications within eight months, with construction completed within four years.