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GRTC narrows search for permanent transfer hub

Officials cut the ribbon
Shaban Athuman
VPM News
Tyrone Nelson, member of the Henrico County Board of Supervisors and Chairperson of the GRTC Board of Directors, left, holds a ribbon as Adrienne Torres, Chief of Staff at GRTC, cuts it along Mayor Levar Stoney as Jennifer DeBruhl, director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, and Sheryl Adams, CEO of GRTC, look on during the official opening of the GRTC downtown transfer station on Monday, September 11, 2023 in Richmond, Virginia.

After 15 years of searching, the transit company has five potential spots in mind.

The list of potential sites for a permanent downtown transit hub has been whittled down to five.

“We started from a much larger list of sites in the downtown area. And we eliminated some of those because there's already development happening,” said Stan Wall at a public meeting Thursday. Wall is the lead consultant on the downtown transfer study with HR&A Advisors.

Wall said that’s how they filtered the list down.

“Those sites are essentially large enough to accommodate the transit function in terms of enough bus bays to serve the transit facility,” said Wall.

Out of the five possible transfer hubs, two should be familiar to riders.

That’s because one is the current temporary spot along East Leigh between North Eighth and Ninth streets, while the other is the former temporary station and city-owned public safety building across the street at 501 N. 10th St.

“I think having the temporary one, and the investment in that and how great it looks and functionality of it, I think really shows the need,” Adrienne Torres, chief of staff for Greater Richmond Transit Company.

The other potential locations include a city-owned parking lot at 609 E. Grace St; a parking lot at 401 E. Cary St and a spot owned by Dominion Energy on 701 E. Cary St., which was their former headquarters until they moved and had thebuilding imploded.

Once a site is selected, the goal is to build a mixed-use development built above the station using both private and federal funds.

“I would say it's very transformative,” said Wall. “It’s a way to kind of improve upon the transit experience, and make sure we're increasing mobility in downtown Richmond. But doing so in a way that also supports economic development, creating affordable housing, retail opportunities [and] builds upon the values the city's trying to advance.”

Having a mixed-use development is something that excites rider Melvin Journiette.

“It should be a destination in itself – whether it’s an office space, housing, commercial. It shouldn't just be what they have now, just a … open lot.”

Rider Brian Parrish likes the idea of having restaurants or a coffee shop, but there’s one thing that he thinks is really needed because the current transfer station doesn’t have one.

“Public restrooms for both drivers and customers,” he said.

Another public meeting is scheduled for March and a final recommendation for a permanent transfer station should come sometime in April.

Ian M. Stewart is the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.