Chris Wood, Contributing Writer
Gov. Ralph Northam is looking to move VCU a step closer to purchasing an Alcoholic Beverage Control warehouse in Scott’s Addition.
The site, which is less than a half-mile from The Diamond, would be home to baseball games for VCU and Richmond’s minor league team, the Flying Squirrels. The two parties joined the city government to reach a nonbinding agreement to build and share a ballpark in 2016, with the goal of it being close to the Diamond, where both baseball teams currently play. The Flying Squirrels agreed to stay in Richmond for at least 30 years as part of that deal.
Last year, the Virginia General Assembly gave ABC permission to negotiate a deal with H&H Co., an out-of-state company, to build a new headquarters at Riverstone Properties in Mechanicsville. This move put ABC’s 2901 Hermitage Rd. warehouse on the market, and VCU has since been looking to purchase the space.
The clause in Northam’s budget would expire in 2020, which would give ABC and VCU a tight deadline to agree on a price for the site. ABC is looking to relocate by 2021.
“The Virginia ABC Authority doesn’t expect to move into its new facility until the first three months of 2021, more than six months after the current two-year budget expires,” said ABC CEO Travis Hill. “We can’t do anything to put the authority in a situation where it doesn’t have somewhere to go and someone has a claim on the property.”
Hill also stated that ABC was not involved in drafting the proposed budget language.
“There are a lot of details to address, but this step is an important first one as we address our overall facilities needs,” said Pamela Lepley, VCU Vice President of Public Relations. The facility is planned to include other athletic facilities other than baseball.
To purchase the facility, both VCU and ABC would hire a qualified real estate appraiser to give a value on the site. After the two appraisals were calculated on the site’s worth, ABC would be required to offer the property to VCU “at a value which shall be determined by averaging the values of the two appraisals,” the governor’s budget states.