Stone Brewing seeking to demolish Intermediate Terminal Building to clear way for construction of new bistro
By MARK ROBINSON Richmond Times-Dispatch
Stone Brewing is seeking permission from Richmond to demolish the Intermediate Terminal Building, breaking with the company’s original plans to renovate the former warehouse space for its bistro and beer garden overlooking the James River.

The deal the city struck with the brewery in 2015 outlined that Stone would renovate the 30,000-square-foot structure, which is nearly a century old. The city acquired the Fulton property at 3101 E. Main St. in a land swap and agreed to lease it to Stone for a 700-seat bistro as a part of a package of economic development incentives the city offered to lure the California-based brewery.

“After extensive analysis and design, the parties have determined that the existing structure cannot be renovated as originally contemplated,” according to the amendment request Mayor Levar Stoney’s administration introduced at the Richmond City Council meeting Monday.

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Tom Byrnes, a city spokesman, said Stoney’s administration learned of the brewery’s desire to demolish the building in early January and began drafting the changes to the agreement last month.

“With adaptive reuse no longer viable, Mayor Stoney wants to see this project move from the planning phases to the completing phase,” said Byrnes, who added that the administration would work with the brewery to see the project through.

The brewery and the city’s Economic Development Authority have estimated how much it would cost to demolish the building and erect a 12,000-square-foot structure to house the bistro, but the request to the council does not share the figure.

The request cites an engineering report prepared by Timmons Group that documents “structural deficiencies” that make the building unsuitable for renovation. It also notes that the cost of making the repairs and addressing “floodplain issues” would “render the redevelopment of the building economically and structurally infeasible.”

Salvaging the building would “push the project way over budget,” said John Molster, the EDA’s vice chairman. He did not specify the cost of rectifying the problems, which he said trace to the building’s foundation.

The new construction the brewery is proposing for the site is less than half the size of the existing warehouse.

“They didn’t ever really need it to be as enormous as the terminal building, but obviously they were very interested in being able to use that; that’s right up their alley,” Molster said. “They tried hard to figure out a way to do it.”

As recently as September, Stone CEO Dominic Engels said the company aimed to begin construction at the building and open its bistro by late 2018.

The bistro was initially envisioned as employing a staff of 200. That figure, as well as the number of seats in the space, are no longer set in stone, Engels said in an email.

“As for jobs and available seating, we have not yet recalibrated those numbers,” Engels said. “We, hand in hand with the city and the EDA, are doing everything we can to ultimately create something that Richmonders will be really proud of.”

Richmond struck the deal during then-Mayor Dwight C. Jones’ tenure. The city agreed to issue $23 million in bonds so the EDA could build a brewing plant in Fulton and lease it for 25 years. The facility opened in 2016.

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