The Intermediate Terminal building apparently isn’t in such bad shape after all, according to a structural assessment the city commissioned last month.

The Richmond Economic Development Authority on Thursday presented findings of a structural engineering report it received last week that indicates the building at 3101 E. Main St. appears to be in better condition than initially thought.

The 100-year-old building had been slated to be converted into a bistro by Stone Brewing Co. as part of the 2014 deal with the city that brought the San Diego-based brewery to Richmond.

The 100-year-old building had been slated to be converted into a bistro by Stone Brewing Co. (BizSense file photo)

Those plans got derailed in 2018, when Stone and city officials said the building was structurally insufficient to be converted into a bistro. The two parties had sought City Council’s permission to demolish the building, but halted those efforts later that year.

The report, from local engineering firm Dunbar Milby Williams Pittman & Vaughan, states that the floors of the building appear to be “more than capable of supporting gravity loads for a number of possible future uses, including a restaurant,” and that it should be structurally adequate to resist the effects of a 100-year flood event. The EDA, which owns the building, hired the firm in January to determine what type of commercial operation it could handle.

A recent engineering report concluded the footings of the building are in better shape than originally thought.

The firm said its biggest concern for a future use of the building relates to the soil below the structure’s footings. Froehling & Robertson, another area engineering firm, also reported that reinforcing steel is present in at least some of the footings.

“That was a change from what we’d known before about the building,” EDA Chairman John Molster said regarding the footings.

“I think the range of uses for the building are quite wide, quite good and much better than what we thought,” Molster said.

Leonard Sledge, the city’s economic development director, said his department will be passing the report on to Stone.

“They’re the ones who are tasked with moving forward with the Terminal building. In terms of the findings … there are a number of options to make the building usable with some improvements,” Sledge said.

Stone has been mum about its revised plans for a Richmond bistro, for which it was set to receive $8 million in bonds fronted by the city. But Dominic Engels, Stone’s CEO, said last fall they’re still in the design process and are committed to bringing the concept to Richmond.

In attendance at Thursday’s EDA meeting was Jerry Cable, owner of The Tobacco Co. Restaurant and several other Shockoe Slip properties. In 2018, Cable offered the city $1.5 million to purchase the Intermediate Terminal building, but was rejected, according to a Times-Dispatch report.

Correction: Stone Brewing has yet to receive the $8 million in bond funding for the bistro. An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that it had. The city, in its agreement with Stone, has offered to front the bonds to fund the bistro’s construction.

Mike Platania joined BizSense in December 2016. He covers commercial real estate, restaurants and breweries. He graduated from Virginia Tech. Reach him at [email protected] or (804) 554-6872.

Sure seems Stone was trying to weasel out of their commitment and concocted a questionable story about the building being unsuitable. Hoping demolition would be approved before anyone could get a second opinion. What a terrible partner they have been.

I find it interesting that this all came up back in 2018 and the study was only commissioned last month. Who has been sitting on this for over a year?

I just hope that Stone builds their Bristo and Beer Gardens and the city follows through with the sugar pad park alongside it. This building Renovated or a teardown and rebuild does not matter to me in this instance with no historical value and Richmond has done a great job restoring so many historic and old buildings every once in a while an old build must go in order to make way for something newer, better and safer.

The story JUST SAID the current building is viable for the suggested use. Other than tax credits, why would you WANT to tear it down? Just because a building is “newer” does not mean it is “better and safer.” Also, how can a 100 year old building have no historical significance? This must be pretty frustrating to Hardywood. (And other brewers in the city) Look at what Hardywood is doing in the city and Goochland with much less spent on tax dollars to prop them up. Its not like city residents are going to get happy hour prices from Stone,… Read more »

I wonder if the most recent study considers removing the exterior masonry walls and replacing them with glass , which is what Stone–and any other restaurant–would need to do in order to open the views to the river and skyline. Once you remove the masonry walls and replace them with glass, the foundations would need to be reinforced to counteract shearing. The air conditioning requirements for a huge glass building that faces west and south would require mechanical systems that are much larger than those required for a non-glass building. Those mechanicals would need to be placed on the roof… Read more »

Haven’t had a Stone beer since they wimped on the deal. If they honor their commitment I might reconsider. Cheers in advance

It’s both historic and ugly. I can’t blame Stone for wanting to weasel out of it, especially if there’s not a practical way to add windows. My biggest problem was that their new construction would have been significantly smaller.

I wish there was a way where everyone would win, like Stone could demolish and rebuild on the same footprint and overall design with the road running under it, but with glass replacing the brick within the structural grid. That way it would have a connection to the original building but with fewer engineering challenges.

The city–at the request of some neighbors–commissioned a study of the historical significance. The study concluded that the building is not historically significant. The design was for glass to replace the walls. Glass does not carry load, either vertical (weight) or horizontal (wind). So replacing the masonry with glass would require all the other stuff. The elimination of the road underneath was determined by the 2012 Downriver Masterplan, which predated Stone by at least two years. So that would have happened anyways as part of the Dock Street improvements. It’s too bad that demolition was not allowed in order to… Read more »

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