Jan 24, 2023 - News

More changes for Capitol Square

Renderings show plans for the new home of the Supreme Court of Virginia as seen from Capitol Square (left) and Main Street. Photos courtesy Department of General Services

State officials are planning their next big moves as construction wraps up on the new General Assembly Building.

What’s happening: Design work is underway for a new Supreme Court of Virginia building on Main Street.

  • Meanwhile, the much-maligned James Monroe Building is still being eyed for demolition. But officials are wavering on whether to construct a new office tower on Main Street to replace it.

Why it matters: Capitol Square is the center of downtown Richmond, but its fate largely rests in the hands of state lawmakers and the administration of whatever governor happens to have been most recently elected.

  • It’s always interesting to get a window into what they’re thinking.

Details: Here are where things stand, per a recent meeting between Senate lawmakers and Department of General Services director Joe Damico…

✅ Opening soon

  • The new General Assembly Building should be done by the end of May. The $225 million project, which began six years ago, was supposed to be ready in time for this year’s legislative session.
  • A renovation of Old City Hall and construction of a big new parking deck on Broad Street are both nearly complete and expected to open this spring.

⚖️ New courts building

Plans are coming together for a new home on Main Street for both the Supreme Court of Virginia and the Virginia Court of Appeals.

  • The structure would replace the Pocahontas Building, demolishing and rebuilding the more modern east wing while renovating and incorporating the west wing.
  • If lawmakers include money in the budget for the plan (no price tag has been made public yet), demolition would begin in the spring of 2024, and the building would open in 2028, per Damico.
  • The fate of the old courts building is TBD.

💣 The wrecking ball

Everyone still wants to demolish the Monroe tower, which officials have concluded would cost more to renovate and maintain and a member of Gov. Youngkin’s administration called a blight on the skyline.

  • But officials say they’re holding off on a final decision until next year.

👀 What we’re watching

Plans to demolish the old Virginia Employment Commission building at Seventh and Main streets are moving forward.

  • For now, the only thing that will replace it is green space, Damico said.
  • There had been talk of a new office tower for the site, but Youngkin’s administration says it’s now weighing whether it would be more cost effective to lease privately owned office space, citing high vacancies and dropping rents post-pandemic.

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