Apr 16, 2024 - News

Richmond might relocate social services to RTD building

The front of the Richmond Times-Dispatch building which has six pillars and a sign that says "Richmond Times-Dispatch" in front of it

The Richmond Times-Dispatch building. Photo: Sabrina Moreno/Axios

Richmond has plans to move its Department of Social Services into the Richmond Times-Dispatch building, according to a 93-page ordinance outlining the lease agreement.

Why it matters: This would change where residents seek help with child protective services, refugee support, food stamp applications and Medicaid assistance.

The big picture: The city's goal is to consolidate the department's two locations, Southside Plaza and Marshall Plaza, into 113,000 square feet of office space on 300 E. Franklin St.

  • This means taking over 325 parking spaces plus the second and third floors and parts of the first.
  • The newspaper's staff is on the fourth floor.

The latest: A City Council committee moved the plan forward on Tuesday after multiple endorsements from social services workers, leaving it up to a council vote next Monday.

  • The proposed 15-year lease — with potential to renew an additional 10 years — is with 300 Franklin LLC, affiliated with Shamin Hotels, which bought the RTD building in January 2020.

The intrigue: There will be nearly $4 million in landlord renovations. A construction timeline hasn't been set, but Shamin would vacate its offices on the second floor by Oct. 1.

Zoom in: The proposal allows for Marshall Plaza, which is across from the John Marshall Courts Building, to be demolished and rebuilt into a new courthouse.

  • Richmond put off $10 million in maintenance and repairs to Marshall Plaza due to the planned combination of the two locations, per the ordinance.

By the numbers: Rent is almost $4.3 million per year — $317,293 a month — with an annual 3% increase.

  • The 325 parking spaces alone are nearly $41,000 per month.
  • The state's Department of Social Services will reimburse 84% of that through a contractual agreement, leaving the city on the hook for $687,203.

Between the lines: Southside Plaza, whose lease expires next March, is home to the department's Office of Immigrant and Refugee Engagement and next to Southwood, the city's largest Latino neighborhood.

  • Richmond will maintain three to four staff there to keep a closer access point for people in Southside, said Shunda Giles, director of social services, in the Tuesday meeting.
  • The relocation would have increased a Southwood resident's travel time from a 10-minute bus ride to more than 40 minutes.

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