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East End News

Do you agree with Style Magazine’s take on the Terminal Warehouse?

Is any structure that is elderly give it irreplaceable value?

From Style Weekly:

Why is this building worth saving?

The terminal’s brutal appearance suggests little of its romantic past. It was constructed in 1937 during the Great Depression, probably as a New Deal infrastructure stimulus project. Raw sugar from Cuba initially was stored here until the ingredient found its way into local tobacco products. In 1939, 1.5 million tons of sugar passed through the warehouse, some of which was transferred to rail for shipment to Hershey, Pennsylvania, for candy bars.

In addition to linking Richmond with Havana harbor and Pennsylvania chocolate makers, the terminal building itself is like none other. It is the rare structure locally that is built into a hillside. And the fact that a city street once ran under the building testifies to how densely built-up this now picturesque area once was. While other warehouses in the immediate vicinity that housed sugar are now lost, the so-called “sugar pad” remains: It’s an expanse of concrete set between Terminal No. 3 and the river that is populated sporadically by local fishermen.

Today, Terminal No. 3 is a welcome architectural landmark along the 52-mile Capital Trail, a world-class amenity, delighting cyclists, runners and pedestrians, as well as those in passing vehicles. And while the building is concrete-tough, its open bays three sides of the ground level are slightly arched, adding subliminal gracefulness to the building.

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Reaction from social media

Reddit (/rva) is having a healthy debate on the platform: Everything is Historic, Nothing Should Change

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For more on this story check out: Is the Richmond Terminal Warehouse to be demolished?

Sound off at the meeting tonight! 7th District Meeting with Councilwoman Newbille

*Featured photo taken by Scott Elmquist

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21 comments

BAF 04/12/2018 at 7:09 AM

Not every building was intended to last as long as the pyramids. There is nothing so special about that building that its demolition would be an issue. If it’s not worth the money to rehab and is contributing to blight, then it needs to be abated. Nothing lasts forever and no one who built this particular utilitarian box expected it to. Our attachment fo any structure that has some age without regard to MEANINGFUL historic value (age alone doesn’t make something historically valuable, simply old) needs to end.

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Nick 04/12/2018 at 7:24 AM

I feel like none of this matters if the building is unsafe. That, iirc, was the finding of the Stone folks.

It might be historic, but it isn’t historic or pretty enough to sit around empty because it’s too expensive to safely use.

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Damn Teenager 04/12/2018 at 8:20 AM

“a world-class amenity”? Are we that desperate to justify architectural or historical significance? While it has some visual intrigue, it’s a freakin’ warehouse. What Grandfather will take little Timmy down to the river and say, “that brewery right there, that used to have a building that held sugar for chocolate bars…”? [single tear rolls down cheek]

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Chris Houlihan
Chris Houlihan 04/12/2018 at 8:26 AM

While it’s wonderful (if idealistic) to want to save and reuse an existing building, it’s not always practical.
The Style article is a knee jerk reaction that I can sympathize with. Many older buildings of significant historical value have been lost in Richmond over the last couple centuries, some to neglect, some to redevelopment, some to fire; in any case they’re now lost to the ages.
When I look at pictures of Richmond from the late 1800s and early 1900s, I always feel a pang of regret for the lost architecture and infrastructure of Old Richmond. The result is that whenever I hear about the potential of losing a building or feature that has been part of the cityscape for as long as I’ve been in Richmond, I instinctively want to try and save it. However the sensible part of me knows that this isn’t always what’s going to be best for the city. Terminal No. 3 is a perfect example of this internal conflict. It’s an older building, somewhat unique, but with little to no historic value. Ultimately I’d rather see the site be used for something that will add tangible value to the city, than see the Terminal crumble with time. Ideally, a new structure might salvage some of the building materials from the existing structure, and maybe be styled in a way that gives a nod to the existing Terminal building. In the end however, it sounds like it would be best for the existing structure to go.

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Steven Summerville
Steven Summerville 04/12/2018 at 8:34 AM

Yes

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Lee 04/12/2018 at 8:36 AM

I’m not a fan of the architectural style of the building – I doubt many folks would describe it as “pretty” – but there is something weirdly evocative about it’s siting. I would hope if the city/Stone tears it down they rebuild a similar structure (or at least similarly situated) structure there.

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Brandon 04/12/2018 at 8:48 AM

While I would love to see the existing building used. I’d rather the city and stone demolish it to create a new iconic building for this area since the terminal building has been demeed to costly to renovate properly.

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Boz 04/12/2018 at 8:58 AM

Well Nick wouldn’t that have been for Stone to discover while they were negotiating with the City, and wrote into their contract that it would be converted to a restaurant? I don’t understand the “just kidding!” aspect of this deal. Do your due diligence during negotiations and fulfill your contract seems to be the basis of how most businesses operate.

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Charles Ditsler 04/12/2018 at 9:05 AM

The building is not architecturally significant, certainly not attractive, but iconic in its presence. I cannot believe there is a structural solution that’s available to provide an economic solution to result in a reasonable reuse of the building and most importantly the quirky location. It could be a cool architecturel resolution. Get creative.

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Jenny Griffin
Jenny Griffin 04/12/2018 at 9:09 AM

The “sugar pad” was demolished a year ago. It is a grassy area now. Only the building remains. Clearly the author did not visit the site.

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Neighbs 04/12/2018 at 9:23 AM

I’m with Nick, it doesn’t really matter if it is historic or not if it is not salvageable. Some of Richmond’s charm is definitely due to the history here, but when people think of Richmond history I don’t think the first thing that comes to mind is our historic sugar warehouses. It’s gets frustrating when we impede modernization and improvement to the city’s infrastructure for a building like this.

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ray 04/12/2018 at 9:38 AM

#1 BAF reflects my sentiments about saving old structures.

But lets look to another issue, Stone’s agreed upon deal with the City just 3 years ago to make this a “bistro” encompassing 30,000 square feet, the size of the warehouse.

And now they are talking about tearing it down and instead building a 12000 square foot facility?

So, beyond the discussions as to why the City is helping fund a restaurant for a large, out of state corporation that will compete against all our locals breweries and restaurants, have our elected official been hoodwinked once again like they were with the Redskins?

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MJR 04/12/2018 at 9:56 AM

The video that circulated a few weeks ago with the Stone CEO walking around this building and bellyaching was so disingenuous. The term ‘crisis actor’ is used too much in the media today. But when I watched him that is exactly the response that triggered in me.

I’m pretty sure he’s a manipulative greedy human being. I would have a very hard time siding with him on this issue. If he won’t honor his agreement maybe the city needs to start looking for legal ways to withdraw from having anything to do with his “restaurant”.

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TDun 04/12/2018 at 10:52 AM

Addressing Boz’s point re: due diligence during the contract stage… Conducting a comprehensive engineering assessment of this building is extremely expensive — well into multiple 6-figures. It would be very unusual (and bad business) during the contract negotiations stage for any party to a contract to spend that kind of money. They likely did a preliminary assessment which, at the time, indicated that the building could be renovated and they ensured that the contract gave them leeway to demolish the building if a more comprehensive study found otherwise. That’s a reasonable approach. We should apply rational, cost-benefit analysis to our decisions. The building is not worth saving.

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Resident 04/12/2018 at 11:01 AM

Slightly racist social media response. Dosnt help

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Jessica Jones
Jessica Jones 04/12/2018 at 11:01 PM

I thought Stone was supposed to be using this building for a restaurant or something like that.

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ilya 04/13/2018 at 12:14 PM

It looks really cool and I love passing by it when riding on the Cap trail. I will miss it but I suppose a beer garden would be better.

Not every empty building has to be demolished or remodeled. They can be allowed to stand as monuments and decoration. I love that other abandoned building a little past Rockett’s Landing along the trail. Or how about that power station on the canal just east of Brown’s Island Tasteful ruins can be a communal space and a tourist draw. Maybe we can turn the Fulton Gas Works into a park, kind of like Seattle’s Gas Works Park.

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BAF 04/13/2018 at 5:15 PM

@18

Abandoned structures like these still require maintenance—you don’t want to be a car driving beneath it if no one is managing its structural integrity. I don’t want your decoration collapsing on people underneath. In addition these abandoned buildings are also magnets for vandalism, vermin and illegal activity. If it is not going to be used, it needs to be abated. Realistically, if the other structures you mention are going to not be restored, they should be removed too. I believe I read that the problem with abating the gas works is an issue of cost related to handling of hazardous materials on site. But the gas works property could be used in so many more beneficial ways—from parkland to housing.

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Elaine Odell 04/15/2018 at 9:28 AM

Early/mid 20th century industrial buildings, including this one, have an important place in our history and economic evolution as a city. It is worth renovation and adaptive reuse.

Stone has already received a huge (undeserved) handout from Richmond. Since that first handout went down so easily, it should not surprise anyone that they continue to ask for more.

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Liz 04/16/2018 at 5:04 AM

What racist social media response?

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