Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission plans to move to the former Media General Inc. headquarters building in downtown Richmond.
Meanwhile, Media General’s nearly 400 pieces of artwork — with an original value of $700,000 — are being sold through an online auction.
The commission’s employees would move into the 125,000-square-foot building at 333 E. Franklin St. from its current 47,444-square-foot headquarters at 1000 DMV Drive and leased space elsewhere in the Richmond area, including the Bookbindery Building on West Broad Street.
The state agency plans to lease the space from Hourigan Development, a division of Richmond-based real estate investment and construction management firm Hourigan Group, which has the four-story building under contract to buy. The company expects to close on the purchase in June.
The lease would be for 10 years, said Dena Potter, spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of General Services, the state agency that oversees government facilities. Other details of the lease were not available.
“Worker’s Comp plans to lease the facility from Hourigan once the company closes on the property and completes tenant improvements, which we anticipate will be complete by December,” Potter said.
“Please keep in mind this is contingent upon the sale being finalized and that more details will be available once that has happened,” she said. “We looked for several years to find a new location for them.”
It’s not known whether the Workers’ Compensation Commission will become the sole tenant in the Class A office building, which has a four-story atrium rotunda. It was built in 1998.
Mark Hourigan, CEO of the Hourigan Group, declined comment on how many possible tenants the building might have. He said in late March that he expected Nexstar Media Group, which acquired Media General in January, and Stefanini, an information technology outsourcing firm that has been subleasing space there since 2013, to continue to be tenants in the near term.
But real estate sources say the state will ultimately lease the entire Media General building and have the Workers’ Compensation Commission occupy the bulk of it.
The commission has a total of 292 employees statewide. The agency’s spokesman did not know how many employees work at the Richmond offices.
The independent state agency oversees the workers’ compensation system for employees, employers and insurers.
Hourigan Development did not disclose a purchase price for the building, which was assessed for $10.7 million, according to city property tax records.
Media General, the communications company that once owned newspapers and television stations across the country, was acquired by Texas-based Nexstar in a stock and cash deal valued at $4.6 billion. Media General had owned the Richmond Times-Dispatch and sold it and other newspapers to a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway in 2012.
The art collection in the building was acquired by Media General over the past two decades.
“The vast majority of the artists are local, with a lot of them from Virginia and ... for the most part from the Southeast region of the U.S.,” said Tim Gates, owner of Gates Estates, the Chesterfield County-based company that is handling the sale of Media General’s art collection with Henrico County-based Cannon’s Auctions.
The collection of 368 pieces is pretty comprehensive, Gates said, including oils, watercolors, acrylics, sculptures, ceramics, mixed media pieces, prints and textiles. The oldest piece dates to 1942.
“The vast majority of it is contemporary in nature,” Gates said.
Some of the better-known artists include Nell Blaine, Joseph E. Burrough III, Nancy Witt, Amy Archinal, Cindy Neuschwander, Theresa Pollak and Robert Levin.
“Some of these artists, like Theresa Pollak and Robert Levin, are internationally known artists,” he said. “Cindy Neuschwander sadly passed away. She was an internationally recognized artist, and we have about a dozen of her pieces.”
The art collection will be available for preview from 4 to 9 p.m. May 11 at the Media General building.
Online bids start closing at 10 a.m. May 15. The auction closes in lot number sequence at the rate of four lots per minute, auto extending for four minutes if bids are received within the last four minutes.
Winning items must be picked up between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. May 16.
The full catalog of items can be viewed at www.cannonsauctions.com.