A Richmond restaurateur’s offer to buy the Intermediate Terminal Building to stave off its potential demolition at the request of Stone Brewing Co. was batted down Wednesday by Richmond economic development officials.
Jerry Cable, owner of The Tobacco Company, had offered the city’s Economic Development Authority $1.5 million for the riverfront property at 3101 E. Main St. near Rocketts Landing, according to a letter provided to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“I’m very concerned the city is giving the building away and trying to tear it down,” Cable said in an interview.
Authority Chairman John Molster said the agency had declined Cable’s offer Wednesday and would continue with plans to demolish the building.
“The offer was woefully short on details, but even if it had them, we’ve already got a really good deal for the city,” Molster said.
California-based Stone Brewing has rights to the property through a 25-year lease with the EDA. The property was key to a 2014 economic development deal then-Mayor Dwight C. Jones’ administration struck with the brewery to bring it to Richmond.
Under the terms, the city agreed to give Stone $23 million in general obligation bonds to build a brewery and $8 million to finance the construction of the bistro, which Stone must pay back through its lease with the EDA. At the time, Stone agreed to renovate the Intermediate Terminal Building into a 700-seat restaurant.
Earlier this year, the brewery backtracked on its plans to renovate the building, saying that the structure was unsound and that turning it into a restaurant space would be too costly. Instead, Stone proposed razing the warehouse and building a 12,000-square-foot building on the site to house the bistro.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney has supported the change of plans. In March, his administration sought approval from the City Council to clear the way for the demolition. Council Vice President Cynthia Newbille, who represents the area, lobbied the council to allow the demolition.
The council has not taken action on the brewery’s request since its introduction.
It has appeared on the agenda for the past five months as “awaiting amendment.” The Stoney administration has not introduced any additional amendments to the agreement to date.
Cable said he first approached the city administration about buying the building in June, but received no response. The building and the 1.52 acres it sits on are assessed at $1.93 million, city property records show.
Jane Ferrara, deputy director of the city’s department of economic development, said in an email she had received the offer and passed it on to the EDA, which owns the building.
The city transferred ownership of the land to the EDA to facilitate its lease to Stone.
“The city does not intend to respond to Mr. Cable’s offer other than to inform him that it does not own the property,” Ferrara said.
In the Sept. 25 letter, sent to Ferrara and members of the City Council, Cable suggested selling the property to him could save the city $10 million.
He said he arrived at the figure by adding the $8.75 million set aside in the city’s capital budget for Stone’s slated bistro with the sum he is offering.
“Instead of the city developing and funding breweries with taxpayer funding, my purchase essentially place $10 million back into the city coffers for the development of schools, roads and funding of other more important projects for the citizens of Richmond,” Cable wrote in the letter.
Cable said he was interested in renovating the 30,000-square-foot building into a hotel or condominiums with “other partners that want to go in on it with me” who Cable said are “strong operators.” He declined to name them.
Cable rejected the assertion by Stone, the EDA and the Stoney administration that the Intermediate Terminal Building is structurally unsound. He said he did not have a sense of how much it would cost to execute his plans.
“This building can be saved.”