Stone Brewing Co. plans to open a restaurant and beer garden on the James River at Richmond Intermediate Terminal, but the proposal isn’t quite ready to tap.
Richmond officials confirmed Thursday that the California-based company has chosen the long-dormant former city property for the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, planned as the second phase of the brewer’s East Coast production hub, one to two years after completion of the brewery.
But the private developers who control the vacant warehouse and land next to the city dock say they haven’t reached an agreement with Stone or Richmond to establish the restaurant and beer garden there.
“There’s no specific deal on the table,” said George T. Ross, managing partner of R3 Development, which plans to build the Richmond on the James office complex on the nearby Tarmac property and partner with the family of restaurateur Richard Ripp in developing the Intermediate Terminal building.
“We’re looking forward to working with the company and the city,” Ross said Thursday. “Until we have a specific deal in place, we can’t comment.”
However, Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones already is relishing the prospect of people sipping Stone beers while overlooking the riverfront next to the soon-to-be-completed Virginia Capital Trail.
“When the Stone World Bistro & Gardens is added in a few years, we’ll all be able to enjoy the riverfront from a new vantage point because everybody loves the water,” Jones said at Thursday’s announcement that Stone will build a brewery on city property in the adjacent Fulton neighborhood.
“This kind of stuff makes neighborhoods vigorous and desirable,” the mayor said in an interview later.
The Intermediate Terminal site has been caught before in a tug of war between public and private interests.
Then-Mayor L. Douglas Wilder sought to build a public marina there in 2008, but the Ripp family asserted its controlling option to buy the property under a legal settlement with the city in 2004.
The Ripp family has been involved in the Richmond restaurant business for decades, from a chain of local Arby’s franchises to Can-Can Brasserie in Carytown, two Burger Bach locations, and, formerly, Havana 59 in Shockoe Bottom. A family corporation won the controlling option on the Intermediate Terminal property in a settlement of a lawsuit against Richmond, which had tried to condemn the lease the family had secured on the property in 1981.
The Ripps exercised the option in 2009 for $725,000 on three parcels — Warehouse 3, which bestrides Water Street; adjacent land between the warehouse and city-owned dock; and another property on East Main Street, according to Ross.
Jane Ferrara, deputy director and chief operating officer of the Richmond Department of Economic and Community Development, confirmed Thursday that the city is talking to the Ripps about developing the terminal property for the Stone restaurant and beer garden, using tax abatement for rehabilitating the former warehouse.
The Jones administration estimates the cost of developing the restaurant and beer garden at $8 million.
The property sits between Rocketts Landing and Lehigh Cement Co., which Ferrara said would be demolished in the first quarter of next year as the city works to complete its portion of the 52-mile capital trail between Richmond and Jamestown in time for the UCI Road World Championships next September.
The city bought the 1.5-acre Lehigh property in 2012 but leased it back to the company for two years.
Richmond plans to extend the Capital Trail through its portion of the Intermediate Terminal property and the Lehigh property. Ross’ company would build it through its Richmond on the James project, formerly known as Echo Harbor.