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New State Office Building at 8th and Broad St


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4 hours ago, rjp212 said:

I know I am in the minority, but good riddance to Monroe Tower. I’ve always thought it was a scar on the city skyline, regardless of its height. It makes the city look like it’s stuck in the 70s/80s. 

Personally, I hate the style of the Monroe Tower, but I still see potential.  Keep in mind that City Hall was not an attractive building at one time either, but they did a great job reinvigorating it.  With some metal siding and perhaps some architectural details, I could see the tower being brought into a new light.  The podium area can be reworked, especially since it has the structural support included for a second tower.  While the floor plates may be terribly inefficient for office space, they provide a great layout for potential residential (3 units per side).  The location is ideal for access to Main Street Station, so keeping heavy parking infrastructure could free up other lots in Shockoe for better uses.

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4 hours ago, Virginian11 said:

Height is height  - and we need more or it, not less 

AMEN!!  The way things are going, it's not looking like we're going to see any 450-500-foot-tall towers built in RVA any time soon. Harkens back to the conversation/debate we were engaged in on the other thread about Charlotte, Raleigh other cities building 40, 50, 60 story towers. while we seem content with 15-story buildings.  

I've been dreaming of the day RVA will build TALLER than the Monroe Tower - NOT bring the Monroe Tower down and shrink the skyline.

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9 hours ago, I miss RVA said:

AMEN!!  The way things are going, it's not looking like we're going to see any 450-500-foot-tall towers built in RVA any time soon. Harkens back to the conversation/debate we were engaged in on the other thread about Charlotte, Raleigh other cities building 40, 50, 60 story towers. while we seem content with 15-story buildings.  

I've been dreaming of the day RVA will build TALLER than the Monroe Tower - NOT bring the Monroe Tower down and shrink the skyline.

NIMBY city council in Raleigh tried that by restricting 20+ story towers to only one very small street. They were voted out the next election now there's several 30+ towers planned all over downtown and North Hills district plus the new Downtown South district. See the new 30 story Raleigh Union Station Bus Station tower project. 

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3 hours ago, carolina1792 said:

NIMBY city council in Raleigh tried that by restricting 20+ story towers to only one very small street. They were voted out the next election now there's several 30+ towers planned all over downtown and North Hills district plus the new Downtown South district. See the new 30 story Raleigh Union Station Bus Station tower project. 

Here the problem isn't so much the city council - it's the neighborhood associations and preservationist groups. Generally speaking, all of downtown is zoned for 20+ story towers. So zoning or opposition or whatever to getting 30+ 40+ 50+ isn't the problem. The problem is that developers simply aren't building them here like they are in Raleigh. I realize economics play the biggest role in all of this - but is the Raleigh market really THAT far ahead of RVA's that developers are happy to build the bigger buildings (and, as you noted, several projects are lined up) - whereas here - seems like everything these days gets capped at 20 stories. 

Jesus - buildings constructed in the 1970s downtown were taller than almost all of what's being built now - the Dominion Tower being the lone exception. I seem to remember that the Centennial Plaza that was supposed to have been built where the 6-story apartment building is now standing on E. Main between 5th & 6th (or was it 6th & 7th? I can't remember) - there was some talk of it being up to as much as 40 stories tall (although 22 seemed to be what was actually going to be built) - of course, a big national economic downturn kiboshed that project if I recall correctly. 

Wow - I can clearly remember being SO optimistic back in the late 70s/early 80s that given what had already been built, it was only natural to expect that even taller buildings were coming to downtown. Today's Bank of America became the city's tallest in (I think) 1974/75. Then the Federal Reserve Building in '78. Then the Monroe Tower in '81, The Sun Trust building wasn't going to top the Monroe Building, but it would be among the city's tallest. The original plan for the James Center included a signature 40-story building on Cary Street (never got built, obviously). The 3 James Center building (12th street next to the Omni Hotel) was designed to be "expandable" and there were plans to take that up to about 25-35 stories or more - and maybe push the envelope of it being among the tallest in the city. That never happened.

Today? And forget Covid - this was happening before the pandemic. I realize the pandemic has exacerbated things - but there just was no push by ANYONE save Dominion to build anything of any significant height downtown.

But again, council opposition to taller buildings isn't the problem. They just aren't getting built here these days. And it makes no sense to me.

I don't understand what's happened. Especially with the city booming in terms of construction, population growth, job growth, etc.

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Yeah its weird phenomenon with Virginia cities, except NoVa only because D.C. cant  build but so high. I'm thinking taxation plays a large role, independent cities are limited in how much they can do.  I wouldn't be surprised to see the counties surrounded Richmond to build taller, like Va Beach did in HR. They have the growth and the excesses in taxes base, I'm sure Virginia sees the issues this set up present, I also think that's why specific cities are able to get casinos. Those cities were all stunted not being able to annex, maybe Richmond and Henrico can buck that in the future. 

I wonder if there is a way to change things to have Virginia localities worked more inclusively. Every city is pitted vs another city or county, we need a new approach.  Like sheesh how the hell do people living with 45 miles of each other consider themselves apart.  These laws mostly went into place in the 70s, maybe its time the state reviews it. 

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2 hours ago, I miss RVA said:

Here the problem isn't so much the city council - it's the neighborhood associations and preservationist groups. Generally speaking, all of downtown is zoned for 20+ story towers. So zoning or opposition or whatever to getting 30+ 40+ 50+ isn't the problem. The problem is that developers simply aren't building them here like they are in Raleigh. I realize economics play the biggest role in all of this - but is the Raleigh market really THAT far ahead of RVA's that developers are happy to build the bigger buildings (and, as you noted, several projects are lined up) - whereas here - seems like everything these days gets capped at 20 stories. 

Jesus - buildings constructed in the 1970s downtown were taller than almost all of what's being built now - the Dominion Tower being the lone exception. I seem to remember that the Centennial Plaza that was supposed to have been built where the 6-story apartment building is now standing on E. Main between 5th & 6th (or was it 6th & 7th? I can't remember) - there was some talk of it being up to as much as 40 stories tall (although 22 seemed to be what was actually going to be built) - of course, a big national economic downturn kiboshed that project if I recall correctly. 

Wow - I can clearly remember being SO optimistic back in the late 70s/early 80s that given what had already been built, it was only natural to expect that even taller buildings were coming to downtown. Today's Bank of America became the city's tallest in (I think) 1974/75. Then the Federal Reserve Building in '78. Then the Monroe Tower in '81, The Sun Trust building wasn't going to top the Monroe Building, but it would be among the city's tallest. The original plan for the James Center included a signature 40-story building on Cary Street (never got built, obviously). The 3 James Center building (12th street next to the Omni Hotel) was designed to be "expandable" and there were plans to take that up to about 25-35 stories or more - and maybe push the envelope of it being among the tallest in the city. That never happened.

Today? And forget Covid - this was happening before the pandemic. I realize the pandemic has exacerbated things - but there just was no push by ANYONE save Dominion to build anything of any significant height downtown.

But again, council opposition to taller buildings isn't the problem. They just aren't getting built here these days. And it makes no sense to me.

I don't understand what's happened. Especially with the city booming in terms of construction, population growth, job growth, etc.

Even in NYC and similar places all the new tall buildings are residential. Even pre-covid businesses are not going in to expensive tall downtown buildings anymore. Look at Innsbrook, West Creek, etc.  Why pay that cost when most of their employees live in the suburbs anyway? Luckily Richmond being a capital and home of a federal reserve bank there are some businesses that will have to be downtown, but what we have in that arena is maxed out, there's no more demand. Richmond has been seeing a big time residential boom, but there's a lot of land to fill up before the cost of building a tall downtown tower becomes worth it.  On top of that there's no real draw for residents to be downtown, better to be on the river in SA, etc.

Edited by 123fakestreet
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I step away for the weekend and look what happens.  Keep in mind I did not fully read every response.  The way I read and understand it is the employees in Monroe Tower will move to a new tower on 7th and Main.  Then Monroe Tower would be sold as surplus property after the current State employees vacate; opinion value of $28,000,000.  The "Begin Demolition 2022" on the slide next to the pic of Monroe Tower is referring to the site of the new tower on 7th and Main NOT the Monroe Tower.

CORRECT?  If so, then I know Hooked On Phonics is working.    

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1 hour ago, Shakman said:

I step away for the weekend and look what happens.  Keep in mind I did not fully read every response.  The way I read and understand it is the employees in Monroe Tower will move to a new tower on 7th and Main.  Then Monroe Tower would be sold as surplus property after the current State employees vacate; opinion value of $28,000,000.  The "Begin Demolition 2022" on the slide next to the pic of Monroe Tower is referring to the site of the new tower on 7th and Main NOT the Monroe Tower.

CORRECT?  If so, then I know Hooked On Phonics is working.    

Hmm, it is all under the same header so perhaps by replace they mean relocate to the new tower at 7th.  Perhaps Supreme Court building is reused as well with new building on site of Pocahontas.  The 1923 tower still seems to be at risk, but I cannot see where that footprint would help a new building so perhaps it may remain as well.

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4 hours ago, Shakman said:

I step away for the weekend and look what happens.  Keep in mind I did not fully read every response.  The way I read and understand it is the employees in Monroe Tower will move to a new tower on 7th and Main.  Then Monroe Tower would be sold as surplus property after the current State employees vacate; opinion value of $28,000,000.  The "Begin Demolition 2022" on the slide next to the pic of Monroe Tower is referring to the site of the new tower on 7th and Main NOT the Monroe Tower.

CORRECT?  If so, then I know Hooked On Phonics is working.    

I hope you're right!

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This "plan" is homicide on the urban core. Absolutely horrendous, they want to core the center of Richmond the way you'd core the center of an apple. Removing the good buildings that contribute to the architectural urban fabric like the SC and then chopping off the tallest building is the equivalent of shooting the chest and then sawing off an arm. In this economy we're not going to get replacements of that scale to undo the damage of losing Monroe.

Hideous. This feels worse than Navy Hill. Because at least that never actually existed. 

Edited by RVA-Is-The-Best
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2 hours ago, blopp1234 said:

I think y’all are exaggerating how important having a tall skyline is too a city. Yes, tall buildings are cool to look at and help the city in a proverbial pissing contest with cities like Raleigh and Charlotte, but buildings like the Monroe building do less for downtown street level activity than a 4 story hotel. When you have a parking garage take up the first 3 floors of the building, how many people are gonna walk to that building? I know I wouldn’t. The people who work in this building likely are suburbanites that provide little to no contribution to the downtown area other than using office space there. While I’m opposed to completely losing the SCB and the older part of the Pocahontas building, those buildings actually provide something to the area. The Monroe building has no street prescience and looks like something straight out of a suburban Houston office park. That lot is underutilized and could be redeveloped to actually contribute to the streetscape and provide foot traffic and businesses for the area. And honestly, I disagree wholeheartedly that you need a ton of 30+ story buildings to be a successful city. There are plenty of examples in Europe as well as multiple in the US of cities that have very few, if more than one building above 30 stories that are very successful cities. In Europe, most cities don’t have any buildings over 400 feet. Look at Amsterdam, I’d take a dense, walkable downtown like Amsterdam that is comprised of buildings no taller than 10 stories over a downtown core that has a few 50 story towers any day of the week, as height isn’t the only thing that matters in the success of a downtown and the overall perception of a city by outsiders. What matters is walkability and a buildings ability to add to the urban environment, and I’d argue that the Monroe tower and buildings like it detract from downtowns urban feel. While it’s not bad to have 30+ story buildings downtown, we should prioritize a buildings ability to engage the street and provide pedestrian activity throughout the day, as that encourages more businesses to open downtown than a suburban style office tower ever will, no matter how tall it is. 

One key thing European cities also do is adaptive reuse rather than constantly tearing down structures and building new.  Regardless, we are not Europe and we do not have a millennia of building stock to work around.  Towers, while not being as necessary as some imply, are still part of our urban cultural identities.  While some tourist-focused cities such as Savannah and Charleston can pull off a lack of height, I cannot think of any successful and economically diverse large city in the U.S. (or other major former British colonies) without some identifiable skyline.  I certainly agree that we do not need a focus on particularly tall skyscrapers or some magic floor count (we currently have no 30+ with Monroe the tallest at 29).  We can certainly do a better job of integrating tall and dense than we have in the past (Monroe, the former One James River Plaza, and the Federal Reserve are prime examples of what not to do), with Australian and Canadian cities being great models of this, and I believe we are on that path.

The location of Monroe Tower is trapped between the Eastern wall of Capitol Grounds, I-95, the non-street orientated MCV campus, and a collection of State parking decks.  It is never going to be a great pedestrian experience without a major anchor and significant changes to how the State manages that stretch of 14th Street.   The parking structure is unlikely to be significant to the structural support of the tower itself and could be gutted and replaced without losing the tower itself.  Even without removing the deck, there is some nice space to  to wrap at the corner of 14th and Franklin.  Hopefully, the property is in fact going to be sold as surplus and reinvigorated.

And while it is anecdotal, I do have a few friends who live in downtown and work in Monroe Tower. The new office tower will actually shorten their walks to work.  Regardless, cities are not just a place to live so there is nothing wrong with the idea of having businesses here that pull in workers from the surrounding metro.  Without these businesses, and especially some of these non-tax-generating entities, we would not be in the place that we are now.  The rest of the populace and businesses would have no reason to be here allowing for the aspects of the city we do love. 

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2 hours ago, blopp1234 said:

I think y’all are exaggerating how important having a tall skyline is too a city. Yes, tall buildings are cool to look at and help the city in a proverbial pissing contest with cities like Raleigh and Charlotte, but buildings like the Monroe building do less for downtown street level activity than a 4 story hotel. When you have a parking garage take up the first 3 floors of the building, how many people are gonna walk to that building? I know I wouldn’t. The people who work in this building likely are suburbanites that provide little to no contribution to the downtown area other than using office space there. While I’m opposed to completely losing the SCB and the older part of the Pocahontas building, those buildings actually provide something to the area. The Monroe building has no street prescience and looks like something straight out of a suburban Houston office park. That lot is underutilized and could be redeveloped to actually contribute to the streetscape and provide foot traffic and businesses for the area. And honestly, I disagree wholeheartedly that you need a ton of 30+ story buildings to be a successful city. There are plenty of examples in Europe as well as multiple in the US of cities that have very few, if more than one building above 30 stories that are very successful cities. In Europe, most cities don’t have any buildings over 400 feet. Look at Amsterdam, I’d take a dense, walkable downtown like Amsterdam that is comprised of buildings no taller than 10 stories over a downtown core that has a few 50 story towers any day of the week, as height isn’t the only thing that matters in the success of a downtown and the overall perception of a city by outsiders. What matters is walkability and a buildings ability to add to the urban environment, and I’d argue that the Monroe tower and buildings like it detract from downtowns urban feel. While it’s not bad to have 30+ story buildings downtown, we should prioritize a buildings ability to engage the street and provide pedestrian activity throughout the day, as that encourages more businesses to open downtown than a suburban style office tower ever will, no matter how tall it is. 

 

Agreed. It's become an unofficial symbol of "we made it." I personally don't care how people from other cities look at us. There's a reason we don't have a big sports team here and I personally couldn't care less for it. I want RVA to be special, not another Raleigh or whatever other city we keep comparing ourselves to. I want density but I want it done right as well. I want to be able to walk through parts of the city and not feel like a ghost town. You ever been downtown near the capitol after 5:30pm weekdays or afternoon weekends? It's dead out there. 

Yes, I know taller buildings mean technically more condos/apartments/living spaces therefore more density but I don't want that to be our only priority. Shops, activity, and life on the street level is really important. 

This is similar to how I don't want a starbucks or chipotle store at the bottom of these buildings either. I'd love a unique shop or restaurant that is locally owned. One that doesn't feel the same as it is in the west end or any other city like a chipotle. People love NYC not because it has tall buildings (yes, they are nice to look at). They love NYC because of the life on the streets, events, and local activities that you can't get anywhere else in the world. You have China town, little Italy, theaters, parks, hot dog salesmen, etc. That's unique. RVA is unique and shouldn't try to conform to some "medium city must haves" to mirror other medium city sized cities. 

Edited by ancientcarpenter
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3 hours ago, eandslee said:

I must be a rare one - I actually like NY for its tall towers.  I am awe-struck when I’m there and able to look at the architecture and marvel at the engineering it must have taken to build such structures.  With that said, I like the street-level activities as well, but what draws me there are the tall buildings. 

You and I both.

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I am starting to doubt the results of Hooked on Phonics :P

Quote

With RFP responses in hand, the state government is moving ahead with plans for a half-billion dollars’ worth of construction for two new buildings — one of which could lead to the sale or demolition of the tallest office tower in the city.

 

I am really not understanding how demolishing a century old tower with a small footprint is somehow going to be better or more cost efficient than adding another floor or two to what is likely going to be a short building in the first place.
 

Quote

Whereas the initial plans for a 213,000-square-foot building for the state’s Supreme Court and Court of Appeals would only affect the Pocahontas Building’s east tower, Damico said they’re now taking a look at the west tower as well.

“Our initial thinking was we’re just going to deal with the east tower and build there, but now that we have to give consideration to these additional staff at the Court of Appeals, we’re going to have our design team look at the (entire) Pocahontas site,” Damico said.

https://richmondbizsense.com/2021/08/23/state-owned-monroe-supreme-court-buildings-would-be-replaced-with-new-ones/

 

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30 minutes ago, Icetera said:

I am starting to doubt the results of Hooked on Phonics :P

 

I am really not understanding how demolishing a century old tower with a small footprint is somehow going to be better or more cost efficient than adding another floor or two to what is likely going to be a short building in the first place.
 

https://richmondbizsense.com/2021/08/23/state-owned-monroe-supreme-court-buildings-would-be-replaced-with-new-ones/

 

Well if the state want a profit, might as well sell it.  A developer can rehab and reclad the structure for whatever they see it.

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2 hours ago, Shakman said:

If James Monroe is to be replaced, I look forward to seeing multiple towers.  At least one being taller than the existing structure.  If nothing taller gets built, hopefully a developer can re-clad and convert James Monroe into mixed use which includes residential and perhaps a rooftop restaurant.  The views from the upper floors would be spectacular.  Definitely include a crown.

Results of Hooked on Phonics still pending.  ;)

I would LOVE to see the Monroe Tower converted to residential or mixed use - and a rooftop restaurant would be fantastic! Imagine the eating in a restaurant 450 feet above the city. And I love the idea of a crown - it would add to the height of the tower. If the building is re-clad, I wonder it it would be architecturally doable to put a pointed top with a spire that would count toward the building's overall height? Something like the tops of two of Philadelphia's iconic downtown towers.

800px-One_liberty_place.jpg

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1 hour ago, I miss RVA said:

I would LOVE to see the Monroe Tower converted to residential or mixed use - and a rooftop restaurant would be fantastic! Imagine the eating in a restaurant 450 feet above the city. And I love the idea of a crown - it would add to the height of the tower. If the building is re-clad, I wonder it it would be architecturally doable to put a pointed top with a spire that would count toward the building's overall height? Something like the tops of two of Philadelphia's iconic downtown towers.

800px-One_liberty_place.jpg

 Don't forget, there's a there's supposed to be  2 Monroe buildings on the parking deck, If a developer buys that building in that space, they could build another skyscraper in space across from each other (if the foundation is still strong after +30 years).

Edited by DalWill
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17 hours ago, I miss RVA said:

I would LOVE to see the Monroe Tower converted to residential or mixed use - and a rooftop restaurant would be fantastic! Imagine the eating in a restaurant 450 feet above the city. And I love the idea of a crown - it would add to the height of the tower. If the building is re-clad, I wonder it it would be architecturally doable to put a pointed top with a spire that would count toward the building's overall height? Something like the tops of two of Philadelphia's iconic downtown towers.

800px-One_liberty_place.jpg

Two Liberty Place, the tower in the background, had a number of it's top floors converted to condos.  

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31 minutes ago, DowntownCoruscant said:

Monroe Building has one thing going for it: height. I have no idea why anyone would want to (a) buy it and (b) spend the money on a conversion, but I’m not in that business.

Maybe it will be repurposed as the world’s tallest storage facility, which at least would give us a World’s Tallest.

I think it has a decent core design aesthetically, it just has an awful choice of brown on concrete.  Even the podium at least adds density rather than a no-man's land like One James River Plaza or the Fed.  With some cladding, window replacements, and a full warp of the Southern deck I can see a lot of potential.  The Northern end has the foundation ready so build on that and demolish the garage around it.  Perhaps add a pedestrian bridge direct to the slavery museum and cleanup the existing bridge over 14th for a nice walk between MSS and the Capitol.  This makes me want to breakout Sketchup.

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