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New State Office Building at 8th and Broad St


wrldcoupe4

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Fair enough, although I’ve never found the building inviting to pedestrian traffic, but won’t most of the cost go on the guts? From what I understand (again, just a layman), it’s both archaic and a monstrosity. If the Dominion building wasn’t worth renovating, I’m skeptical too many people will think Monroe is. But again, the height is very nice.

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2 hours ago, Icetera said:

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.

That would be a fantastic adaptive reuse of this building and the site overall. Plus tying it in to the Slavery Museum is something that should be explored. 

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1 hour ago, DowntownCoruscant said:

Fair enough, although I’ve never found the building inviting to pedestrian traffic, but won’t most of the cost go on the guts? From what I understand (again, just a layman), it’s both archaic and a monstrosity. If the Dominion building wasn’t worth renovating, I’m skeptical too many people will think Monroe is. But again, the height is very nice.

I do not think the situation with DE vs the State is similar as in DE wanted a new tower on land they own rather than just trying to unload the old.  While OJRP was no longer functional for office, given the option, I would bet a developer would gladly have converted that river/city view tower into mixed use.  A new developer with Monroe would not be interested in office space so a near full gutting to convert to residential would have been needed either way, especially plumbing (the biggest complaint so far).  If we can reuse 200 year old warehouses as luxury housing, then a 40 year old skyscraper should be a no-brainer.

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1 hour ago, DowntownCoruscant said:

Fair enough, although I’ve never found the building inviting to pedestrian traffic, but won’t most of the cost go on the guts? From what I understand (again, just a layman), it’s both archaic and a monstrosity. If the Dominion building wasn’t worth renovating, I’m skeptical too many people will think Monroe is. But again, the height is very nice.

I'll have to respectfully disagree with you on the worthiness of renovation relative to Dominion's handling of One James River Plaza. This is an apples & oranges comparison - the state is not ruling out offloading the building for (an estimated) $28M haul as surplus property.  Dominion had no such plans - they maintained (and continue to maintain) their desire to retain ownership of the property - and the James River Plaza building was demo'd in order to make way for the second half of the Dominion complex. Obviously, that's not happening now.  But Dominion had no interest in selling the building because they had plans for the property. The State, on the other hand, is moving clear to a different downtown location and is abandoning that site altogether. It makes perfect sense that the building should be sold  to developers who could do something positive with it.

A private developer with some deep pockets could come in and turn the tower into anything - mixed use, hotel, residential. Whether or not one likes/dislikes the architecture, the building is iconic and now fully two generations of Richmonders have not known the RVA skyline to NOT be anchored on the eastern side of downtown by the formerly tallest building in the Commonwealth. Fully redeveloped, re-clad even, this building can be a tremendous asset to downtown. I personally want the state to sell the tower to developers who will preserve, renovate and convert it into useful (preferably livable) downtown space. That was never going to be the case for the James River Plaza building.

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4 hours ago, Icetera said:

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.

 Break it out!  Let’s see your ideas…for fun, of course!

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On 8/15/2021 at 7:18 PM, 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.

I always imagined the part that was supposed to be the twin tower would eventually get a new modern tower on that side and to at least modernize the base of the building.

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On 8/16/2021 at 10:19 AM, Kevin Cheph Randall said:

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. 

I remember complaining about this in the 90s when I was learning how Virginia functions. The reason why Hampton Roads is a collection of cities with no counties is because the only way to work together was to merge towns with counties to create cities so that services could be shared instead of just letting counties and cities share services like literally every other state in the country. The other side of this is NoVa, which is several counties that happen to be full of unincorporated urban districts that function like cities without being identified as a city. It really makes no sense and I don't know why anyone hasn't run for Governor with this being their platform to get rid of this ideocracy so that counties and cities can have shared services.

On 8/16/2021 at 10:30 AM, 123fakestreet said:

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.

If you look at Brooklyn and Long Island City (Queens) they are seeing massive growths to their downtowns but almost every one of the new towers and several have been new tallest for each area have all been residential. When I used to work in Brooklyn, people from Brooklyn didn't like my joke that downtown Brooklyn was becoming a residential neighborhood for Lower Manhattan, but it is true. It's much less of a downtown today and much more of a residential highrise neighborhood. 

On 8/17/2021 at 5:39 AM, 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. 

Towers are nice but they don't have to be super tall to be good looking towers. With Richmond, a 400-500ft tower would easily stand out in the skyline. The target for Richmond would be a lot of 75-250ft buildings with a large amount of street level commercial with each building to help create pedestrian activity on the street level and in turn help create a more vibrant city. You are also right about tall towers, they tend to function more as suburban style office towers than they do as parts of the urban fabric of the city. This can be fixed by having the lower functions of the building focus outward to the sidewalks rather than inward, thus making it so people working in the tower has to come out onto the sidewalks to go to things that would normally be within an office tower.

On 8/17/2021 at 9:31 AM, 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. 

Here is something to think about because I understand where you are coming from, and I lived in NYC for a couple years and I too enjoy towers. I really loved seeing the construction of towers more than the completed towers because of my college architecture background. But here's the thing, when visiting NYC, how much of that time is spent going up into all the towers you are seeing compared to how much time is spent walking the sidewalks and into all the shops, cafes, bars, coffee shops, delis, and so on? The towers don't make NYC, the endless blocks of sidewalk activities, street level commercial, and easy walkability and transit are what makes NYC the city it is. 

If Richmond focused on 5-25 story buildings and required every building to have 70% street level commercial, Richmond could also have that same feeling that NYC has because there would be so much to walk to in the city. 

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13 hours ago, urbanlife said:

I remember complaining about this in the 90s when I was learning how Virginia functions. The reason why Hampton Roads is a collection of cities with no counties is because the only way to work together was to merge towns with counties to create cities so that services could be shared instead of just letting counties and cities share services like literally every other state in the country. The other side of this is NoVa, which is several counties that happen to be full of unincorporated urban districts that function like cities without being identified as a city. It really makes no sense and I don't know why anyone hasn't run for Governor with this being their platform to get rid of this ideocracy so that counties and cities can have shared services.

If you look at Brooklyn and Long Island City (Queens) they are seeing massive growths to their downtowns but almost every one of the new towers and several have been new tallest for each area have all been residential. When I used to work in Brooklyn, people from Brooklyn didn't like my joke that downtown Brooklyn was becoming a residential neighborhood for Lower Manhattan, but it is true. It's much less of a downtown today and much more of a residential highrise neighborhood. 

Towers are nice but they don't have to be super tall to be good looking towers. With Richmond, a 400-500ft tower would easily stand out in the skyline. The target for Richmond would be a lot of 75-250ft buildings with a large amount of street level commercial with each building to help create pedestrian activity on the street level and in turn help create a more vibrant city. You are also right about tall towers, they tend to function more as suburban style office towers than they do as parts of the urban fabric of the city. This can be fixed by having the lower functions of the building focus outward to the sidewalks rather than inward, thus making it so people working in the tower has to come out onto the sidewalks to go to things that would normally be within an office tower.

Here is something to think about because I understand where you are coming from, and I lived in NYC for a couple years and I too enjoy towers. I really loved seeing the construction of towers more than the completed towers because of my college architecture background. But here's the thing, when visiting NYC, how much of that time is spent going up into all the towers you are seeing compared to how much time is spent walking the sidewalks and into all the shops, cafes, bars, coffee shops, delis, and so on? The towers don't make NYC, the endless blocks of sidewalk activities, street level commercial, and easy walkability and transit are what makes NYC the city it is. 

If Richmond focused on 5-25 story buildings and required every building to have 70% street level commercial, Richmond could also have that same feeling that NYC has because there would be so much to walk to in the city. 

While you make some very valid points, with which some I agree, I must respectfully disagree that RVA's focus should be on 5-to-25 story, 75-to-250-foot tall buildings, especially downtown. WHY limit height? I agree about the walkability factor and creation of the urban street-level city scape being very desirable . I think we all agree with and want that for RVA. But a cohesive urban streetscape and height are not mutually exclusive. If you're referring to the South's penchant for building isolated tall towers surrounded by huge plazas or sitting all alone on a single city block that is capable of supporting 3 or 4 such buildings, then I agree - RVA over the years has bitten from that apple FAR too many times (the Federal Reserve Building and One James River Plaza were CLASSIC examples of this -- and tbh, even the new Dominion building, with it's 3 or 4 story low-rise structure taking up 2/3 of the city block upon which the tower stands is a modified version of this concept).

To your point that a 400-500 foot tall building would stand out on the RVA skyline - you're right - it would. We're not even getting THOSE heights anymore. So ANYTHING 500-feet tall would be a real bonus right now. But if a 400-500 footer would stand out nicely, a 700 or 800 foot tall building would stand out even better on the skyline! And it can certainly be built into the dense urban fabric we all want to see.

I 100% support a dense, urban streetscape that is infused with "big city" energy of people, retail, residences, traffic (both pedestrian and vehicular -- including rail), and I will argue that not only can this be achieved WITHOUT sacrificing height, it can be enhanced with the inclusion of GREATER height - because taller/bigger buildings can simply hold more people. There is absolutely NO reason whatsoever that a 700 or 800 foot tall (or taller) building constructed downtown can't be built within a dense urban streetscape. If the city's current 4:1 height restrictions are the problem, requiring various amounts of setbacks based on height relative to closeness to the street relative to the width of the street, then there's a very simple solution to that problem: do away with the insipid 4:1 height regs! I have absolutely NO idea why they are on the books in the first place. Downtown RVA is in NO way (at this time, and probably will not ever be in my lifetime at the rate things are going) in any danger of becoming a "concrete jungle" that turns the streets into "canyons" that get almost no sunlight. To suggest that it is or will be anytime in the next 20 to 30 years is utter foolishness (and for anyone who tries to promulgate that, I want whatever it is that they're smoking because they are out of their minds).

If cities like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, among others, can build TALL buildings in bunches, buildings that are densely packed into their downtowns (and not spread out like they are in, say, Houston or Charlotte), then why can't this be done in RVA? Would anyone limit Philly or Chicago to 250 feet or 25 stories? Then why limit RVA?

 

Edited by I miss RVA
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Market dynamics limit Richmond in this respect. If developers could build high rise buildings like you describe and achieve a desired return, they would. The metrics are different in major cities. 

Also no one has ever said “geez I wanted to build a 30 story building but the 4:1 ratio held me back.” Dominion’s new tower crossed the plane and the city didn’t even think twice about providing the required variance. 

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12 hours ago, I miss RVA said:

While you make some very valid points, with which some I agree, I must respectfully disagree that RVA's focus should be on 5-to-25 story, 75-to-250-foot tall buildings, especially downtown. WHY limit height? I agree about the walkability factor and creation of the urban street-level city scape being very desirable . I think we all agree with and want that for RVA. But a cohesive urban streetscape and height are not mutually exclusive. If you're referring to the South's penchant for building isolated tall towers surrounded by huge plazas or sitting all alone on a single city block that is capable of supporting 3 or 4 such buildings, then I agree - RVA over the years has bitten from that apple FAR too many times (the Federal Reserve Building and One James River Plaza were CLASSIC examples of this -- and tbh, even the new Dominion building, with it's 3 or 4 story low-rise structure taking up 2/3 of the city block upon which the tower stands is a modified version of this concept).

To your point that a 400-500 foot tall building would stand out on the RVA skyline - you're right - it would. We're not even getting THOSE heights anymore. So ANYTHING 500-feet tall would be a real bonus right now. But if a 400-500 footer would stand out nicely, a 700 or 800 foot tall building would stand out even better on the skyline! And it can certainly be built into the dense urban fabric we all want to see.

I 100% support a dense, urban streetscape that is infused with "big city" energy of people, retail, residences, traffic (both pedestrian and vehicular -- including rail), and I will argue that not only can this be achieved WITHOUT sacrificing height, it can be enhanced with the inclusion of GREATER height - because taller/bigger buildings can simply hold more people. There is absolutely NO reason whatsoever that a 700 or 800 foot tall (or taller) building constructed downtown can't be built within a dense urban streetscape. If the city's current 4:1 height restrictions are the problem, requiring various amounts of setbacks based on height relative to closeness to the street relative to the width of the street, then there's a very simple solution to that problem: do away with the insipid 4:1 height regs! I have absolutely NO idea why they are on the books in the first place. Downtown RVA is in NO way (at this time, and probably will not ever be in my lifetime at the rate things are going) in any danger of becoming a "concrete jungle" that turns the streets into "canyons" that get almost no sunlight. To suggest that it is or will be anytime in the next 20 to 30 years is utter foolishness (and for anyone who tries to promulgate that, I want whatever it is that they're smoking because they are out of their minds).

If cities like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, among others, can build TALL buildings in bunches, buildings that are densely packed into their downtowns (and not spread out like they are in, say, Houston or Charlotte), then why can't this be done in RVA? Would anyone limit Philly or Chicago to 250 feet or 25 stories? Then why limit RVA?

 

The problem with those 700ft+ towers is they tend to be isolated buildings. plus no one is going to build that tall just for icon points. Buildings like that have to pencil out and most buildings that pencil out are 5-25 stories.  My comment about 400-500ft buildings is just being realistic. Sure, someone could build much taller, but even a 400-500ft building would really stand out. Another thing I was pointing out is that the bulk of buildings being built aren't going to be the tallest buildings, so focusing on street activity is more important than building height. With focusing on the street activity, if that causes developers to want to build taller, then that's great and shouldn't be limited. 

So I am not saying that buildings should have a height limit of 250ft, I am just saying that's a good target size for most building. Look at a city like NYC, there are lots of buildings going up there, most of them are under 250ft. 

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Wasn’t there a comment here a year or two ago that discussed how cost compounds the taller you build, i.e., the cost of building a 700 foot building isn’t just 1.4 times the cost to build a 500 foot building? Maybe I’m misremembering. But it seems from a layman’s perspective like there’s probably a chicken-egg problem with wanting to go really big (say, 700 feet), and that is no one has any incentive to do it or finance it.

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10 hours ago, urbanlife said:

The problem with those 700ft+ towers is they tend to be isolated buildings. plus no one is going to build that tall just for icon points. Buildings like that have to pencil out and most buildings that pencil out are 5-25 stories.  My comment about 400-500ft buildings is just being realistic. Sure, someone could build much taller, but even a 400-500ft building would really stand out. Another thing I was pointing out is that the bulk of buildings being built aren't going to be the tallest buildings, so focusing on street activity is more important than building height. With focusing on the street activity, if that causes developers to want to build taller, then that's great and shouldn't be limited. 

So I am not saying that buildings should have a height limit of 250ft, I am just saying that's a good target size for most building. Look at a city like NYC, there are lots of buildings going up there, most of them are under 250ft. 

Again, I must respectfully disagree. The 700-foot-plus towers may be isolated in Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston ... but they're not isolated at all in NYC, Philly, Chicago. Trust me - I know. I have watched a plethora of 700-plus footers go up in downtown Chicago over the last 20 years - and these buildings are rising right next door to other skyscrapers. It doesn't have to be isolated - and that's my point. RVA developments went that way with the 400 and 500 footers. (OJRP, Fed Reserve, Monroe Tower, etc.) - I'm suggesting that there is NO reason that significantly taller structures cannot be integrated into the dense urban fabric and rise next door to existing structures. 

Focusing on street activity is important - but I would argue both street activity and height are equally important. It's HOW projects are conceived, designed, planned, and implemented. I'm not thrilled with what Dominion did with 600 Canal - I love the tower - but, because they own the land, they decided to put a flat 4-story annex running north from the tower to Cary Street. I would have MUCH preferred they consolidate the locations of their towers (if they were going to build two buildings) and build out BOTH buildings in that same block (6th, 7th, Canal, Cary).My whole argument is -- street activity/density and height are NOT mutually exclusive, nor should they be. Why not have both?

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Market dynamics limit Richmond

Thank you, Coupe!  That's the answer I was looking for. That's reasonable.

So then the question becomes - how does RVA change the market dynamics? We're not going to 'catch' a city like Charlotte with almost 900K population and 2.8M in the metro and the afterburners still blazing. But if cities like Raleigh, Nashville, etc., have stronger market dynamics that support bigger building projects, what needs to take place to lift RVA into that same level as some of these other cities? I'm asking earnestly - I'm curious to know what needs to change here.

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2 hours ago, wrldcoupe4 said:

Look at their market rents for existing vs new buildings, construction costs, population growth, and job growth (as well as job growth sectors). The answer is there.

Thanks, Coupe. A follow-up: those are the metrics, and I'm sure with some investigation, we can cull out the differences. But how do we get there? If the answer is for RVA's economic metrics to be much more in line with other cities' particularly in these categories, what needs to happen, what can be done (how much of it can be 'controlled' if that's even possible) to get RVA on par in these other categories? Can the city -- with concerted efforts by the right people/organizations, etc. undertaken and concentrated in the right places going for the right things and done the right way -- dramatically change its economic "status" to move into the higher-level category of cities more attractive for developers of bigger projects, or will RVA (city and metro) simply always be behind the 8-ball no matter what?

What can RVA do to drive construction costs down, to ramp up population and job growth & luring businesses in faster-growing job sectors to the city (boosterism/marketing/company recruitment? Push for a bigger airport/more/better airline service?) I would think rents follow, yes? If these are the primary metrics at play, then how do we get there? Did all these other cities just "get lucky" and hit the "mother lode" of things that drive those elevated economic factors, or did they actively promote and push for the kind of growth necessary to bring those factors into being? What does RVA need to do to also bring this about?

I realize there is no simple answer to this - or - a "simple" answer might end up being "it just depends..." which really isn't an answer.

I'm not versed in economics - it was never my forte when I was younger, and it's not now. So I am asking earnestly.  I get some of this stuff conceptually, but the way stuff fits together makes little sense to me - I don't have an economics brain. 

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19 hours ago, urbanlife said:

I get what you are saying and I am not disagreeing with that. There are 700+ft towers that can also be designed to be better connected to the street to create street activity.  Though height isn't that important compared to street activity. A city can have no building be over 10 stories and be one of the most active cities you have ever walked around in, and then a city could have a bunch of towers and be a ghost town on the streets. This is why I don't really concern myself with the height of the building, though I also think arbitrary height limits are pointless. (Height limits that have specific reasons like protecting viewpoints and making sure the most amount of sunlight is able to reach the streets are important.) 

A 700ft tower in Richmond would look nice, but so would a couple dozen 200-350ft buildings, a mix of residential, hotel, and commercial, which would add a lot more urban activity to the city, especially in and around downtown. Could you imagine how amazing it would be for there to be 200-350ft buildings between downtown and VCU. That whole area could be full of stores and restaurants and bars and cafes which would create such a great urban environment.  Park Slope in Brooklyn is one of the most active neighborhoods I have been in and it has no real towers in the entire neighborhood other than the larger buildings that have been going up on 4th and that area is extremely active because there is so much to walk to and so many people living in that area. Having people living in and around downtown is extremely important.

 

One last thing on height, in the end, the building needs to be profitable for a developer. No developer is going to build a 700ft building just because it looks cool, nor are they going to build a 400-500ft building for the same reason. These things have to pencil out and be profitable for a developer.

There are plenty of neighborhoods in Brooklyn loaded with height - not just the immediate downtown Brooklyn area. Yes - much of the borough does not have wall-to-wall highrises - but consider that BKN is only slightly larger than RVA area wise (69 sq mi to 62 sq mi) - but with a population of 2.736 million, if it were a stand-alone city, would be the country's fourth-largest, trailing Chicago by only 10,000 residents. So OF COURSE there is plenty of street-level activity there.

Tbh, your final point on height is the one that's the most prescient - as Coupe said - it's all about money.  Which we knew - but it stands as the most reasonable point on all of this. Which brings me to my question: what does RVA have to do in order to get her economic metrics more in line with other cities that are building bigger buildings, taller buildings, and more buildings? Is it driven primarily by population size? I would imagine there are more factors than just population - even though, obviously, that's a huge factor.

Yes - you make a very good point about how amazing it would be -- and look -- if the entirety of the western half of downtown (primarily Monroe Ward - but most of anything west from City Center to VCU) was JAM PACKED with a veritable forest of 200-350-foot-tall buildings, particularly residential buildings. Sort of a "Honey, I shrunk the Upper East Side" kind of thing. That would go a LONG way to getting a downtown residential population of well OVER the recommended 30,000 that my urban planning professors in undergrad suggested was the minimum to make downtown RVA a viable 24-7 place. Yes - I would be quite happy if that sort of thing sprouted in that part of downtown. It would be transformative.

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11 hours ago, I miss RVA said:

There are plenty of neighborhoods in Brooklyn loaded with height - not just the immediate downtown Brooklyn area. Yes - much of the borough does not have wall-to-wall highrises - but consider that BKN is only slightly larger than RVA area wise (69 sq mi to 62 sq mi) - but with a population of 2.736 million, if it were a stand-alone city, would be the country's fourth-largest, trailing Chicago by only 10,000 residents. So OF COURSE there is plenty of street-level activity there.

Tbh, your final point on height is the one that's the most prescient - as Coupe said - it's all about money.  Which we knew - but it stands as the most reasonable point on all of this. Which brings me to my question: what does RVA have to do in order to get her economic metrics more in line with other cities that are building bigger buildings, taller buildings, and more buildings? Is it driven primarily by population size? I would imagine there are more factors than just population - even though, obviously, that's a huge factor.

Yes - you make a very good point about how amazing it would be -- and look -- if the entirety of the western half of downtown (primarily Monroe Ward - but most of anything west from City Center to VCU) was JAM PACKED with a veritable forest of 200-350-foot-tall buildings, particularly residential buildings. Sort of a "Honey, I shrunk the Upper East Side" kind of thing. That would go a LONG way to getting a downtown residential population of well OVER the recommended 30,000 that my urban planning professors in undergrad suggested was the minimum to make downtown RVA a viable 24-7 place. Yes - I would be quite happy if that sort of thing sprouted in that part of downtown. It would be transformative.

With Brooklyn, only 12 buildings are taller than 500ft, and even then 4 of them are just barely over 500ft. Most towers in Brooklyn are shorter than 500ft with neighborhoods full of 2-4 story buildings. While Brooklyn has a much bigger population, the walkable structure of Brooklyn can be done on a smaller scale like Richmond. It requires creating street level commercial active streets and limited the amount of dead zones (areas where there are no residential or commercial entrances other than garage entrances.) Richmond would be an easy city to model this in and around its downtown because a lot of its historic urban structure still exists. 

 

With Richmond, it is on the smaller medium city metric. The city I live in, Portland, Oregon used to be one of these smaller medium cities. We have seen a huge amount of growth and new developments, but we haven't seen much in the way of new tallest buildings with the current tallest buildings being two buildings that are both about 540ft. We have had a few new 450ft buildings go in and a lot of 250-325ft buildings which have had a huge effect on the look and feel of the city. This is something Richmond could easily benefit from. Though the demand for urban highrise living has to come from the people who live in Richmond and the businesses it is trying to attract. In Portland, this shift happened when an old railyard was turned into the Pearl District, and became a wealthy urban district next to downtown similar to what is happening in the Scotts Addition which will eventually turn into quite a great urban district for the city. Scotts Addition is also a great metric on measuring what should be considered a part of the urban city center and everything in between should be focusing on upzoning and developing.

 

How that happens is a tough one because it's all in the marketing and proper planning to entice people to want to move to Richmond, want to live downtown and in the surrounding urban areas, and to attract the kind of businesses that want to be located in walkable urban areas. Plus expanding the airport to be able to pick up more direct flights. The connections to Europe and Asia (especially Asia being on the west coast) has played a huge factor in my city's growth. 

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18 hours ago, urbanlife said:

With Brooklyn, only 12 buildings are taller than 500ft, and even then 4 of them are just barely over 500ft. Most towers in Brooklyn are shorter than 500ft with neighborhoods full of 2-4 story buildings. While Brooklyn has a much bigger population, the walkable structure of Brooklyn can be done on a smaller scale like Richmond. It requires creating street level commercial active streets and limited the amount of dead zones (areas where there are no residential or commercial entrances other than garage entrances.) Richmond would be an easy city to model this in and around its downtown because a lot of its historic urban structure still exists. 

 

With Richmond, it is on the smaller medium city metric. The city I live in, Portland, Oregon used to be one of these smaller medium cities. We have seen a huge amount of growth and new developments, but we haven't seen much in the way of new tallest buildings with the current tallest buildings being two buildings that are both about 540ft. We have had a few new 450ft buildings go in and a lot of 250-325ft buildings which have had a huge effect on the look and feel of the city. This is something Richmond could easily benefit from. Though the demand for urban highrise living has to come from the people who live in Richmond and the businesses it is trying to attract. In Portland, this shift happened when an old railyard was turned into the Pearl District, and became a wealthy urban district next to downtown similar to what is happening in the Scotts Addition which will eventually turn into quite a great urban district for the city. Scotts Addition is also a great metric on measuring what should be considered a part of the urban city center and everything in between should be focusing on upzoning and developing.

 

How that happens is a tough one because it's all in the marketing and proper planning to entice people to want to move to Richmond, want to live downtown and in the surrounding urban areas, and to attract the kind of businesses that want to be located in walkable urban areas. Plus expanding the airport to be able to pick up more direct flights. The connections to Europe and Asia (especially Asia being on the west coast) has played a huge factor in my city's growth. 

Good information. Thanks for detailing how Portland really took off and moved higher up in the urban hierarchy. Indeed, the city has nearly doubled its in-town population since 1980. You bring up an important factor - and it's one that has allowed Charlotte to really boom (and 30 years prior, Atlanta) - the airport. It seems like if there is ANY factor that drives urban growth more than any it's having a large -- preferably hub -- airport. Which makes sense - businesses want to be located where there is ready transportation to and from other major markets. RVA missed the boat BIG time on this one nearly 45 years ago when the powers that be decided it would not be "fiscally responsible" to invest in a huge expansion of the airport to accommodate landing a hub at what is now RIC (it was still called Byrd Field in the 1970s) - and the lack of willingness to spend money to build a parallel runway and to expand the terminal and other facilities resulted in RVA saying "thanks, but no thanks" to the folks at Piedmont Airlines - who wanted to put their hub here. Charlotte eagerly pounced on the loose football and the rest is history.

I'm not sure -- some 45 years hence -- with other airports in the region having secured hub services how RIC can jump into that mix and either steal a hub or entice an up-and-comer to establish a hub here. Plans have been on the table for at least the past decade of how RIC can be expanded -- the blueprints have been posted here on RVA/UP in the airport sub-forum. The plans are there. Whether or not the financial willingness is there remains to be seen (how much federal or state transportation money can go toward something like this would be an interesting find) - but even if the LOCAL minds - far more forward-thinking than those in charge 40 and 50 years ago -- are more than willing to pony up money to build a bigger RIC - will the airlines play ball, now that they are ensconced in other places?

Interesting how everything seems to keep coming back to the airport.

Edited by I miss RVA
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19 minutes ago, I miss RVA said:

Yes - that's for the new parking deck.

Hadn't seen the crane for it or seen anything  that one had been installed, had you seen this already and I'm late to notice this?

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4 minutes ago, Hike said:

Hadn't seen the crane for it or seen anything  that one had been installed, had you seen this already and I'm late to notice this?

It popped up about two weeks ago.  

On 8/14/2021 at 4:22 PM, Brent114 said:

Well this was unexpected! 
 

6D2A010B-495E-4EF1-9171-DE3AFB259174.jpeg

 

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