Show off your holiday lights and you could win an iPad! Enter your photo by December 13. Winner will be selected by popular vote.
Courtesy of DGIF
Artist rendering of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries new headquarters in Richmond. Designers tried to give the building and outdoorsy look.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is in the business of making good things happen with water, like boating and fishing opportunities. But water in the agency's headquarters buildings; well, that's another matter.
Larry Hart, DGIF infrastructure director, gave me a tour of one of the three, 1960s-era buildings that make up the department's headquarters on the 4,000 block of West Broad Street in Richmond. In one of the basement areas there were high-water marks that, frankly, were startling, unless you wanted to have a canoe race up and down the halls.
When it rains, the roofs leak and there can be overflow from a nearby creek which not only gets into one of the buildings but can damage vehicles in the parking lot.
Estimates to repair, renovate and protect the buildings were $12.7 million. For that kind of money, the agency figured it should be able to build a new headquarters.
"The buildings we occupy are like an old car," Hart likes to tell people, especially critics. You reach a point when it is less expensive to buy a new car than to keep on repairing an old one. "That's where we are with the old buildings," he said.
In June, there was a ceremonial groundbreaking at the new 15-acre site in Northlake Business Park off Interstate 95 in Hanover County. Nearby is a Bass Pro Shops mega store and not far away is the recently relocated Green Top Sporting Goods, a homegrown business dear to the hearts of many sportsmen.
You can see the potential. An outdoorsman will be able to get a fishing or hunting license at the DGIF headquarters, then drive a short distance and buy all the gear he needs from a huge selection. Everybody benefits.
Like most building projects, this one is behind schedule. Plans now call for the two-story, 42,000-square-foot headquarters building plus a 7,000-square-foot warehouse to be completed by the 2014 deer season. But a potential snag occurred this week with word that the game department and the project's developer, Richmond-based General Land Companies, had parted ways when the DGIF executed a "termination for convenience" clause in the contract.
Neither side is saying much about what's behind this divorce, but Hart said it shouldn't delay the project. The agency plans to act as its own developer, using the architectural firm, engineering firm and subcontractors already in place. A clerk of the works will be hired to oversee construction, and, if needed, a project manager will be employed, Hart said. The new arrangement should save the agency some money.
The $10 million budget for the project was approved by the General Assembly and the funding to a large degree will come from hunting and fishing license sales and boat registrations; in other words, it will be the department's own money provided by sportsmen, not tax money. The agency expects to get an estimated $3 million from the sales of its current headquarters. It has been setting aside $1 million annually for the new headquarters.
The new headquarters, with an estimated 150 workers, will have less space-a 34-percent reduction in the footprint-than the current rambling headquarters complex. Hart said that is being accomplished by a more efficient design of the new space.
There should be plenty of room on the 15-acre grounds for an archery range, nature trails, picnic pavilion and wildlife habitat, including a pond. There is the potential for educational classes.
The project has received only minor opposition. A public hearing drew no comments.
One sportsman did tell me: "I remember being told the reason for the most recent (hunting and fishing) license increase was because the DGIF would not have enough money to pay their expenses in the near future. Now they can afford to build a brand-new headquarters for $10 million. How is that justified?"
There have been a few discouraging words from people who said the headquarters should not have been moved outside the Richmond city limits.
Comments welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
Weather JournalEarly mix, then ice storm Sunday