Fan Group Focuses on GRTC Site Options 

click to enlarge A decision on the future of the former GRTC depot in the Fan, as seen during the Street Art Festival in 2013, is expected by Sept. 15.

Scott Elmquist

A decision on the future of the former GRTC depot in the Fan, as seen during the Street Art Festival in 2013, is expected by Sept. 15.

A boutique hotel? An upscale food market? Fancy condominiums?

All intriguing options. But please, no mini big boxes — and make sure you provide enough parking.

Those are the ideas of the Fan Area Business Alliance as it mulls over the potential sale of a choice, 7-acre lot owned by the GRTC Transit System.

The lot, bordered by Robinston Street, Cary Street, Stafford Avenue and Grayland Avenue, was a GRTC maintenance area until being abandoned in 2010 when better facilities became available.

GRTC has collected 12 proposals from developers about what to do with it. Few details were available, but bidders include big-time developers H. Louis Salomonsky and David White, known for their Shockoe Bottom lofts. Another is Richard S. Johnson of the Wilton Cos.

GRTC is weighing the proposals and will conclude negotiations by Sept. 1, spokeswoman Carrie Rose Pace says, with a final decision made by Sept. 15.

Nearby businesses want to make sure their concerns are heard.

“We know that the GRTC has full control and we’re trying to influence the outcome if we can,” says Tim Treinen, a board member of the Fan business alliance.

The excellent geographic location of the site “provides such a cool opportunity,” says Kevin Wilson, another alliance board member. But, he warns, “A Wal-Mart is a total possibility.”

Preferable, he says, would be a retail area anchored by a natural foods-style grocery store like Ellwood Thompson Natural Market in Carytown, or upscale condominiums like the Monument Square project near Willow Lawn.

The GRTC lot faces some pollution problems with oil and other fuels saturating the ground. Pace says that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is due to finish a project to correct the problems by Nov. 15.

“My primary thoughts are that they consider adaptive reuse and not demolish the existing buildings,” Treinen says, with adequate parking a must.

Fifth District Councilman Parker C. Agelasto says one of the best ways to approach the matter is to see what the neighborhood has and what the missing pieces are.

“There is plenty of housing and plenty of business,” Agelasto says. A parking garage could fill a need, but he also notes that a boutique hotel approach has received much public support.

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