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Ethyl Plans to Sell Canal Property

There are 11 parcels of privately owned land located downtown along the canal, including three sites owned by Alcoa Corp. The Ethyl property is the largest by far. It's also the only one not yet built upon or slated for development by Richmond Riverfront Corp., which markets and manages properties along the canal.

The swath of land lies along Tredegar Street between the historic Tredegar Iron Works and the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and boasts panoramic views of the Falls of the James. Offering 412,163 square feet of space, it's zoned for new construction and commercial use. According to deed covenants, builders would be restricted to a 60-foot height limitation.

Scott Boyers, a real-estate agent with Grubb & Ellis/Harrison & Bates who specializes in downtown properties, says the land would be the perfect fit for a mixed-use project that would include office space.

"It's a great site for a high-rise," he says, adding that the 60-foot height restriction would be a "travesty" to developers and should be overturned. Boyers says he's heard rumors that an out-of-town developer was interested in the land, but cautions that Ethyl's reputation as "close-to-the-vest" in its real-estate dealings has piqued speculation before. Still, he says, "it's a piece of property whose time has come."

Last year Ethyl Corp. contracted with Brandywine Realty Trust, which manages The Arboretum office park in Midlothian and Main Street Centre downtown, to market the site to potential investors and developers, Hazelgrove says.

The undisclosed deal "will lead to future development," Hazelgrove says, and "will be a good thing for the city." — Brandon Walters

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