Thursday, September 28, 2023

Virginia General Assembly Won’t Move to New Office Building for 2023 Session

The new Virginia General Assembly Building under construction in Richmond in September 2022. (Sarah Vogelsong / Virginia Mercury)

RICHMOND — Supply chain problems will delay the Virginia General Assembly’s planned move to a new 14-story-tall office building being built in downtown Richmond, state officials announced Wednesday.

The legislature will continue conducting much of its work out of the nearby Pocahontas Building through at least the 2023 legislative session, according to the Department of General Services, which is overseeing the construction project.

In a news release, the agency cited “delays of critical equipment needed for building code compliance” and delays affecting “audio and visual equipment needed for fully functional committee and subcommittee operations.”

The legislature, which has been using the Pocahontas Building to temporarily house lawmakers’ offices and committee rooms since 2017, had been scheduled to move into its new building in mid-October, leaving about three months until the start of the session in January.

In a news release, House of Delegates Clerk G. Paul Nardo called the delay a “sensible and realistic decision.”

“Like so many, I regret not being able to move in on time to the first purpose-built GAB for the public to more easily observe and actively participate in the law-making process,” Nardo said. “Unfortunately, we simply are not immune to the delays, prolonged delivery schedules and other deferrals being experienced by so many across Virginia and around the country and world.”

Senate Clerk Susan Clarke Schaar said officials wouldn’t have been able to ensure “a functional and complete building” had they pressed ahead with the move this year.

“While this is a setback for those who have worked so hard, we know it will be correct when it opens,” Schaar said.

As of early August, $325.8 million had been spent on the broader Capitol Square construction project, which includes the preservation of the former General Assembly Building’s facade, an underground tunnel, the relocation to temporary office space, a new parking deck and all the furniture and equipment needed for the new building, according to a report to the General Assembly.

Part of the historic Capitol building, where the legislature holds its daily floor sessions, has been temporarily closed as work continues on the tunnel connecting the Capitol to the new office building.

Construction of the new building began in the summer of 2019.

Officials said they expect the new building to be “fully functional sometime in early 2023.”

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