By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: January 4, 2020 | 1:45 p.m.
$14 million development opens along Dinwiddie’s U.S. Route 1
DINWIDDIE – The transformation of the former home of Southside Virginia Training Center in North Dinwiddie into Dominion Energy’s new multi-million dollar campus is complete as members of the electric utility’s leadership joined key officials from Dinwiddie and the City of Petersburg for last Thursday’s grand opening of its new office complex along U.S. Route 1 near Cox Road.
Thursday, nearly two dozen people visited Dominion Energy’s new office, a $14 million development that serves to replace their longtime home several miles to the east in neighboring Petersburg along East Washington Street near Puddledock Road. While the facility had served Dominion well since the 1950s, the landlocked plot their now-former office was located on presented challenges as they sought to expand their operations in the Tri-Cities and Southside Virginia.
“We have been there for more than 60 years and we simply need more space for our employees, our equipment, and vehicles,” Dominion Energy Media Relations representative Jeremy Slayton detailed in an earlier interview with The Dinwiddie Monitor, which saw Dominion look for viable properties, thus placing Dinwiddie on the radar given they own roughly 120 acres along both sides of the Petersburg/Dinwiddie line, with about 52 acres in Petersburg at Locks Yard along Rawlings Lane and the adjourning property in Dinwiddie totaling 65 acres on U.S. Route 1.
The new office building contains a staff of roughly 100 and hosts Dominion Energy’s distribution and operations teams, including the servicemen who work and maintain power lines, along with some of their designers who are tasked with engineering how the power lines and other infrastructure are constructed, transmission personnel, equipment, and other resources.
During brief remarks, Dominion Energy Senior Vice President Ed Baine called the development and opening of a new office complex “a once-in-a-career” experience.
“This will be a nice place for our employees to work but, more importantly, it will help us serve our customers better, the people who live and work in Dinwiddie, Petersburg, surrounding communities, and elsewhere,” he said. “We took a very intentional approach to what is inside the building and grounds” noting the installation of high efficiency HVAC systems, insulated walls, drought tolerant landscaping, along with other sustainability initiatives allowing it to receive LEED Silver certification, with LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, serving as a leading metric used for measuring green buildings.
As members of Petersburg’s city council listened on Baine assured them that their relationship that has been fostered for over a half-century will remain strong even though they have moved just over the city’s western border into Dinwiddie County.
“While the office building may have moved, our commitment has not,” Baine remarked. “We are not going anywhere and we will still have tens of thousands of customers in Petersburg that we are still committed to serve just as we have before and our partnership will not change.”
On hand for last week’s grand opening, Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors Chairman William Chavis and District 5 Supervisor Brenda Ebron-Bonner, whose district the new office is located in, spoke with employees at the office and Dominion’s leadership, with Chavis expressing thanks that the electric utility was guided to the county to establish its new home.
“This is truly God’s country and we are grateful that He led Dominion to move their office here,” he said. “Development is vital to our county. It drives our local economy, creating jobs that pay good wages that allow for a true quality of life for our citizens.”
The chairman continued, “Dominion Energy is no stranger to Dinwiddie. They already employ Dinwiddie citizens. Through programs such as EnergyShare, Dominion Energy not only helps those eligible families with energy bills, but also offers energy-efficient upgrades that will reduce their energy costs,” while also highlighting the involvement of Dinwiddie Schools in various educational initiatives led by the utility.
Before delivering his own remarks, County Administrator Kevin Massengill talked about the impact of another major employer establishing roots in Dinwiddie County, joining the likes of Amazon, ALDI, and homegrown business Elite Contracting.
“If you think about Dominion Energy, they are very well respected across the Commonwealth and a huge community partner,” he shared. “They have been a part of this region and Petersburg but now they have the opportunity to be here in Dinwiddie County. For me, I think the redevelopment of this whole section of this campus is the gateway leaving Petersburg into Dinwiddie so, it not only provides us with additional job opportunities but, better capital investment, too.”
“Dinwiddie is a great place for these corporate entities to make their home,” Massengill continued.
In June of 2014, SVTC ceased its operations as the state shuttered all but one of its training centers at the time. In a span of five years, the site went from largely vacant to occupied by Dominion. For Massengill, the recognition of better private sector uses for a state property once its public sector use has ended bodes well for the county as Dinwiddie prepares for the development of a new Central State Hospital in the coming years.
“This really shows the state that the Commonwealth of Virginia recognizes, if there is a higher, better use for property, they need to be able to work with the private sector to make that happen,” the county administrator remarked. “If you stop and think about this area, we have this announcement today and then across the street at Central State, the $315 million that is getting ready to be spent there and the redevelopment of some unused property, I think what you see here with Dominion can be done over at Central State and some of their surplus property.”
Massengill added, “Looking down the corridor, you can see O’Reilly Auto Parts that has opened, we have a couple more pads that could be developed here, along with the roundabout and Cedar Heart Market, it has really become a place of community in this area and I think it has been a good thing for Dinwiddie County.”
Talking about the county’s economic development strategies in a general sense and how its worked to attract leading businesses to the county while retaining others, the county administrator said they have been focused on drawing businesses and their headquarters to Dinwiddie.
“A good part of that [strategy] is you don’t put all of your emphasis on one business as to diversify the tax base,” he said. “To have such companies like Walmart, Amazon, and Elite Contracting decide, not only they want a footprint here, we want to have our corporate people here as well. For Dominion, it shows they see this part of Southside Virginia is only going to continue to grow and develop and it makes good business sense for them to be here.”
Following brief remarks and a ceremonial ribbon cutting, Dominion Energy representatives led a small delegation of area leaders on a tour of the $14 million facility’s main office building, which features plenty of natural lighting, along with innovative office spaces that encourage collaboration between staffers as they work on projects and other tasks.
After the tour, Dominion Energy’s Baine spoke to the media, calling last Thursday a “wonderful day” for the electric utility and its staff.
“We are a firm believer that if we have great facilities for our colleagues and take pride in that, then our folks will take pride in what they do and that translates to great service to our customers and our communities we serve.”
“We also need to meet our business needs,” Baine continued. “Where we were previously located, there were some challenges, not only thinking about existing needs but future needs as well. This location serves a great purpose for us. It gives us an opportunity to build a facility like this but also, room for expansion for other needs as they emerge.”
He also reiterated Dominion Energy’s commitment to Petersburg as they depart their longtime home on East Washington Street, saying they intend to provide the same level of service and support to its customers in the city and surrounding communities from their new home in North Dinwiddie.
“We are in Dinwiddie County with this facility and the county has done a lot of work to support our efforts here but, we recognize our history with Petersburg and our unwavering commitment to serve Petersburg, Dinwiddie and all of the surrounding areas,” Baine shared.
While those driving by the complex may see acres of open space complementing the new office building and newly erected flag pole carrying America’s colors, Dominion Energy has plans to develop other buildings and facilities as needed as their new home supports future growth of the electric utility.
“In addition to this facility, which supports, primarily, our distribution colleagues, we are also building facilities that support our transmission and substation colleagues,” he detailed. “We are also building a test lab that will support testing inverters for solar, test new equipment for our transmission and distribution business, and also give us an opportunity to partner with local colleges and universities on research, as well.”
According to Baine, the test lab is currently in the design phase and is planned for sometime in 2021.
In regards to their former home in Petersburg, Dominion Energy’s Slayton said in an earlier interview, once they have vacated the facility, they will work with the city to determine “the most appropriate use” for that building going forward.
Copyright 2020 by Womack Publishing
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