HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Think of the worst industrial slums in the Richmond area.
The old Fulton Gas Works would certainly be a contender.
And so would a nearby wasteland owned by - surprise - the state of Virginia.
If you drive east on Old Osborne Turnpike just downriver from Rockets Landing, you can easily see part of it behind a high fence ("NO TRESPASSING STATE PROPERTY") hugging the road across from the popular Virginia Capital Trail bicycle and pedestrian path.
Old truck trailers, un-mowed grass, overgrown scrub trees, a big storage building with trash and state property (including fuel cans that say "flammable") are visibly rusting and decaying.
And that's just an appetizer compared with the smorgasbord of vast buildings on the property with shattered windows, broken doors, rotting siding, tumbling gutters and assorted other building code violations.
Welcome to the Virginia Department of Transportation's Fulton equipment depot on Bickerstaff Road.
It's been mostly closed and neglected for years. Some of the buildings appear to be in danger of falling down.
Henrico County property records indicate the complex is just over 16 acres. VDOT inventory measures it at 20.
And we're talking about some of the most prime real estate in the area.
A hundred years ago the Army reportedly used it to store and move World War I surplus. Then it housed Virginia's first airplane dealership, according to one historic report.
This was one of VDOT's key equipment depots. I'm told a small portion of the complex still is used for storage, but much of the rest is too rundown.
A 2010 state study indicated VDOT could score $2 million selling it. They could get 10 times that now - if they don't get busted for building and safety code violations.
We reached out to VDOT about the property and this story has been updated to reflect their response, below.
VDOT plans to demolish the large warehouse building on the Fulton property. Demolition work will begin by May 2017. In preparation for demolition, VDOT is working with the Department of General Services to acquire the permits needed. VDOT expects to have a demolition permit by April 2017.
VDOT provided background, and said they discontinued the use of the facility for staff operations around 2006 and have since then used the property for storage and worked, as funding allows, to vacate the property completely.
They said they are removing items from the property, which is fenced and that staff physically checks the property a few days a week.
Check out the video or have a look. Just drive down Bickerstaff Road until you run into it. There's a distinctive and rusty water tower to mark the spot.
See if you agree with me that a private citizen or a corporation would not be allowed to maintain their property in this fashion.