RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The new Virginia General Assembly Building has been seven years in the making — and it is opening to the public next week. 8News was able to get an inside look at the 414,000-square-foot building.

From a coffee bar, to new state-of-the-art committee rooms and upgraded offices, Virginia’s new General Assembly Building is ready for visitors and lawmakers.

Clerk of the Senate, Susan Clarke Schaar, said the $292 million project was an ideal investment for taxpayers.

“This is going to be more beneficial to people who are interested in the process or have concerns to bring before the legislature,” Schaar said. “It’s going to be a better functioning building overall and I think that is important to taxpayers.” 

The 14-story building has one floor below ground. It includes larger committee rooms, something Schaar said the old General Assembly Building didn’t have — shutting out constituents.

“Committee rooms were too small,” Schaar said. “We didn’t have enough subcommittee rooms. Members didn’t have enough space for their staff members.”

For those in the Richmond area, the meeting rooms and the cafeteria will be open to the public year-round. Meanwhile, for those in other parts of the state, House clerk Paul Nardo said upgraded technology means all Virginians can be part of the legislative process.

“We will be livestreaming all of the videos from the meetings,” Nardo said. “We can easily archive them. Members can zoom in. They can testify remotely.” 

Public spaces, including the cafeteria and meeting spaces, will be open on weekdays and days the General Assembly are in session.