Mayor Stoney pushes $1.4B plan to revitalize Downtown
Jeremy M. Lazarus | 11/8/2018, 6 a.m.
The grand plan to overhaul a big chunk of Downtown — including replacing the Richmond Coliseum with a new, larger arena — with a combination of taxpayer dollars and private investment funds is now headed to Richmond City Council for review.
Mayor Levar M. Stoney last week enthusiastically rolled out the ambitious plan to completely redo about 13 blocks near City Hall over the next five years with a projected investment of $1.4 billion.
The plan would change the face of an area that once was an African-American neighborhood known as Navy Hill, create hundreds of new affordable apartments, provide black-owned and minority companies with hundreds of millions of dollars in new contracts and generate thousands of new jobs to help lift untold Richmond residents out of poverty.
However, the development would for at least 18 years sop up most of the new real estate taxes and a major chunk of other taxes the development would generate, money that would be needed to cover the cost of the proposed new Coliseum and other public improvements, including improvements to Clay, 6th, 7th and Leigh streets, as well as the redevelopment of the historic Blues Armory.
Over the next 30 years, the development is projected to create $1.7 billion in new city taxes. But in the first 18 years, the lion’s share would need to be used to repay $350 million in city borrowing.
In the first 15 years, the city’s general fund is expected to gain only about $13 million a year in new funds, although in 20 to 30 years, the new money could grow to $60 million a year and then increase to $90 million a year, according to the city’s financial consultants.
One result is that the development would sideline any prospect for modernizing the majority of Richmond’s public school buildings for at least 20 more years, according to information the city released to the media.
And it would force the relocation of the centrally located Richmond Department of Social Services building that now sits across the street from City Hall. The mayor and his staff are proposing to move Social Services to a privately owned location at Jefferson Davis Highway and Walmsley Boulevard close to the border with Chesterfield County, nearly nine miles away in South Side.
Highlights of proposed Coliseum project
• $1.4 billion in construction involving 15 buildings
• Creation of thousands of new jobs (projections range from 6,000 to 20,000)
• Richmond Department of Social Services building to be relocated to 4700 block of Jefferson Davis Highway
Publicly financed from incremental tax growth
• 17,500 seat Coliseum, largest enclosed arena in state, 5th and Leigh streets.
• Three-story Blues Armory restored, with food market, music club and ballroom for new hotel, 6th and Marshall streets.
• Leigh Street brought up to grade between 6th and 8th streets.
• Clay Street reopened between 5th and 10th streets.
• 6th Street reopened between Marshall and Clay streets as pedestrian mall.
Privately financed by investors and lenders
• 527-room, 23-story Hyatt Regency hotel between Blues Armory and new Coliseum.
• 150-room replacement for Doorways Hospitality House hotel for hospital visitors, one element of replacement for Public Safety Building.
• Two large office buildings, with one at 5th Street next to new Coliseum, and one to be leased by Virginia Commonwealth University to fill most of space occupied by Public Safety Building.
• GRTC Transfer Center, Clay and 8th streets.
• Grocery store, 9th and Marshall streets.
• Retail space in eight apartment buildings for restaurants and other stores.
• 2,936 apartments in eight buildings, including 680 affordable units and 400 units for students. Locations: 163 units wrapping around Marriott Hotel parking deck, 5th and Marshall streets; 150 units wrapping around Coliseum parking deck, 8th and Clay streets; 250 units, 7th and Leigh streets; 600 units, 8th and Leigh streets; 457 units, 9th and Marshall streets; 512 units, 4th and Broad streets; 422 units, 6th and Broad streets; and 422 units, 6th and Grace streets.