City money and credit needed for ballpark project

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The results are in. A development in the bottom that includes baseball is an attractive idea, but will require taxpayer money. That's according to a $100,000 study requested by Mayor Dwight C. Jones. The study says the Shockoe Center proposal will need city backed bonds.

The mayor says he likes what he sees, but he's not ready to say yes to the $363 million Shockoe Center proposal.

"Many stars have got to line up in order for the project to go forward," said Mayor Jones.

According to the study, the proposal to put office space, shops, hotels and a baseball park in the bottom will most likely need help from the city in the form of credit support. But if the city backs the bonds, the city's cost will drop from $80 to about $60 million.

"We have a cap on what we can carry our debt up to and so it's going to be very critical that we make the right decision as what we want to increase debt. Cause once we do it, it's done," said Richmond City Council Vice President Ellen Robertson.

The study also found the project will have to generate at least $67 million a year in tax revenues to cover the cost of the bonds. Jones says the project has the potential to put Richmond on the map, but he's also challenging developers to step of the plate in two areas.

He wants the GTRC transfer station included in the plans.

"We also need to be sensitive to the cultural heritage of the Shockoe area and I would like to see clear plans for how we preserve the areas unique history and incorporate African-American cultural heritage," said Jones.

"I agree with the mayor. I think it's worth evaluating to make a determination if this is the debt that is most valuable for turning Richmond into a destination for the region," said Robertson.

Mayor Jones said the city is not saying yes the bonds or to even to building a stadium. He says Monday was about beginning the discussion with a better set of facts. The full report will be released in a few weeks.

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