RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It’s been nearly a year since Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney pitched a major overhaul of the city’s downtown area north of Broad Street, surrounding the Coliseum. Stoney called for builders to propose plans for a new Coliseum, nearby hotel, apartments and much more, without using any existing city tax dollars.
The only developer that answered the mayor's challenge was the NH District Corp, headed by Dominion Energy CEO Thomas Farrell II.
The $1.4 billion project would include a new 17,500-seat arena to replace the existing Coliseum. A neighboring 500-plus room hotel would stand near the new arena, helping bolster the Richmond Convention Center. A 2,800 unit apartment building with hundreds of affordable or low income units would also be built on the stretch, along with space for stores and restaurants. A new GRTC bus station, a rehabilitated Blues Armory, and improvements to neighborhood streets and other infrastructure would also be completed.
The builder and private investors would provide funding for the project. New tax dollars generated by the development in a special zone called a tax increment financing district (TIF), would first go to paying back those investors—only for the cost of the arena and armory. That’s because arena and armory would remain city property.
After the investors are paid back for those two facilities, all the subsequent tax revenue would go into the city’s pocket, including from the hotel, apartments, businesses, etc. A source close to the project says the tax money generated would be three times what they city would earn otherwise, if things stay as they are now. A representative for the mayor said the development would bring 20,000 jobs to the city and also use a set percentage of minority businesses.
“Constructive negotiations continue with the city on a proposal that would not merely replace the Coliseum, but rebuild a historic neighborhood and create thousands of jobs, build housing for many income levels and generate new tax revenue for schools and city services," said Jeff Kelley, a representative for the NH District Corp.
So far, the city has spent over $500,000 on consulting fees, vetting out all the plans and negotiations hashed out.
Ultimately, all final plans must be passed by the Richmond City Council.