RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond City Councilors took yet another step to block the controversial Navy Hill development.
It was a contentious discussion between city councilors with lines drawn in the sand.
Four councilors said enough is enough - it’s time to move forward. But the majority said there are more questions than answers so it’s time to stop.
Monday night’s vote came from the council’s Organizational Development Committee which included all councilors. The motion will strike all 10-pieces of legislation that dealt with the Navy Hill project.
Councilors were agitated with each other over procedure and transparency. Some weren’t even aware that a vote would happen.
Those in the audience had mixed opinions about what should happen.
“I think this is essentially a troubling process from the outset and I think the process that we’re describing to conclude it is equally as troubling,” Kristin Reed, who is against Navy Hill, said.
“This is not the time to do it. Now is the time to end it. Now is the time to move on and to move away from this entire project,” said Joseph Rogers, who is also against Navy Hill.
Last week, five city councilors signed on to legalization that would stop the project and request a redo of the request for proposals process.
“The arena’s operator has promised the city that any deficit would be absorbed by their company assuring the city of no losses on the operations of the arena,” Jack Berry with Richmond Regional Tourism explained.
“As it stands now, the arena is empty. It’s not generating any revenue. It’s a tax burden to all of us here in the city as it stands,” Charles Carter, who supports Navy Hill, said.
The project is not officially dead in the water yet. Those same councilors will take a full vote on the motion to strike at its meeting on Feb. 24. The public can also speak then.
Council also heard from a third-party consultant who said the project met a number of marks for the city including adding to the affordable housing stock in Richmond.
That consultant will present a final report to the council next week.
The Navy Hill District Corp. released the following statement following the vote:
“Today, Richmond City Councilmembers voted to upend a two-year long, public request-for-proposal (RFP) process without considering project amendments or a third-party analysis that they themselves requested and paid for. After hundreds of meetings, dozens of public hearings, and recent announcements on job creation and community benefits, our hope was that instead of looking for ways to vote “no” on the Navy hill project, these City Councilmembers would come to the table with solutions or ideas for ways to improve it. Instead, our proactive attempts to sit down with each of these five members have been met with silence.
“But that hasn’t stopped us from listening. Richmonders spoke, we answered, and together we made a great project even better. As the public learns about all of the benefits and protections for the City this opportunity presents, we hope that Council will reconsider their decision and take up the soon-to-be amended ordinances for consideration. The City and the developer both deserve an opportunity to present their full case to the public, with changes that have addressed many of the concerns we have heard through community engagement and after considering the Advisory Commission’s report.
“We have given it our all to make this the best project for the City, taxpayers and residents – and will continue to try to work with Council to achieve a resolution that brings significant investment to Richmond with significant community benefits. We call upon these members to do the hard work and make sure that happens We call upon these members to do the hard work and make sure that happens on February 24.”
A full council vote on the motion to strike will be taken up on Feb. 24.
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