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Bally’s Casino proposal no longer being considered

Updated: Apr. 21, 2021 at 3:32 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The City of Richmond’s Resort Casino Evaluation Panel is no longer considering Bally’s Richmond Casino Resort at Chippenham Parkway and Powhite Parkway.

“We appreciate Bally’s interest to develop a resort casino project in Richmond,” said Leonard Sledge, Director of the city’s Department of Economic Development. “The Evaluation Panel is no longer considering the Bally’s project or the Parkway Crossings site for a resort casino due to concerns about site access, environmental factors, and required approvals from non-city entities that may not be granted or extend the project timeline. We also appreciate the many Richmond citizens who have shared their thoughts throughout this process.”

The shortlist of proposed resort casino projects has been narrowed down to Live! Casino & Hotel at 1301 N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard and ONE Casino + Resort at 2001 Walmsley Boulevard.

Live! Casino & Hotel Richmond and ONE Casino + Resort.
Live! Casino & Hotel Richmond and ONE Casino + Resort.(Richmond City Government)

In a statement to NBC12, Bally’s wrote :

“We are disappointed and surprised in the Evaluation Panel’s decision. We are the best operator to partner with the City on this endeavor and we provided the largest financial package with the most economic benefit to RVA residents and business owners. We were deeply committed to this project, as well as to becoming a responsible neighbor and member of the Richmond community. Should the City reconsider its decision we would be pleased to reengage.” - George Papanier, President and Chief Executive Officer, Bally’s Corporation.

The Bally’s proposal was met with opposition and protest. Neighbors in the Forest Hill area were researching the environmental impacts, the history of the area and writing to city officials to share concerns.

“I got kicked out of the Trader Joe’s for telling people in the parking lot and inside, ‘did you know there is a casino going down?’ None of them knew and I was shocked.” said Rebecca D’Angelo. “The wetlands are so dear to my heart and nature, and I am not a fan of big development like that, and I am just tickled pink.”

D’Angelo is among those who were relieved to read the city’s announcement about Bally’s no longer being on the list of proposals. Neighbors say they harnessed the power of social media to organize, but they continue to focus on protecting the 61-acres that Bally’s was hoping to develop on.

“Though we are celebrating, there are developers who will still want to develop on this land, there are still unmarked gravesites there, more than likely. There is still work to be done,” said Lauren Bell. “We are going to consider this a win and talk about how we can support the other communities as well.”

Jeanne Walls has been living in Stratford Hills for 40 years, and says Richmond needs an economic development opportunity, but feels building a casino would be a “band-aid.”

“A casino is not an answer, it is not the end all be all to Richmond’s money problem, and it is an eyesore,” Walls said. ”We put a sign in my front yard three Fridays ago and watched the neighbors walking around, and so many didn’t know what was going on, we got together in three weeks and pulled this off.”

The City’s Evaluation Panel is continuing its evaluation of the remaining proposals and sites. Factors in the evaluation of the proposals include community impact and community benefits; location; direct revenue impact to the city; project feasibility and project sustainability; and economic development impact.

Citizens are encouraged to continue to share their comments on the proposed resort casino projects. Comments can be emailed to econdev@richmondgov.com.

The next phase of the city-led community engagement will start in May when the Evaluation Panel shares its recommended operator, location, and terms of the deal.

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