GreenCity arena hopes to draw sports, music acts
When developers unsuccessfully pitched Navy Hill, a $1.5 billion mixed-use project and arena that sought to reinvent Richmond’s downtown, they posed a question: If a major draw like Beyoncé came to town, where would she perform?
Now those same developers are aiming to host artists like Justin Timberlake, Green Day and John Legend at GreenCity, a proposed privately funded $2.3 billion mixed-use development in Henrico County that will include a 17,000-seat arena.
Capital City Partners LLC’s Michael Hallmark says that GreenCity’s status as an ecodistrict — a sustainable development with a reduced ecological footprint — will draw interest from music acts that have pledged to make their tours ecofriendly.
Hallmark also touts GreenCity’s location along Interstate 95, saying musicians will no longer have to make doglegs to Charlottesville or Hampton Roads on their tours.
“For the promoters, they think that’s an ideal site,” says Hallmark, adding that the $245 million arena would be large enough for major national tours. The arena could also serve as a home for both minor league hockey and basketball teams; Hallmark hopes it may appeal to NCAA basketball tournaments as well.
“It’s a game changer,” says Jack Berry, president and CEO of Richmond Region Tourism, noting GreenCity’s sporting events and massive conferences would boost regional hotel occupancy. “It will absolutely be a huge investment into tourism for us.”
Dan Schmitt, chairman of Henrico’s Board of Supervisors, says the venue will “serve community needs as well,” and can be sectioned off for smaller events: “We’ve been real clear about asking for flexibility within the facility.”
GreenCity is expected to have a cumulative economic impact of $387 million in labor income and $751.1 million in overall economic output during its 11-year buildout, according to a study by Glen Allen-based Mangum Economics. At full buildout, GreenCity’s commercial businesses are expected to support roughly 8,000 jobs and $600 million in labor income.
Conservatively, Mangum estimates that GreenCity should generate cumulative net tax revenue of $80.5 million for Henrico by 2034 after accounting for the cost of county infrastructure and services.
“This development will be our principal taxpayer in the county, and we have some pretty big taxpayers,” says Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas.
As of early August, the project’s 204-acre site on the former Best Products headquarters campus was undergoing rezoning; Hallmark says the arena should be completed by early 2025.