Richmond City Council approves Diamond District
Richmond City Council voted unanimously May 8 to approve the $2.44 billion Diamond District project, which includes a replacement for the aging stadium that’s home to the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels baseball team.
The Diamond District’s first phase, expected to cost $627.6 million, includes a 9,000-capacity, $90 million-plus baseball stadium and a hotel with at least 180 rooms from a high-end brand, such as Hilton or Westin. The project also will include more than 3,000 rental and for-sale residential units, 935,000 square feet of office space, 195,000 square feet of retail and community space, and another hotel.
“This game-changer development will bring a high-quality baseball stadium, good-paying jobs, affordable housing, new small businesses, billions in investment, and green space,” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said in a statement.
As part of the agreement, the city transferred 61 acres of land to the Richmond Economic Development Authority for sale to development team RVA Diamond Partners LLC, which includes Richmond-based Thalhimer Realty Partners, Washington, D.C.-based Republic Properties Corp., Chicago-based Loop Capital Holdings LLC and San Diego venue developer JMI Sports.
Richmond is anticipating $118 million in financing for the stadium’s construction. The agreement sets $80 million as the minimum Community Development Authority (CDA) bond proceeds for the construction of the baseball stadium and public infrastructure, and the city will fund the first phase’s infrastructure with $23 million in Capital Improvement Plan General Obligation bonds.
Design work for the new stadium was scheduled to begin in May, with construction slated to start in August 2024 and finish by December 2025, and the Squirrels opening the spring 2026 season there — a year past a deadline previously set by Major League Baseball for all Minor League Baseball facilities to meet new standards. The Diamond, which opened in 1985, is considered too old to renovate and must be replaced.
The Squirrels are expected to sign off on the new stadium by July 1, the last hurdle remaining to keep the team in Richmond.
“City Council approval of the development agreement for the Diamond District is a big step in the continued revitalization of Richmond, one that the Squirrels are happy to be a part of,” Lou DiBella, president and managing partner of the Richmond Flying Squirrels, said in a statement. “We look forward to continued momentum with respect to the design and construction of our long-awaited home.”