Richmond riverfront amphitheater gets green light
Construction of 7,500-person venue could begin in summer
Red Light Ventures LLC’s $30 million, 7,500-person riverfront amphitheater received a green light Monday from Richmond City Council, which approved a performance grant that paves the way for construction of the proposed music and performance venue to start as soon as this summer.
With plans to host up to 35 major acts annually, Red Light Ventures says the amphitheater could be open in time for the 2025 outdoor concert season. It will erect the amphitheater on four acres of land on the James River it will rent from NewMarket Corp. behind the American Civil War Museum at the historic Tredegar Iron Works. The project was initially pitched in summer 2022 by Charlottesville-based music industry executive Coran Capshaw, who also runs music company Red Light Management, through which he has managed the careers of Dave Matthews Band and hundreds of other major music performers. Concerts at the amphitheater will be arranged via Starr Hill Presents, Capshaw’s Charlottesville-based concert promotion company.
A City Council committee on June 5 unanimously recommended approval of a 20-year performance grant based on an incremental new real estate tax and admissions tax generated by the new venue to offset the project’s cost and the full council approved the public-private partnership Monday.
The performance grant is capped at $37 million, Richmond Economic Development Director Leonard Sledge told the council’s organizational development committee June 5, adding that financial models estimate that grant’s total at $26.4 million. As part of the deal, the development team has agreed to stage a benefit concert during the amphitheater’s first year in operation, with proceeds to be donated to a nonprofit that will address “a critical community need,” Sledge said. Additionally, the venue’s bathrooms will be open to the public on nonevent days, and the amphitheater will also be available to the city and nonprofit groups for civic events, including graduations and cultural events.
The new venue also fulfills goals laid out in Richmond’s growth plan about developing tourism attractions to elevate the city’s image and to “continue to delight existing and future residents, employers and visitors,” Sledge added.
Grant Lyman, Southeast region president for concert promoter Live Nation, a partner in the project, said the new amphitheater fills a void for touring artists between Washington, D.C., and the Carolinas. “The fan and artist’s experience here in Richmond will be world-class, bringing fans downtown to the riverfront with a background that showcases the city’s urban growth,” Lyman told the committee June 5. “Richmond can often be overlooked by big-name artists who are looking for a venue that’s large enough to meet the demand of their fan base, as well as capable of supporting their production needs.”
Some residents of the nearby Oregon Hill neighborhood have opposed the venue or sought to delay it, however, saying they were not given adequate input about cutoff times, noise and parking. The venue does not include parking, but as part of its agreement with the city, the amphitheater will be required to submit a parking plan annually to make sure to make sure existing parking is used and that venue attendees are not parking in residential neighborhoods.
“We feel like there’s no reason to rush this through in a week after negotiations have been taking place for probably a full year,” Charles Pool, a representative of the Oregon Hill Home Improvement Council, told council members during a public comment period Monday.
Stephanie Lynch, who represents Richmond’s 5th district, said a meeting is planned for Tuesday to address remaining recurring concerns about the amphitheater.