Richmond seeks developers for Diamond District
City issued request for interest in December 2021
The city of Richmond issued a request for interest on Dec. 28, 2021, seeking developers for the 66.7-acre Diamond baseball stadium property it has dubbed the Diamond District.
The city plans to demolish the stadium and construct a new multipurpose one that the Richmond Flying Squirrels will share with Virginia Commonwealth University’s baseball team near the old stadium site that the Squirrels say needs to be ballgame-ready by 2025. A 2016 study from Pennsylvania-based consulting firm Tripp Umbach estimated that it would cost at minimum $2.75 million to raze the baseball stadium.
VCU has been buying up properties on the other side of Hermitage Road from the Diamond District, with plans to build a 40-acre “athletic village” that will include indoor and outdoor tennis courts accessible to the public as part of a major sports practice facility.
Based on the city’s master plan, Richmond 300, the city’s vision for the property includes a more pedestrian-friendly street grid, parking garages, multiple public parks and new buildings providing employment, retail and mixed-income housing. The Science Museum of Virginia has begun a $21 million construction of a park, garage and greenway.
The city’s request includes data from recent ballpark construction around the country. “On average, approximately 60% of funding for recent ballparks is derived from public funding sources, while 40% is derived from private sources, and the average cost of recent Minor League Baseball ballparks has totaled approximately $72 million.”
In the site’s listed project goals, the city says it wants a new stadium “provided that the development of said baseball stadium does not require city financing” or that it “minimizes any city financing to the greatest extent possible.”
Requests are due Feb. 15. The evaluation panel anticipates announcing a shortlist in March. Developers on the shortlist will be eligible to apply to a request for offers, for which the application deadline will be in April or May. The city anticipates announcing its selection in the spring or summer and getting the approval of City Council.
The city’s evaluation criteria includes the years and breadth of the development team’s experience, its urban mixed-use experience, equitable development benefits like affordable housing units, and an understanding for the project as well as evaluation of the team’s financing approach.