Richmond seeks developers for major downtown redevelopment project
Richmond is seeking proposals from developers to spur redevelopment of a 10-block area of downtown that includes the city’s aging Coliseum.
The city envisions an ambitious project that replaces the city’s 47-year-old coliseum and adds affordable housing and a convention center hotel with a minimum of 400 rooms.
Mayor Levar M. Stoney formally announced the city’s request for proposals (RFP) on Thursday. The RFP comes months after a group of investors led by Dominion Energy CEO Tom Farrell called for replacing the Coliseum and redeveloping many of its surrounding properties, including the former 6th Street Marketplace and Blues Armory.
The RFP addresses the area generally bounded on the west by North Fifth Street, on the north by East Leigh Street, on the east by North 10th Street and on the south by East Marshall Street. However, the city indicated that it is open to receiving proposals that encompass a larger area.
The current area includes properties mostly owned by the city that have been identified as an economic opportunity in its master plan. The North of Broad/Downtown Neighborhood Redevelopment Project will include components aimed at revitalizing underutilized city assets and improving life for Richmond residents.
“The goals of this RFP are bold,” Stoney said in a statement. “To expand economic development and affordable housing opportunities; to generate revenue while achieving poverty mitigation through jobs and training; to provide historic preservation and community revitalization, to promote and support tourism, and to ensure sustainable development and investments in infrastructure.”
Respondents to the RFP would need to address:
*A replacement for the seven-acre, 179,810-square-foot Richmond Coliseum
The RFP says the existing building “no longer meets the needs of the community. Opened in 1971, it is aged and in poor condition. A rejuvenated or new coliseum, however, has the potential to create significant economic development in adjacent areas.”
The proposal must include the demolition and replacement, or rehabilitation, of the coliseum as an entertainment venue. The RFP says the new arena should be a multiuse facility with about 17,500 seats. In 2011, a private consultant’s group estimated the cost of replacing the coliseum at $147 million.
The coliseum currently has $2.9 million of outstanding debt, and respondents would be required to outline a plan to draw down the debt as part of their proposal.
* Mixed-income and affordable housing
* Local job creation and local hiring with Minority Business Enterprises
* A 65,000-square-foot replacement of the Greater Richmond Transit Co. transfer station
* A convention center hotel, with a minimum of 400 rooms that’s close to the Greater Richmond Convention Center
* Historic preservation and adaptive reuse of the Blues Armory, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Proposals would also need to address issues such as land use, density, walkability, connectivity and other elements common in New Urbanism environments.
Responses to the RFP are due in 90 days on Feb. 9. Developers would need to pay a $50,000 submission fee payable to the city of Richmond that would be returned if a project was not selected.
The city’s timetable sets April 24, as the day for preliminary negotiations to begin with respondents. By Sept. 30, it wants to have a final project ready to send to the city council for action. Pinpointing when such a large redevelopment project could open, though, is difficult.
“The city wants a solid proposal and a development strategy that is best for the city. We are at the beginning of the process, so putting a timeline for opening is difficult without knowing what will proposed or how it would be phased,” Lee Downey, director of the city’s Department of Economic and Community Development said in an email.
Asked about the potential investment cost for the project, Downey said the city didn’t have a figure due to the project’s many components. Proposals “must address how the project will be developed and financed,” Downey said. “Potential strategies for addressing the components could vary tremendously, thus affecting the final investment totals.”
Stoney said the city would not entertain proposals that require the city to use its existing tax revenue or debt capacity to fund the project. The city also does not want to incur general obligation bonds to fund private components of a proposal, but is willing to consider proposals that incorporate tax increment financing or the creation of special service districts.
“We have too much to do for schools, housing, roads and other city priorities to leverage our limited borrowing capacity for this redevelopment,” Stoney said.
“This is a great opportunity for our city, and we want all of Richmond to benefit,” Stoney said. “By leveraging city-owned land, we can achieve transformational change. We look forward to receiving proposals that will continue our growth and serve the best interests of Richmond.”