Mayor Levar Stoney today announced that the city administration has completed negotiations with The NH District Corporation (NHDC) on a plan to redevelop the area surrounding the Richmond Coliseum, a $1.5 billion plan that would transform the Navy Hill neighborhood and include a new arena, hotel, transit center, and other amenities.
Stoney said at a press conference that the project would revitalize downtown Richmond and dramatically increase the city’s capacity to fund education, housing, transit, streets and neighborhoods for generations to come. The plan, subject to the approval of Richmond City Council, will be submitted in the form of ordinances and supporting legal documents introduced at a special meeting of the council to be held on Monday, August 5.
“The ordinances we will deliver to the city council on Monday propose a responsible and inclusive opportunity to grow our economy by creating a thriving city center and community,” he said. “The agreement we have negotiated ensures that the Navy Hill development project will create thousands of jobs, hundreds of affordable housing units, job-training opportunities, new revenue, and world-class amenities for ALL Richmonders.”
The project is, according to the mayor’s office, projected to generate $500 million in annual wages in the region, in addition to an estimated $1 billion in surplus revenue to the city over 30 years for priorities such as education, housing, streets, and the arts.
Highlights of the negotiated proposal, as provided by the mayor’s office in a press release:
- 12,500 jobs in construction and 9,300 permanent jobs
- 480 affordable housing units with more in the future
- $300 million in minority business participation
- New GRTC bus transit center
- Renovated historic Blues Armory
- New arena to replace the Richmond Coliseum
- New 525+ room Hyatt Regency hotel
“This project is not only the largest economic development project in the city’s history but also the largest economic empowerment project in our city’s history,” the mayor said. “The overarching goal for this proposal is to significantly improve the quality of life for all Richmond residents.”
Under the proposed agreement, the Department of Social Services will stay in its current location until a future home can be found downtown. If another home cannot be found for DSS, the city will be under no obligation to move from its existing facility at Marshall Plaza.
Thursday’s announcement follows 17 months of negotiations between the city and Richmond-based community leaders of the nonprofit NH Foundation on behalf of NHDC, working with the developer, Capital City Partners (CCP). The mayor claims the agreement accomplishes the city’s goals without utilizing debt capacity, and without taking any existing tax money away from our schools or services. It does so without raising taxes, and without any subsidies or handouts for the developers of this project.
“During this time, we worked hard to memorialize in legal documents unprecedented protections for the city to ensure this project will be a safe and responsible investment for Richmond without leaving the City or taxpayers on the hook,” said Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn, the lead negotiator of the city’s team. “As the mayor has said, we’ve dotted the “i’s” and crossed the “t’s,” and the language in the ordinances will make sure that what we have agreed will happen, does happen.”
Leaders of NHDC and CCP will host a series of public outreach and engagement sessions with city residents in the coming weeks in addition to participating in the legislative process with city council and the Navy Hill Development Advisory Commission it formed to evaluate the proposal over the next 90 days.
“NH District Corporation’s goal is to help create a diverse downtown neighborhood that welcomes everyone,” said Dr. Monroe Harris, NH Foundation Board member. “Lots of people have worked hard to shape this plan, and we are excited to share the full detail of the project next week.
Still, many remain skeptical of the mayor’s plan, citing instances in which information on the project has been obscured or not made available to the public. Over 15,000 Richmond residents also signed a petition started by local lawyer and activist Paul Goldman, which would trigger a question on November’s election ballots asking whether the city should move forward with the project as planned. When a local reporter asked about the petition at Thursday’s press conference, Stoney was unfazed. “The project’s moving forward either way. I don’t have time to worry about political stunts,” he said.
More detailed information on the project can be found here.