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Mayor Stoney announces $1.5 billion Navy Hill redevelopment plan, including new arena, transit center

The plan will see the transformation of the Navy Hill neighborhood and include an arena, hotel, retail and office, and more. Though committing to a public approval process, Mayor Stoney responded to one reporter’s question about a petition signed by 15,000 city voters to add a ballot referendum on the project saying, “The project’s moving forward either way. I don’t have time to worry about political stunts.”

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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.

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Arts & Entertainment

Axe-throwing chain set to open near The Circuit Arcade Bar in Scott’s Addition

The venue will open in the former Nicholson Sprinkler Corp. building at 3100 W. Leigh Street in the heart of the neighborhood.

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From Richmond BizSense:

After its first attempt to get into the Richmond market fell flat, a Canadian axe-throwing bar is back with a location coming to Scott’s Addition.

Bad Axe Throwing is preparing to open at 3100 W. Leigh St. in a 5,000-square-foot space in the old Nicholson Sprinkler Corp. building.

Based in Ontario, Bad Axe has nearly 50 locations throughout the U.S., Canada and the U.K. In 2018, it began planning a Richmond location on West Broad Street, across from the forthcoming Whole Foods in Sauer Center.

But those plans fell through last spring. Bad Axe owner Mario Zelaya said there was an issue about the amount of parking available at that location, which caused them to scrap the plans.

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Business

Nine-acre Elks Lodge property near Innsbrook slated to be transformed into mixed use development

Highwoods Properties paid $3.3 million for the nine-acre Elks Lodge near Innsbrook After Hours and plans to mull over mixed-use, high density options for the site.

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From Richmond BizSense:

One of the biggest landlords in Innsbrook has amassed more land in the area, this time snagging a block of acreage next to the site where the Innsbrook After Hours concert series is held.

Highwoods Properties last month bought the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks Lodge No. 45 property at 10022 Elks Pass Lane in Henrico. It paid $3.3 million for the 9-acre assemblage, which adds to another 12 adjacent and largely undeveloped acres the company already owns.

Jane DuFrane, Highwoods’ vice president and local market lead, said the company still is mulling options for the Elks land and adjacent sites, including developing a “walkable community with a mix of uses.”

“The Elks Lodge property’s contiguous proximity to our other land holdings and existing office buildings made it a natural fit for our portfolio,” DuFrane said in an email.

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Business

Container Store, Chase Bank taking over two adjacent properties at Short Pump Town Center

The former hhgregg appliances and electronics store and neighboring Matchbox restaurant are being transformed into two new-to-Richmond brands.

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Two neighboring properties at the entrance of Short Pump Town Center are set to be transformed into homes for two new-to-Richmond brands – both as reported by Richmond BizSense.

The former Matchbox Restaurant on W. Broad Street is currently being eyed for a new Chase Bank, BizSense says. Plans have been filed to transform the two-story building into a bank and drive-thru. Read more about the plans here.

Across the road, the former hhgregg appliance and electronics store – originally built as a Circuit City – is being rehabbed into a new location for The Container Store, which sells home organization and storage solutions. Check out progress of the transformation here.

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