Richmond City Council is considering a $1.5 billion development deal that would reshape much of the city’s downtown. The proposal has been more than a year in the making.
The huge city-led deal would bring a new arena, hotel and thousands of apartments -- much of it on city-owned land. The plan was negotiated behind closed doors, for over a year, with a private development company led by Dominion CEO Tom Farrell.
The company, formed specifically for this development deal, is called NH Foundation. They are proposing more than 2,500 new residences, a 527-room hotel, and new retail and restaurant space.
The deal also includes building the largest arena in the state so “our capital city can attract the country’s top performances and our residents can have the opportunity to see them without traveling for hours.”
In addition to the arena, the company will redevelop an old city-owned property - called the Blues Armory - as a food market, music club and ballroom. They’re also considering rebuilding a new central bus hub downtown.
The arena and Blues Armory will be paid for with future tax revenue. The rest of the development will be privately funded.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney now hands everything over to City Council for approval. The Council has set up a public commission to help vet the project.
Skeptics, like community organizer Kristen Reed, are hopeful the commission will bring more transparency to the finances of the deal.
“We want to know for certain that the wealth that’s generated downtown - simply by people being here, being present here and being active in this community - actually stays in the community,” Reed says.
City council members, and the public, got their first glimpse of the almost 600-page proposal Monday.