RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A four-acre green space just a few minutes’ walk from Brown’s Island in downtown Richmond could soon become the region’s newest live music venue, as plans for an amphitheater overlooking the James River have been released, with the hopes of raising the curtain by spring 2024.
According to a release sent out Thursday, July 14, the proposed site would accommodate up to 7,500 people, with the flexibility to expand to more than 10,000 people for major shows and events. If built, it is projected the amphitheater would host 25 to 35 shows annually.
While the existing music venues in Richmond are perfect for indoor performances, ie: The Broadberry, The Camel, The National, The Canal Club, Dominion Energy Center, Richmond Music Hall, Hippodrome Theater and more, as of now, the city is lacking in outdoor venues to host audiences from out of town, and is passed over by top musicians in favor of Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia, Charlottesville, and even North Carolina.
The founder of Virginia-based music industry leader Red Light Ventures, LLC, Coran Capshaw, is leading the effort in conjunction with NewMarket. The release states that Capshaw has developed a 4,000-capacity amphitheater in Charlottesville, and his firm partners in the 6,800-capacity Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville, Tennessee.
Capshaw also leads Star Hill Presents, the promotional wing of Red Light Management, a company “home to one of the largest artist rosters in the music industry,” and, according to the release, manages top artists such as Lionel Richie, Enrique Iglesias, Brandi Carlile, Luke Bryan, Phish, Dave Matthews Band, Brittany Howard, Dierks Bentley and Chris Stapleton.
While the project has been in development for a good amount of time, it is now nearing the end of the feasibility stage. While developers are still evaluating the cost to build and operate the venue at the proposed location, the proposed location does not require any zoning changes or special use permits. City officials recently met with the development team for a pre-application meeting.
The plan stated in the release said that the venue will highlight the location’s historic features by using the brick Company Store building as the box office and preserving stonework along the Kanawha Canal. The design firm serving as architect for the project, 3North, has a history of historic restoration and preservation in the Richmond area, having worked on the Tredegar restoration project.
“Not only is it on the riverfront, but it has some of the most dramatic views of the city skyline,” said 3North Managing Principal Jay Hugo. “We really want to capitalize on that and knit it into its setting.”
Due to the site’s central location, the release states that easy access will make it ideal for hosting a multitude of events in addition to live concerts. The Richmond Amphitheater could also host community-based activities and offer to be the primary stage for popular annual festivals, such as one of Richmond’s favorites, the Folk Festival.