RICHMOND (WRIC) – Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced Thursday a plan to build the largest arena in Virginia to replace the Coliseum as part of a $1.4 billion economic development project north of Broad Street.
‘The New Navy Hill,’ proposal would also bring 680 new affordable housing units, thousands of apartments and a large hotel to benefit the new arena and the Greater Richmond Convention Center to the area.
It’s considered the largest economic empowerment project in the city’s history.
“I believe that every Richmonder, every neighborhood, should share in our prosperity in not just old Richmond, but new Richmond in all its diversity and emerging talent,” Mayor Stoney said during a Thursday afternoon press conference. “To me, this is not about a coliseum, this is about what the project allows us to do.”
In addition to creating 21,000 total and 9,000 permanent jobs post construction, hundreds of affordable housing units and the state’s largest arena, the proposed project also includes:
- 300-plus million in minority business participation requirement; largest in city history
- New GRTC bus transit center
- Renovated history Blues Armory
- 500-plus room hotel to maximize use of the Convention Center
- Updated infrastructure and reconnected street grid
The deal still must be approved by the City Council.
Councilwoman Kim Gray said Mayor Stoney wants the project approved by December, a timetable she called ‘irresponsible.’
“As a councilperson, I think it would be irresponsible not to have all the details and not to be able to read through what the details of this whole large deal will entail,” Gray told 8News.
Richmond School Board member Jonathan Young reacted to the proposal on Thursday:
8News spoke with Virginia Union University’s President Hakim Lucas, who said he’s all for the project.
“Virginia Union University, we’re very excited about any development that is happening in Richmond that one, provides affordable housing, two, that provides some level of minority participation in economic development.”
Gallery: ‘New Navy Hill’ renderings
How the City of Richmond expects to pay for the project
With the proposed development’s price tag at $1.4 billion, some residents in the city are wondering how the project will be funded.
Mayor Stoney says the plan will create jobs, new affordable housing units and give $300 million in opportunities to minority-owned businesses.
“The synergy of having it all being done at the same time is what’s gonna make the difference. Not only in the increase in revenue from this development but increase in Downtown Richmond altogether,” said City Councilwoman Ellen Robertson.
Councilwoman Robertson has expressed support for the project but wants to take a closer look at the financing before making a final decision.
“This project represents a $1.4 billion investment that does not raise taxes or incur a financial risk to the city,” Mayor Stoney said at the presser on Nov. 1.
The bulk of the project, $1.1 billion, will be funded by private investors. Richmond will use bonds to pay for the rest, about $350 million. According to city officials, the development will eventually pay back the bonds.
The City of Richmond says it will not be using any of the funds from the Meals Tax, which was set aside for Richmond Public Schools.
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