HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Henrico County announced today that officials are endorsing a developer’s vision for a ‘GreenCity’ off I-95 and E. Parham Road that includes a 17,000-seat arena. The developers previously worked on the proposed Navy Hill project with the City of Richmond.
“We’re talking about a new kind of community that is intricately planned, that is inclusive for all and thoughtfully designed to not only be livable, but also environmentally sustainable,” said Henrico County Manager John A. Vithoulkas.
The $2.3 billion project will be constructed on the former Best Products Co., Inc. site. Henrico County purchased the 93.6 acre site in 2011. The development will extend through an additional 110.6 acres of land to the north, known as the “Scott Farm.”
The project is described as a private, mixed-use “eco-district” development. In addition to an arena, officials said the development would include extensive parks, trails and open spaces, two million square feet of office space, 280,000 square feet of retail space, 2,400 housing units and two hotels.
“GreenCity will be a community that preserves, embraces and showcases open space, and it will drive economic development and tourism in new and exciting ways while remaining respectful to county taxpayers,” Vithoulkas said.
When asked how the county will ensure residents will not pay for the project, the county manager said developing and redeveloping is “how we keep our taxes low.”
“This is a private development. Ultimately, the benefit for the county is the jobs that occur during the construction, the value that comes once the development is finished back to the taxpayers,” Vithoulkas added.
County officials said the arena’s construction would be financed through a sale of bonds. Under this financing model, certain taxes generated by the ‘GreenCity’ development would be used to make debt payments over a period of 30 years.
After that, all taxes generated by the development, which is estimated to be more than $20 million, would go to the county’s general fund. Vithoulkas pointed to other developments in the county, such as Short Pump Town Center, which were funded in a similar way.
Henrico County Brookland Park District Supervisor Dan Schmitt said, “It’s a great day in Henrico.” Schmitt is also the President of RMC Events, a Richmond-based event staffing firm.
PER HENRICO: arena is planned to be the greenest arena venue in North America and would accommodate up to 17,000 patrons in flexible seating configurations to accommodate touring concerts, family shows & potentially new sports teams including ECHL Hockey and G-League Basketball.— Tyler Thrasher (@TylerJThrasher) December 1, 2020
“This is the kind of development I hope people of the 21st Century would want their county to offer them,” said Frank J. Thornton, Supervisor of Fairfield District.
‘GreenCity’ is a joint venture between Concord Eastridge, Inc., and Future Cities, LLC. Both groups were previously involved in the Navy Hill project proposed by Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and ultimately voted down by Richmond City Council in February.
Five city council members said they voted down the proposal because it “puts too much public funds at risk and represents the type of deal-making that reinforces distrust issues that continue to exist in our city.”
Mayor Levar Stoney’s Office responded to the announcement of ‘GreenCity’ in a statement.
“Obviously, Mayor Stoney believed an arena-anchored mixed-use redevelopment was a great opportunity to redevelop downtown and generate revenues and benefits for the City. Henrico’s announcement today shows this vision had merit – and the Mayor wishes them well and he’s glad that the region will benefit,” said Lincoln Saunders, Mayor Stoney’s chief of staff. “But the city still has many opportunities in front of us and over the next four years you can expect the Mayor to BOLDLY pursue each and every one of them.”
Vithoulkas does not believe ‘GreenCity’ is comparable to the Richmond proposal.
“What you have here, is you have raw, vacant land. We are not redeveloping portions of plots,” he said. “It is a totally different project, but ultimately, is one our whole region will benefit from.”
The development’s central hub will be called ‘Village Center,’ which will include the arena, shops, restaurants, multifamily homes and office space.
The arena is planned to be the greenest arena venue in North America. It would be catered to touring concerts, family shows and potentially ECHL Hockey and G-League Basketball, according to the county.
The 2,420 residential units would include multifamily homes over retail space, single-family homes, townhomes, villas, senior multi-family homes and senior villas. Some affordable units would be developed into each of the housing types, according to ‘GreenCity.’
Developers said they will work to set standards of net-zero energy, net-zero water and best sustainability practices in waste management for the 204 acre ‘GreenCity.’
Henrico County said the development process will begin in early 2021, when Formal GreenCity, LLC will submit its plans and apply to rezone the site to Urban Mixed-Use.
Commercial office space and some housing is slated to open in 2023. The ‘Village Center’ and additional residential space is set to open in 2024. The arena is slated to open in 2025.
The complete development is projected to open by 2033.
Watch the full press conference below: