Richmond, Va. (WRIC) — The One Casino + Resort by Urban One is now in the hands of Richmond City Council. Mayor Levar Stoney and Director of Economic Development Leonard Sledge presented the plan at a meeting on Monday night.
Sledge said if the proposed casino is approved by City Council and given the final green light by voters, its targeted opening date would be Dec. 31, 2023.
“The ball is now in your court, Madam President,” Stoney, who supports the casino, said during the meeting.
Last week, the casino was selected as the preferred proposal by an evaluation panel, beating out five other companies vying to develop a casino in Richmond.
The project, which would be built in South Richmond at Walmsley Blvd. and Commerce Road off Interstate 95, is estimated to generate more than $171 million in five years, including a $25 million upfront payment to the city.
Stoney believes that the casino would help Richmond recover from the COVID-19 Pandemic, saying the revenue would “provide increased funding for schools, for affordable housing, for services for our citizens and for much-needed infrastructure upgrades.”
One Casino + Resort would include a 250-room luxury hotel, 55 acres of parks and greenspace open to the public, a 3,000 seat theater and broadcast production studios which would enhance Richmond’s growing film and television production industry, according to Stoney.
The mayor also spoke about the 1,500 jobs the casino would create. Urban One has committed to hiring local residents for 60 percent of jobs and minorities for 40 percent of jobs.
“Employees will earn a minimum of $15 an hour, regardless of whether or not they are working in a tipped or non-tipped position,” Stoney said.
Sledge took council members through the City’s agreement with Urban One. He explained the company’s commitment to the community, which would include $16 million towards local community organizations over the first 10 years, up to $200,000 annually to fund support for problem gambling and $325,000 annually towards mobility solutions for the commute of casino employees.
He also emphasized Urban One’s commitment to supporting local Richmond businesses. The company said it will create a local business rewards program at the casino and source thousands of dollars in art from Richmond artists.
The casino has also said it will support local restauranteurs in its 15 food and beverage options. “We’ve negotiated that 50 percent of the non-sit down restaurants will be local Richmond restaurants,” Sledge added.
Councilwoman Reva Trammell described her reaction to hearing One Casino + Resort was selected as the final proposal. It would be located in the City’s 8th District, which she represents.
“I was just so happy, just full of joy because I knew this is what my people wanted,” she said.
Sledge asked that City Council make a decision about whether to move the proposal forward at their June 14 meeting.
If approved by Council, Richmond residents will get to vote “yes” or “no” in a referendum on the Nov. 2 ballot.
On Tuesday at 6 p.m., there is a virtual meeting for citizens to learn more about the proposal and next steps. Click here to join.
To view Monday’s City Council meeting, click here.