Richmond Coliseum to be fenced up, homeless people living on sidewalks forced out

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Three years after Richmond’s Coliseum was shuttered, the city moves to demolish the decades-old structure and revitalize a blighted city block. But the preparation work for an urban renewal project slated for the city’s center is also prompting people without housing who live around the building to relocate.

Now, metal posts are going up around the Coliseum and soon a fence will wrap around the entire block. The soon-to-be-installed fence will prevent anyone, including people who have been living on those sidewalks, from getting close.

The building used to be a hub for sports and entertainment but since 2018, it has been dark and unused.

If Richmond’s ‘City Center Small Area’ plan passes, the entire structure will be demolished with no plans for a new arena to take its place. Instead, Richmond says private development and an open public space will fill the area.

While the potential demolition is further ahead in Richmond’s future, people living in tents outside of the building are looking for answers now.

Terrence Dickerson has been sleeping outside of the former Coliseum for three months. He tells 8News that the city hasn’t provided many details about the plans aside from information flyers about relocating.

“They haven’t really [given] us a deadline of when they’re going to do it,” Dickerson said.

He says if they are still living there when the fence goes up, he fears he could be arrested and charged with trespassing.

Dickerson sees the move to push people out of the area as personal.

“It’s a double-edged sword, I guess they’ve got a point they’re trying to prove. Right? They don’t want us here. So, it’s time to go,” he said.

A spokesperson for the mayor’s office says it’s “imperative“ people take up their offers to help relocate.

The city’s homeless services liaison says they have helped reduce the number of tents from 23 to seven over the last two months. The liaison says those people are now in shelters with some attending alcohol, substance abuse and mental health programs.

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