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Navy Hill Commission Brings On Two New ‘Expert Advisors’

Downtown Richmond Coliseum
Downtown Richmond Coliseum (Crixell Matthews/VPM)

The Navy Hill Development Advisory Commission, the group tasked with vetting the proposed $1.5 billion downtown redevelopment deal, is bringing on two “expert advisors,” according to the commission’s vice-chair.

On Monday, Richmond City Council voted to put the president of Virginia Union University on the commission over IRS analyst Richard Crom. The seating of VUU President Hakim Lucas was criticized by some council members for  previously endorsing the redevelopment deal. Council members also expressed concerns about removing Crom, given that he was the only nominee that is a certified accountant.

But Navy Hill Commission Vice-Chair John Gerner said Wednesday that Crom has agreed to stay on as an advisor.

“We are just beginning our work and right now we don’t know all of the very specific questions we will ultimately have,” Gerner said. “Right now the goal is to collect this group of knowledgeable experts that are willing to contribute.”

Gerner also announced a second expert advisor to the commission this week. 

David Merriman, a public administration professor at the University of Illinois, has offered to work with the commission to answer questions related to what is known as tax increment financing. The city is proposing to utilize this kind of special taxing zone to secure a $350 million loan for building a new downtown coliseum.

Merriman has written extensively about tax increment financing. He produced a 72-page report last year for The Lincoln Institute  titled “Improving Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for Economic Development.”

The Navy Hill Development Advisory Commission will now have 90 days to provide a report to Richmond City Council.

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