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Richmond City Council Scraps Plan To Surplus All Of Navy Hill Land, Coliseum

richmond coliseum
Richmond planned to redevelop the now-closed Richmond Coliseum as part of the original Navy Hill deal. (Crixell Matthews/VPM)

Richmond City Council will not look to redevelop the Coliseum and surrounding Navy Hill neighborhood, at least for now. 

The City Council had been looking to declare properties surplus that were formerly included in the proposed Navy Hill project, as well as other city-owned buildings on Broad Street. Instead, it  will only look to surplus, or sell off, the defunct Public Safety Building near City Hall. Surplusing is a technical first step that allows city officials to get new proposals and bids from developers.

The City Council was expected to amend the resolution removing nine of the properties and vote to surplus the Public Safety Building on Monday. But Fourth District City Councilwoman Kristen Larson moved to delay the final vote to June 12th, so that the public has time to review it.

Larson and other council members have repeatedly cautioned the group about including the public in decision making, something many critics said was lacking in the original Navy Hill proposal. 

“We did not get it right the first time,” Larson recently told VPM. “I want to see this land developed and we have an opportunity to get it right, but we don’t want to make some of the mistakes that were made before.”

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney proposed the original Navy Hill deal last year after more than a year of negotiations with the developer, NH District Corp. The Stoney administration proposed funding the development of a new arena with an 80-block special taxing district in downtown. In exchange, NH District Corp. would have put a number of parking lots and city-owned land near the Coliseum back on the tax rolls, developing more than $1 billion in apartments, offices, and retail space.

An independent commission issued a report, saying a new downtown arena was not “a sound public investment.” The Richmond City Council formally rejected the deal back in February. 

Since then, the city has received two unsolicited offers from developers. 

In February D.C.-based developer Douglas Jemal offered to buy the Coliseum and surrounding properties for $15 million shortly after the city council voted down Mayor Levar Stoney’s $1.5 billion proposals. Jemal said he planned to renovate the Coliseum and turn surrounding properties into a mix of residential and retail space. His proposal was similar to the original project, but would not require the city to put its own money into redeveloping the Coliseum through tax increment financing.

Capital City Partners, a firm closely tied to the original Navy Hill development group NH District Corp, made a second unsolicited offer last month. It’s offering the city roughly $3.2 million in exchange for Richmond’s Public Safety Building. The firm wants to build a $350 million development anchored by a 20-story tower for Virginia Commonwealth University’s Health administration.

If the Richmond City Council votes to surplus the Public Safety Building on June 12, the city’s acting Chief Administrative Officer Lenora Reid will be responsible for issuing a new request for proposals. 


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