City Council Committee Approves Transfer of Ownership Prior to Sale and Demolition of Richmond Coliseum | Richmond Local News
The Richmond Economic Development Authority may soon have 12 months to demolish the Richmond Coliseum as part of the city’s plans to sell and redevelop the gated downtown property.
Following the recent introduction of legislation to transfer ownership of 7 acres under a co-operative agreement with the EDA, the City Council’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Development voted 2 to 1 on Thursday to approve the bill before the council’s final vote scheduled for Monday.
Council members Ellen Robertson and Michael Jones supported it, while Councilor Kristen Nye voted against, saying she was concerned about the timing of the transfer of ownership.
If approved, the EDA would have six months to launch a competitive solicitation process to sell and redevelop the property within the next 42 months.
Leonard Sledge, the city’s director of economic development, said Thursday the redevelopment would be based on downtown plans the city council passed in January.
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“EDA’s interests are absolutely aligned with those of the city,” he said. “We want to see high-quality redevelopment happen on the site in accordance with the vision that has been set out by the city in the small area plan,” he said.
The plan covers an area generally bounded by East Franklin Street to East Leigh Street and North 5th Street to North 10th Street.
The main goals of the city plan are to rezone and sell surplus city-owned properties to encourage growth, redevelop vacant and underutilized private and public properties, and create a new “high-tech” high school. . The plan also calls for new zoning designations with “unlimited height and density” for new development.
Conceptual illustrations of what a potential redevelopment of the area might look like include new hotels and entertainment venues, government facilities, apartment buildings, a central plaza and a linear park spanning several city blocks along along Clay Street from the Greater Richmond Convention Center to Ninth Street.
The city marketed the plan as an opportunity to create a so-called “innovation hub” with VCU Health, Reynolds Community College, and the VA Bio+Tech Park as anchors for the central downtown district.
While five council members have signed up as co-sponsors of the legislation, all transfers of city-owned property need at least seven council votes to pass.
In addition to Robertson and Jones, the bill’s bosses include Council Speaker Cynthia Newbille, Andreas Addison and Ann-Frances Lambert.
Nye said she was generally in favor of the town center redevelopment, but said she would prefer the council to start considering offers for the coliseum project before transferring ownership to the EDA. She said transferring it now would strip the board of control and oversight of the project.
“I think as a city we need to be aware of our assets and the enormous value they hold. So transferring it now when the process hasn’t started…it makes me feel bad. comfortable,” she said.
However, Robertson, who represents the district where the Colosseum is located, said she was eager to transfer ownership and begin the project.
“It’s the heart of our city. And it’s one of the most degraded neighborhoods in our city. And moving him to EDA is the right thing to do,” she said. “The board will always have a meaningful involvement in this process.”
The potential downtown rezoning and sale of the Coliseum comes about 21 months after Richmond City Council shot down Navy Hill’s $1.5 billion redevelopment plan for downtown. This plan called for a new 17,500-seat arena as the anchor for a massive redevelopment project that would have included new apartments, a high-rise hotel and the renovation of the historic Blues Armory.
Both council and residents opposed the project due to concerns about project funding.
The city has since taken a piecemeal approach to redevelopment of the area, beginning with the $3.5 million sale of the Public Safety Building.
A development team originally proposed to redevelop the site as part of a $325 million project with VCU Health, the Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Doorways, but plans for a 20-story skyscraper have since decreases.
Meanwhile, city officials are evaluating plans to replace The Diamond baseball stadium on Arthur Ashe Boulevard as part of a major redevelopment project about 3.5 miles west of downtown.
The city recently announced that it will ask three development teams for plans and more specific details on their vision for the so-called Diamond District which covers nearly 70 acres.
Officials say they expect city council to vote to finalize a deal with a partner for the project later this summer.
PHOTOS: Richmond Coliseum