RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)—Monday night brought out hundreds of citizens to city hall for public comment on Mayor Dwight Jones’ Shockoe Bottom baseball stadium proposal.
After five hours of discourse council members voted 6-3 in favor of the resolution, which only supports further negotiations on the Shockoe Bottom plan. Next the mayor works on a final proposal to present, likely in a month.
Voting against the resolution were Charles Samuels, Reva Trammell, and Parker Agelasto. Voting in favor were Ellen Robertson, Jonathan Baliles, Chris Hilbert, Kathy Graziano, Cynthia Newbille, and Michelle Mosby.
Revitalize RVA is the name for the entire proposal, which includes development of Shockoe Bottom and North Boulevard. The cost, not to exceed $79,625,000, includes a new baseball stadium; a Slavery and Freedom Heritage Site; private mixed use, commercial, retail, and residential development; and related public infrastructure improvements.
Resolution No. 2014-R29 can be read here in its entirety.
Three council members Samuels, Newbille and Baliles introduced amendments to the resolution on Monday.
None of Samuels' four amendments passed, which could be due-- as he underscored --to the fact that his changes would delay the plan.
One was to include a new traffic study (after the mayor’s study came under fire). One was for an archaeological excavation before the project begins.
One was a call for a concise redevelopment plan for the Boulevard. The last was some type of contract that holds developers responsible and keeps taxpayers off the hook for extra charges, this was similar to Baliles, concerning performance guarantees from developers, which did pass.
His amendments were struck down, 4-5. In favor were Samuels, Hilbert, Agelasto, and Trammell. Against were Newbille, Robertson, Baliles, Graziano, and Mosby.
Baliles introduced an amendment of financial guarantee. His amendment was to create a language that keeps tax payers from being stuck with the tab. His amendment was passed unanimously.
Baliles requested that amendments that put a level of responsibility on developers, with performance guarantees and personal bonds suggested. This passed unanimously.
Newbille's proposed amendment requests firm financial commitment to pay for the slave heritage site, before council offers final approval to any other parts of the Revitalize RVA plan. This was passed unanimously.
Both sides were given one hour during the comment period and each person was allotted two minutes. The turnout was big enough to warrant an overflow room, after people were turned away at the door.
Hundreds followed along online, via the CBS 6 livestream and also on Twitter. You can read #RVACouncil to catch up on a long night of debate and comedy.
"Tonight’s vote was a vote to support our efforts to find ways to generate new tax revenue for our city, to create jobs and opportunity, and to honor our heritage," Mayor Jones said after the vote in a press release, that thanks council members for their hard work over the past few months.
"Ultimately, I’m hoping that we can bring a final proposal forward that will generate willingness from all to embrace growth and to use culture as a bridge rather than a barrier," he concluded.