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Community activist questions plans in Stoney’s Coliseum proposal: ‘Tell us simply’

Posted at 2:30 PM, Apr 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-17 17:12:27-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Two years after Mayor Levar Stoney and Richmond City Council voted to create a task force to look into a coliseum redevelopment plan, a community activist says residents still need answers.

Paul Goldman, a former adviser to L. Douglas Wilder and lawyer, held a press conference Wednesday in reference to Mayor Levar Stoney's Richmond Coliseum proposal.

Goldman has been a vocal critic of the plan and has filed a lawsuit to get more information on the proposed $1.4 billion plan.

In a response sent to Mr. Goldman, that was obtained by WTVR CBS 6, the Department of Planning & Economic Development said:

"The City continues to be actively engaged in ongoing contract negotiations with the Respondent and has not made a decision to “award or not to award” a resulting contract. Release of the Proposal (or portions thereof) during such negotiations would “adversely affect the [City’s] bargaining position or negotiating strategy” and, therefore, the records responsive to your request are being withheld from disclosure pursuant to Va. Code Section 2.2-3705.1(12) at this time. "

The mayor and the group behind the proposal, NH District Corporation, said the plan would transform downtown and replace the coliseum.

However, details within the plan have not been released and Goldman argues tax payers deserve to know the facts.

"Just tell us simply, hold a press conference: What’s your legal structure -- no doubts. Are you applying for something or are you not applying for something?" Goldman said. "Simple question, no mystery. That’s all we’re trying do -- and for some reason we got into a stone wall. I don’t understand."

Officials with the NH District said the project has three "key goals:"

  1.  to create economic opportunity: new jobs, training, and minority business growth;
  2. to create additional housing in the heart of the city, including housing that low and moderate income Richmonders can afford; and,
  3. to create new revenue that supports our schools.

"Many citizens often ask how our city can achieve those goals, and we created the NH District Corporation to help meet them. NH District Corp. operates well within Virginia and federal law, and we expect it will soon receive its designation as a 501(c)(3) non-profit.

As many who operate or engage with non-profits know, 501(c)(3) is a tax status granted by the IRS, and many organizations are up and running before such designation is granted. There’s nothing new or unusual about that.

We remain excited about the opportunity the Navy Hill project offers everyone in our city," says Jeff Kelley, NH District Rep.

Mayor Stoney’s office also responded saying, “The proposal is still being negotiated. We will not move forward with ordinances to city council unless and until all the “I’s” are dotted and the “T’s” are crossed and the benefits of the project and protections for the city are guaranteed in writing."

As far as the the lawsuit in question, the mayor’s spokesperson said they are not going to comment on pending litigation.