RICHMOND, Va. -- Nine months after he announced his plan to build a new arena in downtown Richmond and redevelop the existing neighborhood around the current Richmond Coliseum, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney formally introduced to Richmond City Council the ordinances that would help that redevelopment possible. You can read the ordinances here.
Mayor Stoney previously stated the $1.5 billion, five-year project would bring more than 20,000 jobs -- including construction jobs -- to the city.
Under the mayor's Navy Hill Project proposal, a new hotel, a GRTC bus transit center, affordable apartments, and a new arena would be built along a 10-block area between 5th to 10th streets, and Marshall to Leigh streets.
"It’s time to give our city and its residents a venue they deserve and the economic opportunities that come with it," Stoney said.
Over the past 17 months, the city administration has worked with The NH District Corporation and developer Capital City Partners to negotiate the plans. Stoney promised taxes would not be raised to fund the project. He said construction costs would be paid by private investors.
"It is always been my commitment to the city that the taxpayers of Richmond will not be on the hook under any circumstances," Stoney explained.
In order to pay for the project, Stoney said tax revenues generated from the project will be used to pay for the new arena and bond investors will bear the financial risk.
"We think it is the best possible deal for Richmonders and we really are excited to show everyone what the future of this neighborhood could be," NH District Corp. spokesperson Jeff Kelley said. "We’ve vetted this things many, many times over and over and over again. We’re relieved to have it in front of them. We’re ready to answer questions."
Richmond City Council members said they were eager to read the details.
"I want to make sure that as council we take our time to make a decision, because you only get to make your first decision once," Michael Jones, 9th District Councilman, said. "I want to make sure that taxpayer money doesn’t go towards this. I want to ensure and see the impact of the TIF districts, what they actually are."
"We need to make sure that we look at everything and it’s clearly communicated and shared with the public and vetted publicly as well," Kristen Nye Larson, 4th District Councilwoman, said.
Paul Goldman, a community activist and former adviser to former Richmond Mayor Doug Wilder, was skeptical of Mayor Stoney's promises.
"This is a continuation of him taking more of your money and spending it on projects that the public doesn’t want," Goldman said. "I had to sue to get see the basic documents."
In May, a Richmond judge ordered the city to hand Goldman a portion of the arena proposal after he sued Stoney's administration.
Richmond City Council will vote on the proposal after a public hearing is scheduled.