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City Council holds first work session to take ‘deep-dive into details’ of Navy Hill Project

Posted at 6:55 PM, Sep 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-23 23:59:21-04

RICHMOND, Va. —In a contentious start to council meetings on the proposed Navy Hill Redevelopment Project, the Richmond City Council voted Monday evening to appoint seven people to a review panel that will advise council on the  $1.5 billion dollar plan to redevelop the Richmond Coliseum and surrounding area.

The session featured presentations from members of Mayor Levar Stoney’s administration and representatives of the developers behind the project who gave an overview of the proposed plan.

The $1.5-billion plan would, among other things, bring a new hotel, a GRTC bus transit center, apartments with affordable housing and a replacement for the Richmond Coliseum. The project will be funded through private investment and non-recourse revenue bonds.

The council voted down the nomination of Richard Crom, the only certified public accountant among the nominees.  Council members Kim Gray and Park Agelesto both expressed remorse over the council's decision to turn down his nomination.

"This is really messy, really inappropriate and unprofessional," Gray said.

The council voted in favor for the nomination of Dr. Hakim J. Lucas, the President of Virginia Union University.  Lucas' nomination was criticized by some council members because of a recent editorial where Lucas expressed support for the Navy Hill Project.

But other council members, including 9th District Councilman Mike Jones, say Lucas' appointment is important for diversity on the panel.

Other appointed members to the panel include:

  • Mark M. Gordon- A former Bon Secours Health executive
  • Grindly R. Johnson- Virginia's deputy secretary of administration
  • Suzanne S. Long- Partner, Meyer, Baldwin, Long and Moore
  • Mary Harding Sadler- historical architect- Sadler and Whitehead Architects
  • Michael J. Schewel, a former secretary of commerce and trade
  • Corey D.B. Walker- professor at the University of Richmond

One council member who was in attendance was Kristen Larson, who represents the 4th District. She said one area she wants to look more into is the financial aspects of the deal.

"If the details and logistics and the structure of the financing don’t work, then, it could be the best-looking deal in the world and it doesn’t matter because the way we’ve set it up financially or legally, it wouldn’t make sense for the city.” said Larson.

9th District Councilmember Michael Jones said he, too, wants to take a look at the deal’s finances. He added that he also wants to make sure that the $300-million in contracts earmarked for women and minority-owned businesses goes to those groups and the project contracts, as a whole, stays local.

“I want to ensure that as this is done in the City of Richmond or if it’s done in the City of Richmond, how do Richmonders benefit from it? Not businesses from North Carolina, New York, Indianapolis,” said Jones.

The meetings are open to the public and will take place in the council chambers:

  • Monday, October 7, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Monday, October 14, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Monday, October 28, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Monday, November 4, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, November 12, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Monday, November 25, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Monday, December 2, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Monday, December 9, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.