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Richmonders react to resolution asking Stoney to withdraw Navy Hill plans

Richmonders react to resolution asking Stoney to withdraw Navy Hill plans
Posted at 5:38 PM, Jan 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-28 21:23:16-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- In a resolution, five of the nine Richmond City Council members called on Mayor Levar Stoney to withdraw ordinances related to the Navy Hill project.

Stoney insisted he will continue pursuing the $1.5 billion proposal to transform the downtown area.

"Of course we aren’t going to withdraw the resolution. That’s not going to happen," Stoney told reporters outside of Monday's City Council meeting. "I think it’s laughable."

The resolution is backed by Councilwoman Kristen Larson (4th District), Councilwoman Kimberly Gray (2nd District), Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch (5th District), Council Vice President Chris Hilbert, and Councilwoman Reva Trammell (8th District).

Reva Trammell (8th District)

"The citizens don’t think it’s laughable I tell you that right now," Trammell stated. "It’s going to bankrupt the city and that’s what my seniors are saying."

In 2019, Stoney proposed the project that he said would replace the Coliseum, bring in new jobs and more affordable housing to the area. The Navy Hill plan centers on 10 blocks from 5th to 10th streets and from Marshall to Leigh streets.

"All this comes down to is they don’t want to be on the record for saying no to 2,000 CoStar jobs," Stoney responded. "They don’t want to be on the record to saying for saying no to $300 million of investment to black and brown businesses."

Mayor Levar Stoney

Chelsea Higgs Wise, a community activist in Richmond, called the proposal "desperate" and rushed.

"I'm really excited and proud of the five city councilmembers that came out together to say, 'Lets put an end to this nonsense," Higgs Wise stated. "It never seemed to be a plan for the people and only a plan for corporate developers."

Higgs Wise supported the resolution's request to once again ask interested companies and groups to submit proposals on what to do with the city's Coliseum and surrounding blocks.

The previous "RFP," or request for proposal, illicited one response by NH District Corp., a development group led by Dominion Energy CEO Tom Farrell. The group released a statement saying the resolution could discredit the City of Richmond’s business reputation for years to come.

“It’s unfortunate that instead of looking for ways to improve the Navy Hill proposal, these Councilmembers are putting their heads in the sand and hoping that the City’s problems resolve themselves,” said a spokesperson.

In January, a group of local faith leaders held a press conference expressing their support for Stoney's plan.

"When I first heard about the plan I was excited," said Rev. Dr. Patricia Gould-Champ. She leads Faith Community Baptist Church in East Highland Park.

Dr. Gould-Champ believed the Navy Hill proposal would help the citizens in the city.

"I think it's past time for something big and major that will bless a great diversity of people to happen," she explained. "I believe there's great potential."

City Council is expected to vote on the plans on February 24.