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Henrico announces plan for a new arena and $2 billion development off I-95

Posted at 5:07 PM, Dec 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-01 23:25:09-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- The Navy Hill development, which included a 17,000-seat sports arena and was rejected by the City of Richmond, may end up in Henrico County under a new name.

GreenCity is slated to be a $2.3 billion development with homes, offices, and that arena designed to attract concerts and sporting events that sometimes bypass Central Virginia.

The proposed site is 93-acres of county-owned land between I-95 and East Parham Road -- the former headquarters of Best Products.

“We are thrilled to endorse this bold, visionary opportunity as it is in sync with everything that Henrico County stands for and has been working hard to achieve – inclusion, resiliency, mobility, innovation, and job growth,” County Manager John A. Vithoulkas said. “We’re talking about a new kind of community that is intricately planned, inclusive for all and thoughtfully designed to be not only livable but also to set new standards for environmental sustainability."

The GreenCity project includes some of those involved in the failed Navy Hill proposal. Vithoulkas said after Navy Hill was rejected by the city, Susan Eastridge and Michael Hallmark came to him asking if the county had a suitable site.

"GreenCity will be a community that preserves, embraces, and showcases open space, and it will drive economic development and tourism in new and exciting ways while remaining respectful to county taxpayers," Vithoulkas said. "The arena will put this region back on the entertainment map. It also will provide tremendous benefits to our county while creating no financial risk to our taxpayers.”

Sandra Larkins, who lives just down the road from the proposed site, believes the proposed project is long overdue but has concerns that it could create traffic.

It would be nice to have basketball games going on, professional teams coming in town, maybe we can even get one," Larkins said. “Hurry up, get it here.”

Fairfield District Supervisor Frank Thornton said the most important aspect of the plan is that it was people focused.

"They have assembled a group of contractors and subcontractors that is diverse and inclusive," Thornton said. "Thirty percent of these represent minority-owned businesses."

Developers said the project would take up to 12 years to complete.

It would be funded by private investment and the creation of a community development authority that would sell bonds. County leaders said taxes from GreenCity should retire the debt within 30 years, after which GreenCity could generate more than $20-million a year for the county's general fund.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, who championed the similar Navy Hill plan in Richmond, congratulated Henrico on the project.

“Obviously, Mayor Stoney believed an arena-anchored mixed-use redevelopment was a great opportunity to redevelop downtown and generate revenues and benefits for the City. Henrico’s announcement today shows that this vision had merit - and the Mayor wishes them well and he’s glad that the region will benefit," Stoney's Chief of Staff Lincoln Saunders said. "But the city still has many opportunities in front of us and over the next four years you can expect the Mayor to BOLDLY pursue each and every one them.”