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'No casino' rally brings dozens of Richmond residents together: 'We’re going to fight this all the way'

Posted at 12:33 PM, Apr 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-26 12:34:07-04

RICHMOND, Va.-- Dozens of Richmonders brought signs and cow bells to the corner of North Arthur Ashe Boulevard and West Leigh Street in Scott’s Addition Monday morning to protest a casino proposal at the site of Bow Tie Cinemas.

“I think this would be a huge, huge mistake," said Kerthy Hearn, who has lived on West Grace Street for 36 years.

Hearn is worried the 1.9 million-square-foot casino would negatively impact local businesses that she says have worked years to make their homes in Scott's Addition.

“The casino is going to take money out of the city," Hearn explained. "It’s not going to benefit small businesses; it’s not going to benefit neighborhoods."

Longtime resident of The Fan Jonathan Marcus also fears a casino would hurt the community, and he claims nine out of the `18 neighborhoods in the area have released statements against the proposal, including the Fan District Association and Historic West Grace Center.

“The opposition to this proposal has been that broad and that deep," said Marcus. "The traffic alone, there’s a lot of talk about development on Arthur Ashe boulevard between here and I-95. That alone is going to overwhelm the street, but a casino, which is designed to bring in thousands of people on weekends, doesn’t fit with the traffic program."

But not everyone is against the plans for Live Casino & Hotel Richmond. Over the weekend, the Scott's Addition Boulevard Association released a statement explaining they will be taking a position of non-opposition after a 10-9 split vote.

The Cordish Company, which is proposing the casino, explained during an April 7 virtual meeting with the Scott’s Addition Boulevard Association that the upscale hotel and convention center would be a catalyst for the neighborhood.

“We think this has the greatest opportunity to not only generate taxes for the city, but also to generate spin off economic development for the area around us," noted Cordish developer, Rob Norton.

But some neighbors in Scott's Addition said they will continue to "say no to a casino" in Scott's Addition -- or anywhere in the River City.

"It may bring in some tax dollars, but Arthur Ashe is going to develop anyway, and the successful parts of the city have developed organically," Hearn explained. "I think that’s what we want. We’re going to fight this all the way."

On Election Day in November, Richmond voters will decide whether or not they want a casino in the city, but Richmond City Council is still working to decide which of two proposals will have a shot at development.