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Mayor Backs Richmond Coliseum Redevelopment Plan

Richmond Coliseum

Richmond mayor Levar Stoney is backing a $1.4-billion development proposal that calls for redevelopment of the Richmond Coliseum site and the construction of a new arena. 

The Richmond Coliseum redevelopment plan comes as officials try to determine the future of the aging venue, which opened in 1971. Under a proposal from NH District Corp–a group led by Dominion Energy CEO Thomas F. Farrell II–a roughly 10-block area north of Richmond’s Broad Street would be redeveloped to feature several amenities, including a new 17,500-seat arena. That venue, a replacement of the Coliseum, would factor into a much larger development plan in the area that includes 2,800 apartments, a 527-room hotel, GRTC bus transfer station, and a mix of retail, dining, and office space.

With Stoney’s endorsement in place, the proposal is now expected go before the Richmond City Council for its consideration. A tax increment financing (TIF) district would be created to back a $300-million city contribution to the project, with new tax revenues within that area helping to pay off the debt over a period of 30 years. More from the Richmond Times Dispatch:

As Stoney described the project he called a “game changer” for the city and its residents, Farrell and other NH District representatives looked on and applauded.

“The mayor had big ambitions, very worthy goals. We were very happy through these months of negotiations that we were able to satisfy his goals and finance the project,” Farrell said in an interview after the announcement.

Farrell, who said he did not have a financial stake in the proposal, declined to name the private sources NH District is working with to front $1.1 billion for the deal. Private investment will cover the costs of most of the commercial pieces of the project. The $220 million arena, a $10 million renovation of the Blues Armory, and infrastructure improvements including changes to Leigh Street will be paid for using revenue bonds underwritten by a special tax zone.

The zone, called a tax-increment-financing district, or TIF, would capture new tax revenues and redirect them from the city’s general fund to pay down the debt used to finance the public portion of the arena deal.

In the current concept, the new Richmond arena would represent not only a more modern venue than the Richmond Coliseum, but a larger one as well. The Coliseum can accommodate roughly 13,000 people, while the proposed new Richmond arena would be the largest of its kind in Virginia. Should the plan move forward, Richmond could use the new arena to lure large events to the city–perhaps including concerts, sports tournaments, and more.

Image courtesy Richmond Coliseum.

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