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Proposed Richmond Coliseum Redevelopment Unveiled

Richmond Coliseum redevelopment rendering

The Richmond City Council was presented a proposed $1.5 billion Richmond Coliseum redevelopment project that includes a new arena Monday, launching an important review process.

NH District Corp–a group led by Dominion Energy CEO Thomas F. Farrell II–is proposing a $1.5-billion redevelopment of a roughly 10-block area in downtown Richmond that includes the Coliseum site. Current plans call for the construction of a new 17,500-seat arena, which would be surrounded by a slate of amenities that includes a high-rise hotel, a renovated Blues Armory, 1-million square feet of commercial and office space, 260,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space, 2,500 apartments, and more. The new arena would be owned by the Richmond Economic Development Authority (EDA), with NH District to handle operations and maintenance as part of a lease agreement.

Richmond mayor Levar Stoney has signaled his support for the project, but the city council will have to review it before deciding whether or not to move it forward. Stoney’s administration presented the council with details on the plan Monday, yielding information such as anticipated public costs–proposed to be backed by tax increment financing (TIF)–for construction of the new arena and infrastructure improvements in the area where the development is to unfold. This gave the city council an opportunity to see the information first hand, but its decision is likely months away. More from the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Public dollars would build a new arena and improve infrastructure in the roughly 10-block area bounded by Leigh, Fifth, Marshall and 10th streets where the development is slated to rise.

The EDA would issue $350 million in non-recourse revenue bonds to cover those costs. Stoney and the city’s financial advisers, Davenport & Co., say the financing will not negatively affect Richmond’s bond rating or debt capacity, but rather could improve the city’s capacity to borrow money for other capital projects in the long run.

Likewise, Stoney has said the deal poses “no risk” to city taxpayers; he did not attend Monday’s meeting of the council after calling a news conference last week to announce he was moving forward with the deal.

Debt service on the bonds would be $476 million if the city pays the money back in 21 years, according to the Davenport & Co. analysis. It would cost more if the city takes the full 30 years to pay off the bonds.

If it moves forward, the project would result in the demolition of Richmond Coliseum, which first opened in 1971. The proposed scope of the new arena positions it to the largest of its kind in the state of Virginia, and it could be a draw for events such as concerts, sports tournaments, and more.

Rendering courtesy NH District Corp.

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