HOLMBERG: Baseball field is also about a floodplain solution
Why a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom?
The best answer can be found in these questions:
What’s really below the supposed slave burial ground?
What’s the reason behind all those empty lots and acres in the lowest district in center city?
And why does Shockoe Bottom smell like a sewer year round?
Because it sits on top of the biggest sewer in metro Richmond.
More precisely sits on and beside old Shockoe Creek, which served as open sewer for east Richmond and Fulton for generations, dumping our waste into the James River.
It was eventually covered over with a gigantic arched tunnel connected to the sewage treatment plant, and the river. (The site called the slave burial ground sits directly above that arched tunnel.)
When that tunnel-creek gets clogged or too full during huge rains – think Gaston . . . lookout!
Despite our $143 milllion floodwall, that area is a floodplain.
All those empty acres and old, grandfathered buildings down there haven’t been developed because of that.
No single landowner or developer could afford to fix all the underground problems to satisfy FEMA.
But site work for the stadium would have to deal with that. Elevations would change. New and better drainage tunnels established.
That would open the doors for the rest of the low land to be developed.
Long-dead Ambler Street could be developed, as well as the rest of the lower acres.
Landowners down there, most notably the Loving family and the city of Richmond, could cash in, in addition to the developers like David White and H. Louis Salomonsky who already own a lot of property in the area. The two recently bought the Weiman’s Bakery that sits on the land of the proposed plan.
David White, who has multiple business ventures with Salomonsky, and his son have been named as the developers of the planned 750 apartments that come with the Shockoe plan.
The site work would also open the door for a slavery museum to finally be built where it belongs.
The stadium would be built by Economic Development Authority, just like Redskins park, with money coming from various sources, including those developers who would profit.
And an actual big shopping destination – central Richmond doesn’t really have one – could be built in the old stadium area.
It’s a legacy move by a mayor who has managed to get a much-need jail built after a long list of mayors couldn’t; a mayor who is finally getting some new schools built in the city.
A mayor who has gotten things done because of a switch to a strong-mayor system that, ironically, he was against.
The man who engineered that strong mayor system, noted political strategist Paul Goldman, said the mayor may be doing some right things – but he’s doing them the wrong way.
And know one of the key reasons why the stadium plan doesn’t stink – it could take the smell out of Shockoe Bottom.