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Developer’s sharply-worded letter indicates new ballpark plan a bust

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) –It doesn’t appear as though the city of Richmond currently has an alternative to Mayor Dwight Jones’ Shockoe baseball proposal, after a trio of Chesterfield developers sent a letter to City Council about their privately-funded proposal to build a new ballpark on the Boulevard.

They stop short of announcing that they won’t move forward with their proposal — which was never officially submitted — but the tone indicates there is no forward movement, and a certain amount of blame is placed on the Mayor’s determination to build the Shockoe ballpark.

Rebkee developers sent a copy of their letter to CBS 6 Reporter Melissa Hipolit (READ:Letter from developer Rebkee).

Two of those developers signed a letter to the Mayor and City Council on Monday, stating the Mayor made it “abundantly clear” that he does not want an alternative to his Shockoe Bottom plan.

The developers said they did not think that decision was in the best interest of the city, but would “respect that decision.”

“We did not rate the Boulevard location better than the Shockoe Bottom location, but recognized its advantages — the City already owns it and the majority of the public prefers the stadium remain on the Boulevard,” wrote Robert Hargett and Kevin McFadden in a letter to City Council.

“The Mayor had made it abundantly clear that he does not need or want an alternative in the event the land acquisition and developer contracts for the Shockoe Bottom projects do not materialize.”

City Council voted 5-4 last week to move money away from the Mayor’s plan after learning about the alternative proposal. That very close vote will cut $12 million from the proposed 2015 budget.

The mayor has two weeks to veto budget amendments, and then it would take six votes to override that veto.

The developers said last week, in a story first reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, that they would build a new baseball stadium on the Boulevard without using taxpayer dollars.

City Council member Jon Baliles introduced the six budget amendments to reallocate money away from the Shockoe Bottom proposal.

CBS 6 asked Baliles for his reaction to the alternative proposal being withdrawn.

“There’s always more than one option to a problem, and it is too bad that we’ve now lost an option that may end up being better for the city,” Baliles said.

Style Weekly obtained a letter from Jack Berry, the director of Venture Richmond, that questions Rebkee’s motives.

“Beware when a Chesterfield politician [Mr. Gecker] and a suburban strip shopping center developer from Midlothian [Rebkee] tell you they know what is best for your city,” Berry wrote in an email obtained by Style Weekly to the Venture Richmond board.

You can read that complete excerpt here. 



  • Glen Allen

    To Jack Berry: I do not recall Dan Gecker saying he knew what was better for the City of Richmond, he was simply part of a group of people that were planning to submit an option for the City to consider. It is interesting to see that he obviously intimidates you however…

  • Take Me Out to a Boulevard Baseball Game

    The voters would like an alternative to the Shockoe Bottom plan.

  • athynz

    I wonder how much the mayor “leaned” on the developers… And Mr. Berry why are you so afraid of these developers who are trying to help? Do they threaten something Mayor Jones promised you?

  • newafrikan77

    Us as New Afrikan/Afrikan people don’t want a ball park on our ancestors historical holocaust maafa area to be over shadowed for mayor jones and capitalistic partners of greed ..respect our ancestors keep it in the west end ..Nostadium in shockoe the fight continues

  • 4Redevelopment

    Regardless of where a new stadium lands, the Boulevard needs to be redeveloped. Parts of it today…specifically those controlled by the city are not well maintained, encourage pedestrian traffic or family safety and have become an eye sore for Richmond. It is prime for mixed use and would only enhance some of Richmonds assets close by…in addition to creating revenue for the city, shopping for the residents and additional jobs in the area. This could be a regional destination pulling traffic off I95 and be a huge positive impact on our city. Who better than a local Richmond developer to make this happen? Aren’t we the city that pushes buy/shop local?

  • Three Strikes

    Jack Berry is the most hypocritical person. He is on record stating we need to turn Shockoe Bottom into Short Pump. He lives in Henrico! He is calling caution on a team of successful developers who specialize in historic renovations (Interbake next to Redskin Field) who have one member that is from Chesterfield?

  • KeepNitReel

    The mayor obviously has a huge financial interest (gain) in having the ball park in Shockoe Bottom.

  • Friendly

    The Mayor needs to listen to what the people want. They are the ones that elected him. They don’t want to move the stadium. Period.

    • KeepNitReel

      The mayor is listening to the money not the people. Greed is behind all of this!!! When Greed is Involved, the people are always screed.

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