Mayor calls plan to build new Richmond arena, revamp Navy Hill a ‘game changer’

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced he is working on a plan to redevelop the Navy Hill neighborhood north of Broad Street in downtown Richmond.

His redevelopment plan would create 21,000 jobs and result in a state-of-the-art arena that will be the largest in Virginia.

In addition to the jobs and a new arena, the mayor's plan also includes affordable 680 housing units, a new downtown transfer center for GRTC buses, a new 'upscale' 500-room hotel near the convention center, and the restoration of the historic Blues Armory.

The city has agreed, in principle, with a nonprofit group called the NH District Corporation who will lead the revitalization of the North of Broad development.

“With this project, we will leverage private investment and underutilized city assets in our downtown, to maximize growth that will benefit everyone in our city,” said Mayor Stoney said at a Thursday afternoon press conference.

The plan, Stoney said, would be the "Largest Economic Empowerment Project" in the history of Richmond.

“This project represents a $1.4 billion investment that does not raise taxes and does not incur financial risk to the city,” he added.

Stoney says the redevelop plan will generate an additional $1 billion in additional tax revenue over the next 30 years. He says that revenue will be used to better Richmond neighborhoods, schools, and core services.

"Richmond is one very large step closer to not only transforming its downtown, but the future of neighborhoods, schools, and services throughout the city," Mayor Stoney said.

"The project will include more than $300 million in contracts for minority businesses," Mayor Stoney said. "This will ensure our talented minority contractors are in the game and not on the sidelines."

Stoney said the new arena would allow Richmond to compete with major cities like Charlotte and Nashville for major events and the revenues they bring.

"For me, this is not about a new Coliseum. This is about what this project allows us to do. If we do nothing we do not create over 20,000 jobs," Mayor Stoney said. "If we do nothing we will not build nearly 700 new affordable homes. If we do nothing we will not generate a billion dollars in revenue that can be used to make critical investments in our neighborhoods – our schools, our streets, and our services."

The mayor said he planned to submit ordinances to Richmond City Council once his administration is able to resolve "several outstanding details.

"I encourage City Council to take the time it needs to review this agreement once it is submitted, and I encourage the public to ask questions of the developer and of my administration. Everyone will have the chance to kick the tires, as we have. I am excited about embarking on this process, and what we can accomplish for our city together," said Stoney.

The 46-year-old Richmond Coliseum is currently costing tax payers more than $1.5 million every year to keep open, according to Stoney.

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