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eandslee

New Richmond Arena

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Nah.  No residential is necessary here.  

 

The area isn’t big enough to support enough residential to become livable with the services that make neighborhoods desirable.  100-200 people plopped down between a hospital, a valley, an interstate, courts buildings and the biotech park will achieve absolutely nothing.  It’s the worst place to house the economically challenged (affordable housing requirement) too.  If every developable lot left in the area had residential on it, the customer base would still be too small for it to be anything other than a food desert. 

It is 100% acceptable for the civic center of a city to be just that. 

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Ideally it would be mixed use and have mixed-income housing.   Just because it is residential doesn't mean it can't be commercial too.

I would not call that area a "food desert."  It is right near the BRT which takes you to multiple grocery stores.  There is fast food within walking distance (at MCV).  You have tons of restaurants as soon as you cross Broad as well.  

The more square footage we can get out of the development the better, in my opinion.

What I would like to see included is some regional cooperation to expand the community college campus downtown, which is located very close to this development.

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3 hours ago, RiverYuppy said:

What I would like to see included is some regional cooperation to expand the community college campus downtown, which is located very close to this development.

 

Just curious here - I assume we are talking JSRCC?  Why would it take regional cooperation?  Better yet, why would the regions care when you have a big JSRCC campus in Henrico and John Tyler in Chesterfield (and maybe others?)

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6 hours ago, meegwell said:

Better yet, why would the regions care when you have a big JSRCC campus in Henrico and John Tyler in Chesterfield (and maybe others?)

It allows for more options for those who are in JSRCC.  In high school I took classes at TCC.  If I couldn't find the class I wanted at the Chesapeake campus, there was a good chance I could find it at the Norfolk or Portsmouth campus at a time I wanted.  It also distributes classes better so someone far east doesn't have a huge disadvantage to someone who is more west.

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I’m not anti residential.  This footprint is just too small for it to be included (especially as a requirement).  It can never be enough residential to sustain itself and has nowhere to grow in any direction.  

And it is a food desert, especially for the economically challenged (again, a requirement).  Eating at Vagabond every night isn’t an option.   Fast food at the hospital isn’t either. We can expect a pricey and subpar restaurant to be included with the hotel and maybe a lunch place that can serve the VCU Medical Center and City Hall lunch crowds.  You simply cannot move enough people (and an arena, large hotel, parking decks  and courts buildings) onto this small plot of land to support much else.

Hotels and arenas are their own microcosms.  An apartment building isn’t.

I️ like the expanded J Sargent idea.   I’ve always wanted to see them do more with their downtown campus.  I️ love what TCC has done over the past few years.  Their downtown Norfolk location should be the model for J Sargent Reynolds.  I’ve been to their VA Beach, Portsmouth and Chesapeake locations too.  All of them are beautiful! 

Edited by Brent114

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I agree the site is somewhat tight, because it’s highly unlikely anything will happen at the federal Bldg block or the courts,/John Marshall House, and one would think the parking decks would remain ( and aren’t designed for a major vertical addition). After the arena, hotel, and blues armory restoration, that leaves you with 3 blocks max for everything else which assumes a new home is provided for what remains in the public safety building and social services building. Let’s not forget they also want a grtc transfer center in the mix despite this location integrating poorly into the BRT... that will take up another half block or so. 

 The institutional/civic  Bldgs surrounding the site (especially VCU Health, the convention center, etc) create some rather large barriers for integrating residential into a pedestrian friendly fabric. 

Edited by wrldcoupe4

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While I have no idea if including residential in this is the right move, it is my hope that the area becomes a twenty-four hour neighborhood.  The neighborhood around the Verizon Center, Penn Quarter, is teeming with energy and includes a decent amount of residential despite being an office-centric area.  I realize that comparing the Verizon Center to whatever Richmond builds is not an "apples-to-apples" comparison, but the goal should be to emulate the DC experience as much as possible in this regard.  There are real barriers between this area and Jackson Ward that will be difficult to overcome and the point raised about a lack of services is valid.  For that to change, the new residential units would need to number in the thousands, not hundreds.  Either way, it is still an exciting development and will give us plenty to discuss in the new year. 

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If we are talking housing thousands of people, and assuming that developers are confined only that specific area (which they are not...the RFP says that the plan can extend beyond the bounds specifically set forth), then we almost need to be thinking like NYC.  You can't get that many people in such a small space without seriously going vertical (which, of course, I'm totally in favor of).  The mayor did say that it is an ambitious plan - to me, lots of tall residential buildings would fit the bill!  We already know that a 400+ room hotel will have to be rather tall in order to fit everything else in that space as well, so if the city gets everything they want, this project could be HUGE!  A grocery store at the bottom level of one of the residential towers would need to be part of the plan as well to be successful (I think).  I just can't wait to see what is proposed!

I drive by this residential tower in Crystal City every day.  This one is 22 stories and has a Whole Foods at the bottom level...the sort of thing that might work for this area of Richmond, although the footprint would need to be smaller:

Crystal%20City%20Tower.png

I have also wondered how the bus transfer station would work so far away form the BRT route.  It really sounds silly to me to build a transfer station at least a block away from the BRT route.  While not optimal...I guess it could work.  Riders would get off the BRT, then have to walk a block to the bus transfer station.  Still weird though.

Edited by eandslee
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53 minutes ago, wrldcoupe4 said:

Question for all - how does one build really tall, really dense affordable/low income housing without a subsidy? Building tall is expensive.

Good question, but I think that the point is not to build a tall building with ALL the housing within it for lower income families.  There should definitely be some market-rate housing options included, but I think you're correct...there will likely need to be some sort of subsidy to help pay for what they are asking for, which (ironically) won't be popular for the city taxpayer (seems their focus is solely on schools rather than subsidizing housing).  I don't know of any other "tools" a developer could use other than a subsidy, but there might be something out there we just don't know about.  It'd be interesting to do some research to see what could be done or find some examples where it has worked elsewhere.  Thanks for bringing this up - very good point.

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After a quick search on the web, in cities around the country like Seattle, Portland, and Philadelphia, developers are exchanging affordable housing with reduced height restrictions (they're building taller).  Also, the percentage of affordable housing within, say, one tower is as great as 25% of the total units.  This means that the more market-rate housing there are the more affordable housing units there are too, which is driving up the height of some of these kinds of projects.  The other thing that has been done is that developers have been paying massive fees to avoid having to include affordable housing, but I don't consider this a viable option for Richmond.  Anyway, just presenting what has been done elsewhere.  You can read about all this in the following articles:

http://planphilly.com/articles/2017/06/23/council-wants-to-make-developers-build-inclusive-affordable-housing

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/taller-buildings-proposed-for-more-of-seattle-in-exchange-for-affordable-housing/

http://www.wweek.com/news/city/2017/10/04/a-developer-dangles-the-possibility-of-500-affordable-apartments-in-exchange-for-the-right-to-build-downtown-skyscrapers/

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With respect to a 400-room hotel and what it could look like/how tall it could be, I happened to read this morning that the downtown Norfolk Waterside Marriott is a 405-room hotel.  After researching some photos of the hotel, I think I counted about 24-25 stories.  Just thought I'd mention that here.

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Latest news from the RTD:

City officials say they won’t identify the local and national developers that have signaled interest in submitting plans to replace the Richmond Coliseum and redevelop a valuable swath of city-owned land downtown....(referring to the new arena site and surrounding blocks identified for development)

...Twenty-three entities from across the country registered by last week’s deadline, said Matthew Welch, a senior policy adviser for the city department.

To register, an interested party had to submit to the city the name of its company, address, phone number and email address for a point of contact. Once registered, the city granted the entity access to an online data room, where documents related to the project and answers to questions raised by other respondents would be posted, the RFP states. Proposals are due to the city in February.

“The level of interest in this project is extremely encouraging and serves as further affirmation of what we already knew: There is significant and national interest in this area and the City of Richmond,” Welch stated in an email. “We anticipate and look forward to receiving a variety of highly competitive proposals in February.”

http://www.richmond.com/news/local/city-of-richmond/richmond-withholding-list-of-developers-interested-in-coliseum-redevelopment/article_15384d45-6e03-5c6a-83c1-ab841d8880c3.html

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Looks like there is some movement going on with respect to this development.  Looks like Tom Ferrell's development team (NH District Corp) is wanting community input on their proposal in order to meet the requirement in the RFP of involving the community.  There will be community engagement workshops at the following times and locations:

The meetings run from 9-5:

Saturday, Jan. 13:

  • Cedar Street Baptist Church, 2301 Cedar St.; and
  • Six Points Innovation Center, 3001 Meadowbridge Road.

Saturday, Jan 20:

  • Black History Museum and Cultural Center, 122 W. Leigh St.;
  • Westminster Presbyterian Church, 4103 Monument Ave.;
  • Belmont United Methodist Church, 3510 Broad Rock Road; and
  • Westover Hills United Methodist Church, 1705 Westover Hills Blvd.

I would love to get a report from one or some of you locals regarding what is presented and how it is received.  Anyone up to the task?  Here's the article I reference:

http://www.richmond.com/business/local/public-meetings-planned-for-richmond-coliseum-downtown-redevelopment-plans/article_d7ca32df-b18c-5258-81c8-d5db7c2ed1c4.html

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I'll will make a good attempt to attend one of the workshops on the 20th.

To the forum:

Let me know any questions, comments, concerns, complaints, anything (even if we disagree I'll bring it up in person to them for you) that I can bring with me, so that I can direct them to the development team.

Besides that I'll just go an take good notes to report back here.

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Thank you for posting (I thought I was by myself for a while there) and thanks for offering to go the one of the workshops.  Personally, I'm all in favor of what is called for in the RFP.  It would be great to see more density in the area (with respect to residential), a large/tall hotel, a very nice (and aesthetically pleasing) arena, and a cool-looking (and very functional) bus transfer station.  If the development team can do anything to house any of the city operations in that area, that would be a plus!  Otherwise, I'd like to see what they are thinking of proposing, so if they have any renderings or concept ideas you can take photos of or provide details on, that would be fantastic!

I do find it interesting that out of the (mentioned) 23 entities the city said was supposedly interested in submitting a proposal, it is only this development team that is actually doing what is called for in the RFP with respect to community input/outreach.  Does that mean that this will be the only proposal submitted?  Not sure, but I find it interesting.

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I hope everyone manages their expectations. 

I’m expecting a smallish arena, a nicely landscaped parking structure and one 6 story mixed use box.  The BW3 in the Bottom will close and move into the ground floor space with 5 floors of apartments (no balconies) above. 

The more I think about it and the more I walk past the Coliseum and the Diamond I become less and less hopeful.  Both aforementioned venues were highly celebrated and state of the art (and considered beautiful) when they were built.  Neither spurred so much as a hotdog stand’s worth of economic activity, not even when they were shinny and new (and when they had a very popular hockey team and the Braves).  There’s no reason to believe that anything will be different this time.  When you consider that Richmond was a more significant city when they were built and that people actually had to leave home to be entertained and that if you wanted to shop you had to go into a store it becomes more unrealistic to expect much of this. 

I like the bus transfer station here and the renovation of the Armory and love that the last bit of 6th Street Marketplace is going away (6th Street connects 3 hotels and really should be used as a gateway into any renovated or new arena district). 

 

I’d actually like to see the Armory become part of the new hotel.  It would be a handsome lobby and a new tower could be grafted to the back of it.  The idea of using it as meeting space is silly.  The city just renovated the train shed into meeting space (in addition to all of the other unused “meeting” space around downtown. 

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3 hours ago, Brent114 said:

The more I think about it and the more I walk past the Coliseum and the Diamond I become less and less hopeful.  Both aforementioned venues were highly celebrated and state of the art (and considered beautiful) when they were built.  Neither spurred so much as a hotdog stand’s worth of economic activity, not even when they were shinny and new (and when they had a very popular hockey team and the Braves).  There’s no reason to believe that anything will be different this time.  When you consider that Richmond was a more significant city when they were built and that people actually had to leave home to be entertained and that if you wanted to shop you had to go into a store it becomes more unrealistic to expect much of this. 

I get what you’re saying and it is true that nothing spurred economically around the new Coliseum in the early 70s and 6th Street Marketplace back in the 80s.  However, there is a very good logical explanation for their failures and that is timing. Timing is everything and if these projects were built during other times in Richmond’s history, they might not have failed. The problem with these projects during the time they were built is that this was a time when people were moving out of the city. The city was bleeding people during these times and no one was really moving into the downtown area and no one was making any investments downtown. These projects were attempts by the city to stop the bleeding of people moving into the counties and it turned out to not be enough. Downtown Richmond went into severe decline.  It is true these project didn’t spur any new economic activity, but the flow of investment and people were already headed out into the counties (it’s was like trying to swim upstream).  Today, the situation is just the opposite. People are flocking back to the city and investments are being made in the city everywhere!  With a new arena and other projects like the ones being proposed will only help catalyze the growth already occurring.  I sincerely believe that you will not see the same result this time that you saw with projects of the past. The conditions are right and it only makes sense for Richmond to ride the wave of economic growth while the growth is in full swing and growing. Call me super optimistic, but I’m pretty sure that this time, it will be different!!!

Edited by eandslee
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I hope you’re right.  That area is already looking better with the new hospital going up.  It’s a bit suburban in design and placement on the lot but it is looking pretty elegant. Really freshens up the view. 

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Ok, so I went to one of the public meetings on the arena development being held by the Dominion folks.

Overall not much to report. Pretty basic poster session looking for public input and not a lot answers to questions, actually a little frustrating on that point.

One question I was trying to get answered is what buildings are exactly in play; e.g. I asked about the IRS building, being in the RFP zone, is it up for redevelopment, IRS is a federal agency but does the city own the land? I got several conflicting answers on that from the people there.

They were pretty determined though talking with them that the Public Safety building is going to be demolished.

They did show examples of successful TIF funded projects from other cities;

Columbus OH, new arena for NHL team funded by TIF (although I did point out having an NHL team makes a big difference)

Kansas City MI, redeveloped downtown area

and a few other examples.

 

Honestly not much else to report

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I lived in Columbus when they started to develop the arena district.  That area and the site in Richmond aren’t very similar.  

There was a ton of undeveloped land around the arena (grassy fields, an area about the size of the Boulevard area that is considered for redevelopment  here in Richmond, but only a few 1story cinder lock buildings in the way) and while it was hemmed in by an expressway and the river , it was just 1-2 blocks away from the equivalent  of their Carytown (Short North) and  their Fan (Victorian Village).  And of course a NHL team commuting to the project made it work.  All-in-all they created a pretty sterile village that doesn’t seem to be a part of downtown or the surround neighborhood (think West  Broad  Village plopped down in front of the war memorial here in Richmond).  Hated it. 

It dd have a very nice spillover effect on High Street though. 

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12 hours ago, Brent114 said:

I lived in Columbus when they started to develop the arena district.  That area and the site in Richmond aren’t very similar.  

There was a ton of undeveloped land around the arena (grassy fields, an area about the size of the Boulevard area that is considered for redevelopment  here in Richmond, but only a few 1story cinder lock buildings in the way) and while it was hemmed in by an expressway and the river , it was just 1-2 blocks away from the equivalent  of their Carytown (Short North) and  their Fan (Victorian Village).  And of course a NHL team commuting to the project made it work.  All-in-all they created a pretty sterile village that doesn’t seem to be a part of downtown or the surround neighborhood (think West  Broad  Village plopped down in front of the war memorial here in Richmond).  Hated it. 

It dd have a very nice spillover effect on High Street though. 

It would be nice to have the 2nd Street corridor NE of the War Memorial developed though.

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17 hours ago, drayrichmond said:

One question I was trying to get answered is what buildings are exactly in play; e.g. I asked about the IRS building, being in the RFP zone, is it up for redevelopment, IRS is a federal agency but does the city own the land? I got several conflicting answers on that from the people there.

That building is owned by the fed and contains offices for many other U.S. agencies, as well as the IRS.  I suspect it will be an annoying thorn within the project.

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