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eandslee

New Richmond Arena

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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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4 minutes ago, Icetera said:

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.

yeah, that's really concerning to me, because if we can't redo the IRS building, the circuit court building, social services, etc... then how can we expect the re-connection of Clay street, make it a better urban space. Only rehabbing/redeveloping half the area isn't going to do much if the other half is still a mess of poorly designed/aging offices.

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If the Feds could get involved in a P3 scenario (Public-Private Partnership), then that would erase any concerns of the Feds becoming an issue.  In addition, I'm positive discussions have already occurred with Richmond or the Mayor's office would not have included this block as part of the over all redevelopment.

 

My comment is just an opinion. 

Edited by Shakman

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There’s nothing wrong with the federal building.  The front could use some landscaping (make it all  hardscaped, no suburban grass).  The size and location are fine.  It’s even a decent looking building.  Spending money to replace an existing building that doesn’t need replacing would be infuriating to me. 

The worst thing that could ever happen to Richmond is for a single developer to develop 6 or so contiguous blocks.  There’s no better way to ruin a city.  

Edited by Brent114
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1 hour ago, Brent114 said:

There’s nothing wrong with the federal building.  The front could use some landscaping (make it all  hardscaped, no suburban grass).  The size and location are fine.  It’s even a decent looking building.  Spending money to replace an existing building that doesn’t need replacing would be infuriating to me. 

The worst thing that could ever happen to Richmond is for a single developer to develop 6 or so contiguous blocks.  There’s no better way to ruin a city.  

I don't know...have you ever been in the federal building?  I was last in there some 20 years ago and it was a dump then, who knows what it looks like now.  Outside...well, it could use a facelift at the very least.

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20 hours ago, eandslee said:

I don't know...have you ever been in the federal building?  I was last in there some 20 years ago and it was a dump then, who knows what it looks like now.  Outside...well, it could use a facelift at the very least.

Certainly was a dump in 2001 but not concerned there as long as they can improve the exterior for better pedestrian interaction (within security limitations).

Edited by Icetera
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It's not necessarily how the building looks but how the building functions.  If the mechanical and electrical systems are not update, then that is additional cost to upgrade and bring to current code requirements.  Energy savings of the current structure needs to be examined.   There are other areas that need to be examined in order to determine the functionality of an existing building.

Edited by Shakman

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1 hour ago, drayrichmond said:

Honestly though, if we had to choose one of the buildings in the RFP zone to keep, it would be the IRS building in my book, it's the best out of the lot.

This is true, but since that building falls into the scope of the entire area marked for redevelopment, I'm hoping that the IRS building goes too!  When the city marked it for redevelopment, I would assume that the IRS building was free game for getting the wrecking ball.  There is probably going to have to be quite a bit of coordination and money marked from the feds to do it, but hopefully it can be achieved.  We'll see what happens.

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Or, or, the Feds will simply move shop to any number of available buildings in the West End, perhaps one recently vacated by Dominion.   Of course they could just as easily leave the Richmond metro.  Earmarks are dead and the current administration in Washington likes to punish blue states as sport.  Don’t expect the Feds to pony up one red cent just because Richmond wants to Short Pump it’s downtown. 

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Post Oklahoma City  world :) 

 

Of course they will stay and the building will remain unchanged....

But they’d probably have an easier time securing a building in an office park than one in the center of the city. 

 

After OKC it was fortified, along  with the federal reserve bank.  The beauilful federal reserve used to sit on a grassy hill (well, it’s still on the grassy hill)  surrounded by large magnolia trees.  It was downright Athian (if Athans had grass lol).  You could walk freely around the lawn and picnic in the shade, playing  in the fountain was frowned upon but it wouldn’t get you taken out by a sniper lol.  Alas, it’s all blast proof walls and fences now.  

Edited by Brent114

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