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City Center / Virginia BioTech Park


whw53

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1 hour ago, ancientcarpenter said:

FANTASTIC!! 

Regardless how things actually shake out in terms of what is built - how much density, how tall, etc., I can honestly say that with this next step in the City Center initiative, and with what's happening over in the Diamond District, that the city is -- for the first time in my lifetime -- actually approaching all of this correctly. Which means - the way other SUCCESSFUL cities have ALWAYS approached it - which is something RVA has never done until now. Maybe FINALLY the old, outmoded, restrained, constrained, restricted, constricted (yes - I'm purposely throwing as many adjectives in here that remotely describe it!) ways of thinking and M.O. is giving way to doing things the RIGHT way! Maybe this is the direction that the city goes to take the "next steps" - whereas Scott's Addition and Manchester have organically developed independently yet to an extent in tandem as "book end" anchor hot spot sections of the city over the last 5 to 8 years or so - perhaps going forward the Diamond District and City Center are the next two hot spots in the batting order that are poised to step up to the plate and bang out a few home runs - only this time WITH some help from the city.

It's things like these that do give me hope!

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The city is moving forward with the next of no-doubt many necessary practical steps to get things rolling in City Center. This is in addition to the planning department reworking and proposing upzoning the entire City Center district.

From Richmond BizSense:

https://richmondbizsense.com/2022/05/16/coliseum-rfp-demolition-would-follow-arenas-planned-transfer-to-eda/

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51 minutes ago, I miss RVA said:

The city is moving forward with the next of no-doubt many necessary practical steps to get things rolling in City Center. This is in addition to the planning department reworking and proposing upzoning the entire City Center district.

From Richmond BizSense:

https://richmondbizsense.com/2022/05/16/coliseum-rfp-demolition-would-follow-arenas-planned-transfer-to-eda/

This is just going to take too long to do.  Heck, the whole Navy Hill would have been built by the time they just demo the Coliseum!  Geez....

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50 minutes ago, eandslee said:

This is just going to take too long to do.  Heck, the whole Navy Hill would have been built by the time they just demo the Coliseum!  Geez....

Or just long enough? At least in a galaxy brain sense. (If we’re heading into a recession, it’ll take so long that we’ll be out of the recession by the time this is ripe.)

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56 minutes ago, eandslee said:

This is just going to take too long to do.  Heck, the whole Navy Hill would have been built by the time they just demo the Coliseum!  Geez....

Maybe - but maybe not. Tearing down the copper-top spaceship is going to take forever no matter how we slice it. I got the feeling that even had NH passed, it wouldn't have sped up any processes. If you think about it, the only things the Diamond District has going for it from a "get it done quickly" perspective is that there's a hard deadline to get a new ballpark in place else we lose the Squirrels. Plus, I have a feeling it will be easier to tear down The Diamond and remove it than it will the Coliseum, if for no other reason than enviromnmental concerns, even through there are only 14-years' difference in the ages of the two facilities. There was little to no urgency to push demo of the Coliseum when NH was on the board - nor is there one now. So ... on the one hand, I totally share your frustration about how long just getting rid of the beast is going to take. But it is what it is. The other part - is that the Diamond District is going to have a coordinated, tight, unified proposal/plan for development. It's not sounding at all like that will be the case with City Center. Small Area Plan - yes. Upzoning, yes. RFP for redevelopment of the Coliseum site - okay - sounds like the direction they're going. But nothing is in place - and I somehow don't see the same umph being applied to City Center to get a COORDINATED development plan in place as is the case for the Diamond District. I do think that the city, while participating in the planning and guiding things, are going to let "free market factors" have a freer hand in City Center than they will in the Diamond District - unless I'm not reading the tea leaves correctly and have missed something.

Edited by I miss RVA
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  • 3 months later...
6 hours ago, RVA-Is-The-Best said:

Neat, an update on Activation Capital's attempts to build something on one of the largest remaining vacant (surface parking) lots in the BioTech park.

https://richmondbizsense.com/2022/09/09/regional-pharma-partnership-to-get-boost-with-new-labs-in-richmond-chesterfield/

According to the article, 6 stories, 100k sq ft including wet lab space, could break ground this year, finish in 18-24 months. Hope this gets off the ground asap. That lot needs to be filled

Hopefully we see some tasty renderings eventually

I'm excited to see this parking lot disappear. Unless I'm misunderstanding the article I think it could break ground within a year. Not necessarily this year, which sucks. 

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Yeah, it’s good to see movement on this right away (really, it seems that some work has been done fairly recently in prep for the RFI). I’m encouraged by how serious the city seems to get this done as quickly as they can.  Also encouraging, is to see that Maritza Pechin is working this as well. She is definitely a “keeper!”

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100% agreed, gentlemen!  Maritza Pechin is absolutely phenomenal! The city would be VERY wise to do whatever is necessary financially to keep her on board for as long as humanly possible. My biggest fear is that we get - and develop - real superstars like that who do GREAT things for a brief period of time, only to move on to "bigger" - a.k.a. - "greener" pastures. The prototypical view of Richmond as "minor league" where real pros cut their teeth and develop their game - before moving on to "major league" cities like Voldemort (that city some 293 miles to our south and west that shall remain nameless).  image.png.9e0afafca14af3d80fa0cff615611bf4.png

Edited by I miss RVA
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30 minutes ago, Brent114 said:

Robert Bob moving to Oakland set us back… and I’ll never forgive that basketball coach that fled  to Austin 

Shaka Smart. I know, right? VCU was a Final Four team under him - and for a few years a consistent Top-25 program. Not so much since those heady days... (and VCU's my undergrad alma mater, BTW! :tw_thumbsup:)

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  • 2 weeks later...
4 hours ago, whw53 said:

I didn't even realize this was up for council vote yet. Something's in the water at city hall when council is moving faster than Urban Planet - let's keep in rolling - where's that shockoe small area plan?

https://richmondbizsense.com/2022/09/29/city-council-approves-city-center-rezoning-vuu-tower-sign-appeal/

Either something's in the water or they all bumped their heads on something and forgot who they are! This is HUGE!!!

SO glad the upzoning was approved. I honestly wish the city would replace all of the B-4 zoning with this zoning throughout downtown. Note this from the RBS article re: the upzoning for City Center:

Staff ultimately recommended to instead revise the existing Research Park zoning district to allow for those uses as well as hotel and school use, unlimited building height with required step-backs, unlimited density, and scale and design guidelines in accordance with the area plan. The district was also expanded to include properties beyond the biotech park.

I'm jolly well amazed!!!

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  • 1 month later...
2 hours ago, eandslee said:

We’ll, it has begun - the process to begin redeveloping City Center.  Looks like it will be done in sections (was kind of disappointed to read that), the first will include the Coliseum area and must include at least a 500-room hotel. Requests for interests are due by 20 December.  There will be a site visit for potential developers on 29 Nov.  Looks like a developer will be decided by summer of next year.  Here’s the article from Virginia Business:

https://www.virginiabusiness.com/article/richmond-seeks-developers-for-coliseum-property/

Okay! Well - we've been hoping the city would get started on this process sooner rather than later, given the emphasis placed on the Diamond District.  I'm gratified to see that the specs for the hotel are a MINIMUM 500-room hotel. That bodes well, methinks. I always worry about the city saying they want a 500-room hotel (with no specifics that 500 rooms is the baseline) - and the developer comes back with a 300-room model... It's just another example RVA projects have gotten truncated over the years. So here's hoping that we do get something bigger than 500 rooms. 

Can anyone say Hyatt Regency? :tw_smiley:

BTW - so far, nothing yet in the RT-D, NBC12, WRIC-8 or CBS6. Betcha dollars to donuts, RBS will have this story in the morning. :tw_thumbsup:

Edited by I miss RVA
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I have some concerns about how the city has decided to phase this project and issue the RFP.

Is a 500-room HQ hotel in Phase 1 realistic to expect a private development response for? The city has been wanting one ever since the GRCC opened in the 90s. What’s changed now? Higher construction costs, financing costs, and a hotel industry reeling from the pandemic. 

For comparison’s sake, Virginia Beach is looking for a smaller, 400-room HQ hotel next to its near-oceanfront convention center. A 2018 market study was done there showing attendance figure comparisons for the VBCC (twice the attendance of GRCC) and hotel competition in the region. There are a few existing hotels in all of Hampton Roads that near ~400 rooms, but that’s it. Virginia Beach has not made any headway on their project, despite what I would think would be a greater draw for large conventions (the beach). I posted figures comparison the VB convention center to GRCC and hotel availability. 

Don’t get me wrong, I hope all of City Center is redeveloped densely and in a manner that makes a new dynamic neighborhood for everyone to enjoy. I question the motive/rationale for underpinning Navy Hill’s phased redevelopment on a massive “want” (the HQ hotel is a want, not need) at the beginning of the effort that seems totally unrealistic to me at the present time. 

253F1739-0847-4EB4-BD13-9FA7BF0C2417.jpeg

28702D54-450A-452D-AFAA-C3158B254630.jpeg

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2 hours ago, vaceltic said:

I have some concerns about how the city has decided to phase this project and issue the RFP.

Is a 500-room HQ hotel in Phase 1 realistic to expect a private development response for? The city has been wanting one ever since the GRCC opened in the 90s. What’s changed now? Higher construction costs, financing costs, and a hotel industry reeling from the pandemic. 

For comparison’s sake, Virginia Beach is looking for a smaller, 400-room HQ hotel next to its near-oceanfront convention center. A 2018 market study was done there showing attendance figure comparisons for the VBCC (twice the attendance of GRCC) and hotel competition in the region. There are a few existing hotels in all of Hampton Roads that near ~400 rooms, but that’s it. Virginia Beach has not made any headway on their project, despite what I would think would be a greater draw for large conventions (the beach). I posted figures comparison the VB convention center to GRCC and hotel availability. 

Don’t get me wrong, I hope all of City Center is redeveloped densely and in a manner that makes a new dynamic neighborhood for everyone to enjoy. I question the motive/rationale for underpinning Navy Hill’s phased redevelopment on a massive “want” (the HQ hotel is a want, not need) at the beginning of the effort that seems totally unrealistic to me at the present time. 

253F1739-0847-4EB4-BD13-9FA7BF0C2417.jpeg

28702D54-450A-452D-AFAA-C3158B254630.jpeg

I hear what your saying, but you can also look at this as the “chicken or the egg”scenario.  Is the Richmond Convention Center not getting the shows/events that VA Beach is getting because there aren’t enough hotel rooms to draw in the events that could be drawn in with the right hotel accommodations (among probably other facilities)?  There are tons of hotel rooms in VA Beach that Richmond cannot compete with at the moment…despite the fact that VA Beach doesn’t have a 500-room hotel - they don’t have to have one. Richmond, if it’s to draw the events it needs to be busier and to draw in the kind of events envisioned, then it needs the hotel rooms available to do just that.  It’s all about being able to draw people downtown and to the convention center we are after…because it’s not happening now. So what has to change to make that happen?  Number of hotel rooms is one of those things that needs to change.

Also, the hotel industry is not “reeling” from the pandemic anymore.  All the accounts I’ve read on the subject suggests that hotel booking rates are back to 2019 levels and in some cases (and in some reports) I’ve read, they have exceeded the levels we saw even before the pandemic. 

Edited by eandslee
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2 hours ago, eandslee said:

There are tons of hotel rooms in VA Beach that Richmond cannot compete with at the moment…despite the fact that VA Beach doesn’t have a 500-room hotel - they don’t have to have one. Richmond, if it’s to draw the events it needs to be busier and to draw in the kind of events envisioned, then it needs the hotel rooms available to do just that.  It’s all about being able to draw people downtown and to the convention center we are after…because it’s not happening now. So what has to change to make that happen?  Number of hotel rooms is one of those things that needs to change.

This.

Also, although I certainly understand the skepticism above, I think one circumstance that has changed from decades past is a higher degree of competence and professionalism in the planning personnel. They must have some tangible indication there would be demand to build a 500+ room hotel.

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