City makes lateral toss on Redskins deal

Redskins training camp rendering

A rendering of the planned Redskins training camp behind the Science Museum.

The city has advanced its plan to bring the Redskins to Richmond a few more yards.

The Richmond Planning Commission voted unanimously Monday on three measures that move the deed on the Westhampton School property at Patterson and Libbie avenues to the city’s Economic Development Authority. That property is part of a deal with the Bon Secours hospital organization to sponsor and help pay for a Redskins training facility and expand two its hospitals.

The commission also on Monday approved an agreement to move $10 million from the city jail project, school construction and planned City Stadium renovations to the EDA to pay for the development of the Redskins training facility on 17 acres on Leigh Street behind the Virginia Museum of Science.

Westhampton School property

The Westhampton School property near Libbie and Patterson avenues. (Photo by David Larter)

The EDA is an organization separate from the city that focuses on promoting the city and attracting companies to relocate here. In this case, it’s being used to bypass some of the red tape involved in development of the Redskins property to get it up and running for next summer’s training camp. The EDA will also be the landlord for the Redskins and for Bon Secours at the Westhampton property.

At Monday’s hearing, Richmond City Manager Byron Marshall said the locality didn’t have the time to put the deal together with Bon Secours with public input.

“It is very difficult to negotiate this kind of deal in the newspapers and with the public,” Marshall said. “We weren’t trying to be less than transparent. The deal itself dictated that we had to move quickly.”

Marshall said the city had about 13 months from the time of the governor’s announcement in June that the Redskins would move their training camp to Richmond and would open for the 2013 season. When you factor in about eight months of construction, it only had about five months to get the deal together, Marshall explained.

The mayor’s office pitched the deal to Bon Secours on Sept. 6, and by Sept. 10, Bon Secours had accepted the deal, Marshall said. The mayor finally announced the deal Oct. 22.

City Council last week approved the framework of the deal that gives Bon Secours the use of four acres of the Westhampton School property for 60 years at $5,000 per year in exchange for bankrolling about $6.3 million of the Redskins’ training facility through naming rights and rent on attached office space.

Additionally, the health system committed to maintaining the public ball fields on the school property, which will cost about $28,000 per year. Bon Secours also committed to expanding its Richmond Community Hospital in the East End by 25,000 square feet.

Representatives from Bon Secours told the planning commission it probably would not be able to begin work on the East End site for another three years while it works out property issues.

Planning commission member Lynn McAteer at Monday’s meeting asked representatives of the mayor’s office why the Redskins didn’t put any money into the deal. Rich Johnson, head of local real estate holdings firm the Wilton Companies and chairman of the Economic Development Authority, said that the Redskins are such a big draw that they didn’t have to put any money in.

“The power of their brand is such that the market dictates that they don’t have to,” Johnson said. “It creates too much benefit for the local community for them to have to pay.”

Redskins training camp rendering

A rendering of the planned Redskins training camp behind the Science Museum.

The city has advanced its plan to bring the Redskins to Richmond a few more yards.

The Richmond Planning Commission voted unanimously Monday on three measures that move the deed on the Westhampton School property at Patterson and Libbie avenues to the city’s Economic Development Authority. That property is part of a deal with the Bon Secours hospital organization to sponsor and help pay for a Redskins training facility and expand two its hospitals.

The commission also on Monday approved an agreement to move $10 million from the city jail project, school construction and planned City Stadium renovations to the EDA to pay for the development of the Redskins training facility on 17 acres on Leigh Street behind the Virginia Museum of Science.

Westhampton School property

The Westhampton School property near Libbie and Patterson avenues. (Photo by David Larter)

The EDA is an organization separate from the city that focuses on promoting the city and attracting companies to relocate here. In this case, it’s being used to bypass some of the red tape involved in development of the Redskins property to get it up and running for next summer’s training camp. The EDA will also be the landlord for the Redskins and for Bon Secours at the Westhampton property.

At Monday’s hearing, Richmond City Manager Byron Marshall said the locality didn’t have the time to put the deal together with Bon Secours with public input.

“It is very difficult to negotiate this kind of deal in the newspapers and with the public,” Marshall said. “We weren’t trying to be less than transparent. The deal itself dictated that we had to move quickly.”

Marshall said the city had about 13 months from the time of the governor’s announcement in June that the Redskins would move their training camp to Richmond and would open for the 2013 season. When you factor in about eight months of construction, it only had about five months to get the deal together, Marshall explained.

The mayor’s office pitched the deal to Bon Secours on Sept. 6, and by Sept. 10, Bon Secours had accepted the deal, Marshall said. The mayor finally announced the deal Oct. 22.

City Council last week approved the framework of the deal that gives Bon Secours the use of four acres of the Westhampton School property for 60 years at $5,000 per year in exchange for bankrolling about $6.3 million of the Redskins’ training facility through naming rights and rent on attached office space.

Additionally, the health system committed to maintaining the public ball fields on the school property, which will cost about $28,000 per year. Bon Secours also committed to expanding its Richmond Community Hospital in the East End by 25,000 square feet.

Representatives from Bon Secours told the planning commission it probably would not be able to begin work on the East End site for another three years while it works out property issues.

Planning commission member Lynn McAteer at Monday’s meeting asked representatives of the mayor’s office why the Redskins didn’t put any money into the deal. Rich Johnson, head of local real estate holdings firm the Wilton Companies and chairman of the Economic Development Authority, said that the Redskins are such a big draw that they didn’t have to put any money in.

“The power of their brand is such that the market dictates that they don’t have to,” Johnson said. “It creates too much benefit for the local community for them to have to pay.”

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John Lindner
John Lindner
9 years ago

Where’s the math? I’d like to know what the fair market rent would be for the Westhampton property. If the rental is worth $20,000 a month and they’re paying $5,000, then they’re getting a $10.8MM deal for $3.6 MM. That pretty much negates the $6.3MM they’re kicking in for the Redskins facility, but they also get an extra facility out of the deal. I don’t think the public would be so skeptical of this deal if there was more information about the numbers. PS: red tape = avoiding the law that prevents long-term rentals. In this case, that law might… Read more »

st George Pinckney
st George Pinckney
9 years ago

In a city with as much poverty as Richmond, to invest $11,000,000 in two football fields would be immoral. The Governor should send the Redskins training camp to an existing facility such as at UVA, William & Mary, or elsewhere. The Westhampton School should be appraised and then sold, with historic easements and tax credits, at a fair value. The proceeds would then be used to connect with very high speed internet Richmond region schools, colleges, universities, medical schools, research laboratories, and business generators such as Advantec. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324073504578109520790985296.html?mod=WSJ_Tech_LEADTop Without any other incentive, Bon Secours will increase its investment in Richmond… Read more »

John Richmond
John Richmond
9 years ago

I love the self appointed saviors who have all the answers, when it comes to interfering with any and everything!
The Richmond Schools advocates keep clamoring to GIVE GIVE GIVE to are a wreck from their own doing!
About time the City INVEST is an INVESTMENT and QUIT GIVING to SOCIAL CAUSES without return!!!
Richmond government like m ost has proven to be inept at investment, progress, etc.
This is the best thing they have done in a long time.
Allow a private enterprise to use stagnant resources and get out of the way!!!