As interested developers prepare their proposals, the site of a planned redevelopment along the Boulevard is becoming a cleaner slate.
Demolition of 22 city-owned buildings and miscellaneous structures around The Diamond is wrapping up, on parts of the 60-acre site where the City of Richmond is planning a massive mixed-use development.
The buildings made up the Parker Field Operations Center for the City of Richmond’s public works department. Those facilities have been relocated to the Commerce Road corridor across the river in Manchester, where 300 city jobs were moved with them. Several structures in the area of the Parker Field Annex, across Robin Hood Road from the Arthur Ashe Jr. Athletic Center, were also taken down.
The work also includes hazardous materials abatement, conducted over two phases along with the demolition. S.B. Cox completed the first phase, on a contract totaling $943,000. RJ Smith is completing the second phase on a contract upwards of $1.19 million.
The work is making way for a mixed-use development that would replace The Diamond with as many as 4,000 housing units, 500,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space, 375,000 square feet of office or flex space, and a hotel totaling as many as 250 rooms.
Those numbers were listed in a market analysis as the highest and best use for the city-owned site, which includes The Diamond, the adjacent Arthur Ashe center and other city-controlled properties that make up the 60-acre site.
The project would not affect the VCU-owned Sports Backers Stadium, which is located within the area slated for redevelopment. The Arthur Ashe center could be relocated for the project, and plans are in the works to relocate The Diamond in the vicinity of the Boulevard, with the site of the nearby ABC distribution center considered a possible option.
Developers interested in the project were invited to tour the site Monday, ahead of a formal request for qualifications that would accept submissions through Oct. 30. Firms deemed to be qualified to take on the project would then receive a request for proposals in December or January.
Proposals would be due to city staff in February, and finalists would present their projects to staff in March.
Among several dozen people who turned out for Monday’s site tour were representatives with Hickok Cole, a Washington, D.C.-based design firm that recently expanded to Richmond. Jessica Zullo, who is heading up the firm’s local office, said they are eyeing the project for its housing component.
“It’s exciting to see the city push that neighborhood,” she said. “We’re hoping to be part of it.”