City readies land for Boulevard redevelopment

Demolition continued near The Diamond on Monday. (Jonathan Spiers)

Demolition continued near The Diamond on Monday. (Jonathan Spiers)

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.

Jane Ferrara of the city's economic and community development department discusses the project with attendees. (Jonathan Spiers)

Jane Ferrara of the city’s economic and community development department discusses the project with attendees. (Jonathan Spiers)

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.”

Map courtesy of the City of Richmond.

Map courtesy of the City of Richmond.

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8 Comments on "City readies land for Boulevard redevelopment"

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Elizabeth Cogar

So it looks like the historic Westham Station, former city visitors center on Robin Hood Rd, is being razed with nary a word … the city has let it rot in recent years. Kind of sad for those of us who worked there greeting visitors for many years and I’m surprised no train buffs have said anything.

Margaret johnson

New developments being announced with what seems great frequency, many involving City financial commitment. But there isn’t enough money to take care of our police force?

Or maintain parks, medians, or our iconic Monument Avenue?

Or replace missing street signs?

Or pave our pot hole streets?

Charles Artis

Margaret, none of those activities you mention grease the palms of any city official, moreover they are neither flashy or sexy therefore rendering them unmarketable and useless in today’s ‘business’ world.

Brian Glass
If you look at the attached aerial the demolition of the former Parker Field Operations center abuts the railroad tracks. If you photo shopped the existing Diamond it would tuck nicely into this space, Also keep in mind that a new stadium would be smaller, and would complement Sports Backers Stadium, which isn’t going anywhere! Who would want to live adjacent to the railroad tracks, and directly on the Boulevard anyway? There’s plenty of additional land for the city to work with, once the Diamond is demolished, and relocated, along with the money losing Arthur Ashe Center . Just ask… Read more »
Michael Dodson

Funny once the election occurs this might all be MOOT and need a reboot. Not sure what kind of developer would submit a serious proposal to an unpopular, untrusted outgoing Mayor and their staff. Especially when the stadium location and financing question are still in the air. There is NO agreement or funds yet to move the Diamond.

Mark Johnson

Margaret this is a business site most readers id guess would rather you took your incomplete uninformed political rant to a place like Style Weekly.


Kevin Randesi
I have a bad feeling that the redevelopment proposed would be a big failure leaving more empty retail spaces along with empty houses. There’s plenty of office/retail buildings in other areas of Richmond that are vacant – why add more? Why not work to get these filled first? Also, the city can’t compete with the localities (Hanover/Henrico/Chesterfield/etc.) because business taxes are substantially lower in these areas – and businesses move there instead. Big businesses (ex: grocery stores) are not going to move to the city simply off of “speculation” that a market is going to support one…they want to see… Read more »
Brian Ezzelle
Elizabeth I rode by the area last night and the former C&O Westham station was still intact. This is the last wood frame train station from the local area still standing (the Manakin station was torn down in the 1990s). Mark, when developers quit coming to the city with hands extended looking for tax incentives and can build their properties with zero public funding, incentives, etc then you may have a valid point. Dont wrongly assume that all readers here agree with your views. Instead why dont you answer her question. What could all the money the city of Richmond… Read more »