City ponders Public Safety Building sale as development offer looms

The Public Safety Building as viewed along Ninth Street earlier this year, with the under-construction VCU Health outpatient building rising behind it. (Courtesy of Capital City Partners)

Five months after it was pitched to the city, a $350 million development proposal that would salvage part of the failed Navy Hill plan remains in play.

In a specially-called meeting last week, the City Council met in closed session with city administrators to discuss the disposition of the Public Safety Building property at 500 N. 10th St., where Capital City Partners has proposed a 20-story tower and mixed-use office complex.

CCP, the development team that was enlisted for Navy Hill, offered in May to buy the city-owned property and redevelop it, with VCU Health signed on to anchor the tower.

No action was taken after the closed session, but the discussion indicates that CCP’s offer remains on the table and on the city’s list of priorities.

Administration spokesman Jim Nolan said the city’s economic development staff remains in communication with CCP.

“We are keeping council apprised of our progress in meeting their desired business terms, and where we are with the developer,” Nolan said in an email. “Our discussions with the developer have been productive.”

A rendering of the proposed office tower and complex that would replace the Public Safety Building. (Courtesy of Capital City Partners)

Economic development officials had said in June that they wanted the council’s permission to start negotiations with CCP. A formal authorization has yet to be made, as the majority of the council that voted down Navy Hill in February said they first wanted certain steps taken before any offer could be considered through a request-for-proposals process.

Those steps include public outreach and development of a plan specific to the Coliseum area. They also requested appraisals of city-owned property that would be offered through an RFP, including the Public Safety Building site.

The council was told in June those appraisals were completed, and administrators pointed to surveys and other outreach tied to the Richmond 300 master plan update as contributing toward the council’s request.

Those efforts included two virtually-held public meetings specific to the development of a so-called Coliseum Framework Plan, which city planners and consultants intend to wrap up now that the Richmond 300 document has been finalized and submitted to the city.

The council is scheduled to introduce and refer the document to a committee Nov. 9, with a potential vote to adopt it slated for Dec. 14.

Maritza Pechin, a planner with consulting firm AECOM who is serving as Richmond 300’s project manager, said the group is resuming its work on the Coliseum-area plan, with a third public meeting to be held sometime next month.

“We have been focusing our efforts on getting Richmond 300 through the legislative process,” Pechin said in an email in late September. “For the Coliseum Framework Plan, we are planning to conduct some stakeholder interviews in October and will host another round of public meetings in November.”

Earlier this year, the city declared the Public Safety Building as surplus property — a move required by city code before the council can issue an RFP or consider unsolicited offers. The building initially was included among other city-owned properties that administrators proposed declaring surplus as a group, but the proposal was amended so the building could be declared surplus individually.

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Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
4 months ago

This is the ACTUAL smart way development should unfold, as opposed to the “smartish” way the politicians tell us it must. The city owns real estate. The city finds it has no use for it — the sell it to the highest bidder that has a use for it it that complies with the “good uses” for the neighborhood and the city makes money that it has in hand TODAY that they can use to do city things or waste as they see fit and also makes money in the FUTURE when the land ownership is transferred and improvements have… Read more »

Zach Rugar
Zach Rugar
4 months ago

Hope the coliseum is still being saved from demolition. It can still be a great place if someone is willing to put some work into it. Would be a great place to restart a hockey team too.

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
4 months ago
Reply to  Zach Rugar

Sorry, but at this point the ship has sailed and it needs to be town down, it’s been neglected too long.
I honestly feel the City can’t handle a project like this.

Myron Howard
Myron Howard
4 months ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

I agree, it is an outdated building that keeps us in the past that needs to be removed and made room for the future of Richmond. We have great source of college youth in playing professional sports in an arena we can all be proud of.

Last edited 4 months ago by Myron Howard
Peter James
Peter James
4 months ago
Reply to  Zach Rugar

I’m afraid I must respectfully disagree. The Coliseum is so outdated and of insufficient size that it is both beyond salvagable and a huge detriment to the city. If Richmond is to re-start hockey, it needs a fresh, new, modern arena – and one of comparable size to compete with venues in Charlottesville and the new arena Virginia Beach has been putting together. Obviously, arenas are essentially useless right now during the pandemic – but at some point, one hopes we will be able to get back to some semblance of pre-Covid public events. When that time arrives, Richmond needs… Read more »

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
4 months ago
Reply to  Zach Rugar

Sorry, but it seems to me that if the city MUST build an arena, they should not do it on prime downtown real estate and rather go large in some outlying area — maybe on the Southside — IDK — somewhere where the land is cheap, the area needs a revitalization, it is close to the highway, and where it won’t be an eyesore or problem (traffic during events) to the neighborhood. Everyone has visions of Camden Yards or the Fenway or whatever but even Camden Yards is not right in the thick of downtown but rather birthed a new… Read more »