With its RFP process for a resort casino already underway, the city’s economic development arm has formally enlisted a consultant to help review the proposals.
The Richmond Economic Development Authority voted Thursday to hire New Orleans-based Convergence Strategy Group to help evaluate RFP responses from prospective casino developers, and assist in negotiations with those developers down the road.
The city issued the casino RFP on Dec. 28, and gave the EDA the authority to hire a consultant.
Economic Development Director Leonard Sledge said during Thursday’s meeting that the EDA is authorized to spend up to $120,000 on a consultant.
Sledge said they received proposals from five other prospective consultants, but said after reviewing them that he and his staff recommended Convergence.
The EDA approved the motion unanimously. Sledge said the exact terms of the agreement with Convergence are still to be determined by EDA Chairman John Molster and the authority’s legal counsel.
Per its website, Convergence offers planning services relating to “gaming, leisure, commercial, tribal and public development partners.” It lists several previous casino developments that it’s advised on.
The deadline for the casino RFP is Feb. 22. Multiple players expressed interest prior to the RFP being issued. The Pamunkey Indian Tribe was the first to publicly declare interest, announcing a plan for a $350 million resort casino near Manchester.
Others said prior to the RFP issuance that they were keeping a close watch on the city’s process, including Urban One, a Maryland-based media company that targets Black audiences and previously helped develop the MGM National Harbor in its home state.
Colonial Downs Group, which operates Rosie’s Gaming Emporium, also is tracking casino happenings in the city, its COO Aaron Gomes confirmed to BizSense late last year.
The Cordish Cos., a Baltimore-based company that counts Norfolk’s commercial Riverside District among its dozens of holdings, is also eyeing Richmond. Its chairman and CEO David Cordish said in a statement last month that he is “following the process closely, and we will make our decision as more details become available.”
A mystery buyer also had been looking at a 17-acre plot along Arthur Ashe Boulevard owned by Bow Tie Partners for a “non-conforming use,” something sources say could be a casino.
BizSense editor Michael Schwartz contributed to this report.