The first major zoning initiative to come out of the recently adopted Richmond 300 master plan is setting the stage for a long-awaited request for proposals to redevelop The Diamond and surrounding city-owned land.
City planners are pursuing a massive rezoning of what’s referred to in Richmond 300 as “Greater Scott’s Addition” — primarily industrially-zoned areas north of Scott’s Addition proper and generally east of Arthur Ashe Boulevard, including areas around The Diamond and the Hermitage Road corridor south of the interstate.
The rezoning, which would encourage mixed-use development in those areas — and pave the way for what’s envisioned to be a recreational district anchored by a new baseball stadium — is among initial action steps recommended in Richmond 300 to begin implementing its 20-year vision and goals.
It also would set the stage for a long-anticipated RFP to redevelop the 60-acre city-owned site that includes The Diamond and other land along Arthur Ashe Boulevard. Speculation that an RFP was finally in the works after previous stalled attempts and years of debate over replacing the stadiumramped up last year as the Richmond 300 effort entered the home stretch.
City administrators had said the RFP hinged on completion of a small-area plan for Greater Scott’s Addition. That plan, also referred to as the Greater Scott’s Addition Framework Plan, was completed as part of Richmond 300 and is incorporated in the master plan document, which the City Council adopted in December.
Around the time of that adoption, administrators told BizSense that the RFP remained in “scope stage” pending approval of the small-area plan. With the plan in effect as part of Richmond 300, the proposed rezoning is the next step toward issuing the RFP, according to a presentation to be made to the Planning Commission on Tuesday.
The proposal would declare the city’s intent to amend its zoning map to reflect Richmond 300’s future land use recommendations for the area. The presentation to the commission does not specify exact zoning changes to be made, but refers to the Richmond 300 future land use plan, which recommends designations such as “industrial mixed-use” and, between Arthur Ashe Boulevard and Hermitage Road, “destination mixed-use.”
Those designations call for primary uses to include retail, office, multifamily residential, cultural and open space, with building heights of three to eight stories for industrial mixed-use and a minimum of five stories for destination mixed-use.
The Greater Scott’s Addition area is currently zoned for light or heavy industrial development, with a handful of properties zoned B-5 Central Business District. A goal of the rezoning is to reduce or eliminate the need for the city to allow development in the area through special-use permits, a dozen of which have been awarded in that area since 2000.
The destination mixed-use district between Arthur Ashe and Hermitage would set the stage for what Richmond 300 envisions as a crescent-shaped swath of green space that would bisect the area and be anchored by a new baseball stadium on the west side of Hermitage, across from the VCU Athletic Village planned to replace the Virginia ABC headquarters.
The central park-like area would include a greenway with a bridge crossing the tracks, event and gathering areas, and park space stretching across Hermitage as far east as Allen Avenue, according to Richmond 300 renderings.
Sports Backers Stadium, which VCU owns, is not shown in the rendering, though plans for the athletic village include a soccer stadium and track and field complex.
The intent declaration would be followed with notification to affected property owners of the proposed rezoning, community meetings in March, and public hearings and potential adoption in April and May. Hearings would be held at a future commission meeting and before a council vote.
Meanwhile, councilmembers are currently compiling proposed amendments to the Richmond 300 plan, which several members found lacking in certain areas. Last week, members reviewed their amendments with legal counsel en route to a formal proposal at a future meeting.
Public Safety Building sale, Monroe Ward tower on agenda
Also on the commission’s agenda Tuesday are ordinances relating to the city’s proposed sale of the Public Safety Building at 500 N. 10th St. to Capital City Partners, which plans to develop a 20-story, VCU Health-anchored tower and mixed-use office complex on the 3-acre site. The transaction would total $3.52 million, with CCP assuming responsibility for all demolition and public infrastructure costs related to the $325 million project.
Other business includes a special-use permit request related to a planned 15-story student housing tower at 321 W. Grace St. in Monroe Ward. The permit, which was applied for last August, would allow a 171-unit tower and an adjoining parking structure that would replace an existing parking lot on the site. Chicago-based developer Pinecrest bought the roughly half-acre site in November for $2.5 million.