Nearly a year to the day that a majority of its members voted down the controversial Navy Hill plan, a unanimous Richmond City Council on Monday approved a portion of the project that was decidedly uncontroversial by comparison.
In a specially called meeting, councilmembers adopted three ordinances authorizing the sale of the city’s Public Safety Building property and adopting a development agreement with Capital City Partners, which is planning a 20-story, VCU Health-anchored tower and mixed-use office complex on the bulk of the 3-acre property at 500 N. 10th St.
The $325 million project also would involve a reconnection of East Clay Street between Ninth and 10th streets, for which the council declared a portion of the property as surplus.
Following a public hearing in which numerous speakers voiced support for the project — particularly its involvement of VCU Health and providing new facilities for local nonprofits The Doorways and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Richmond — councilmembers likewise praised the proposal and the efforts of city administrators who negotiated the deal.
Councilmembers also noted anticipated real estate tax revenue from the development, projected to total nearly $60 million over the first 25 years. That’s on top of the negotiated sale price of $3.52 million that likewise would add to the city’s coffers.
The project is a variation of what was known as “Block D” in Navy Hill, a $1.5 billion plan that included replacing The Coliseum and relied in part on tax-incremental financing. A council majority last February voted down that plan, which was designed by the same development team behind CCP.
That team includes Michael Hallmark of Richmond-based Future Cities, and Susan Eastridge of Northern Virginia-based Concord Eastridge. Hallmark and Eastridge, who are also behind the $2.3 billion arena-anchored GreenCity development in Henrico, were represented in their negotiations with the city by local attorney Mark Kronenthal with Roth Jackson Gibbons Condlin.
Per the development agreement, CCP is assuming responsibility for all demolition and public infrastructure costs related to the development and street extension.
Other terms are aimed at providing job training and hiring local construction workers, with CCP required to create a $500,000 fund over five years to support small businesses leasing space in the development, student scholarships, and other forms of community assistance.
Initially proposed last May at $350 million, the slightly scaled-down project calls for over 90,000 square feet of spec Class A office space, reduced from the original plan for a 150,000-square-foot spec space. The number of structured parking spaces also has been reduced from 1,900 to 1,200, with up to 200 of those to be made available for city employees.
The rest of the proposed development remains largely the same, with 150,000 square feet of administrative and office space for VCU Health; a 125,000-square-foot space with 145 guest rooms for The Doorways; a 65,000-square-foot space with 60 guest rooms for Ronald McDonald House; and 20,000 square feet of ground-level retail, including a pharmacy.
The development also would include 35,000 square feet of childcare space for VCU employees, with at least 20 percent of childcare slots made available at the same cost for city residents not employed by the health system or university.
The project would relocate the existing GRTC transfer station on Ninth Street to the surface parking lot across Ninth from the building. Plans also call for at least 40 percent minority business participation during construction and in the building’s operation.