With half the field getting the boot this week by the city, three players now remain in the competition to build a casino in Richmond.
Mayor Levar Stoney’s office announced Wednesday it has narrowed the field of casino proposals it’s considering in half, with proposals from The Cordish Cos., Bally’s Corp. and Urban One moving on in the process as finalists.
Proposals from the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, Wind Creek Hospitality and Golden Nugget Hotels & Casinos missed the cut.
The city is expected to select a single preferred proposal this summer, after which city residents will get to vote on whether the project can move forward via referendum on Nov. 2.
The three remaining proposals are as follows:
- • Cordish Cos.: A 250,000-square-foot casino and 300-room hotel under the “Live!” brand, planned for 17 acres of wooded land owned by Bow Tie Partners at 1301 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd.
• Bally’s Corp.: A casino and 250-room hotel totaling over 1.6 million square feet on 61 acres of land at the northeast intersection of Powhite and Chippenham parkways. Bally’s also said it is considering a project for a second site but has not disclosed where that is.
- • Urban One: A $517 million resort casino in the city’s Southside at 2001 Walmsley Blvd. with a 150-room hotel, 3,000-seat theater and room for 12 bars and restaurants. The project would total 300,000 square feet.
The city said in Wednesday’s announcement that Cordish, Bally’s and Urban One stood out because they provided “detailed financial and operational analyses to support their vision.”
The city added that proposals from the Pamunkey, Wind Creek and Golden Nugget were cut due to things like lack of site control and organizational experience, and concerns about the feasibility of financial projections.
The Pamunkey’s proposal was for a site about a mile from Urban One’s location. Wind Creek was similarly eyeing the Southside with plans to build on a 47-acre industrial site at 1260 Ingram Ave. toward the southern end of Manchester. Golden Nugget was planning its casino on the same site that Bally’s has proposed.
None of the final three proposals own the real estate they plan to build on, city property records show.
A nine-person, city-appointed evaluation panel is reviewing the proposals with the help of Louisiana-based consulting firm Convergence Strategy Group, which it hired for $120,000 in January.
The city began holding community meetings regarding the casino proposals earlier this month. The next one is scheduled to be held virtually at 6 p.m. March 31.
Despite missing the cut at this stage, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe could still possibly build a casino in town.
As a federally recognized tribe by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Pamunkey can apply to the U.S. Department of the Interior to place land it now owns in a trust, making it part of the Pamunkey’s reservation and its own sovereign nation. The tribe’s ancestral land once covered much of the modern Richmond region.
Should that happen, the land would not be subject to zoning laws or local taxes, meaning it could theoretically build a casino on its own. It’s unclear whether the Pamunkey will pursue that avenue.
In a statement, Chief Robert Gray said they were shocked to miss the cut.
“The timing of the decision, which comes before the public comment period has even concluded, seriously undermines confidence in the selection process and suggests a predetermined outcome has been reached,” Gray said.