Three proposals to build casinos make the cut as city winnows field of six

Bally’s is proposing to redevelop wooded land near the intersection of Powhite and Chippenham. (Courtesy of Bally’s Corp.)

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.
  • The Cordish Cos. built a 17-story, 310-room hotel and event center at its Maryland Live Casino. (Courtesy of The Cordish Cos.)

    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.

Urban One’s proposal for a casino in Southside. (Courtesy of Urban One)

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.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
40 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Andrew reder
Andrew reder
24 days ago

Im surprised casino proposals were removed prior to the actual voting. It’ll be urban one for the win at this rate. I doubt anyone north of the river will choose the only option on Arthur Ashe causing more traffic. The Bally’s location is too close to country living people who will reject its existence. Urban One at this point is the only logical choice to keep NIMBYs happy, and put a casino in the city in an area no one tries to venture to to promote growth anyways.

Fred Squire
Fred Squire
23 days ago
Reply to  Andrew reder

Agree on all points Andrew. Would love to see the list of names who decided this for the City and a resume of their experience making such decisions as well.

I’m not surprised one bit by how this is going down. Cuing up the lawsuits by the tribe here shortly I would imagine.

Betsy Gardner
Betsy Gardner
22 days ago
Reply to  Fred Squire

Here they are. As for experience in making such decisions, my faith will be a little lacking. Prepare for Community Input Meetings that are just for show and to check that box to say they had them. Decision is likely already made. Members of the Evaluation Panel are:   Councilmember Andreas Addison Councilmember Ellen Robertson Lincoln Saunders, Acting Chief Administrative Officer Chief Melvin Carter, Department of Fire and Emergency Services Sharon Ebert, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Planning and Economic Development Robert Steidel, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Operations Leonard Sledge, Director of the Department of Economic Development Valaryee Mitchell,… Read more »

Ashley Smith
Ashley Smith
23 days ago
Reply to  Andrew reder

This is the Stoney administration. I am not surprised, but definitely disappointed to see the process unfold in this way. The administration knew who they would select prior to all of this. They just have to go through the semantics because look how Navy Hill ended up unraveling. I suppose they chose to fake the process this time instead of bypassing it all together.

Also, I thought it was previously mentioned that Cordish had purchased the Bowtie property. Seems funky that none of the proposals passing the first cut actually own the property. That’s a head scratcher for me.

Justin Fritch
Justin Fritch
23 days ago
Reply to  Ashley Smith

“Seems funky that none of the proposals passing the first cut actually own the property.”

They can place the land under contract without buying, such as the Pamunkey tribe did with the original proposal on Commerce.

Julian Utley
Julian Utley
23 days ago
Reply to  Justin Fritch

That would be the smart thing to do!

Michael Dodson
Michael Dodson
23 days ago
Reply to  Ashley Smith

You want a REAL head scratcher…SITE CONTROL was one of the big factors in determining which ones to move forward for more review. Ownership seems it would score better than options or contracts but hey as others have mentioned this is a farce. Only thing pre-determined is the Stoney administration will screw it up.

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
23 days ago
Reply to  Ashley Smith

Most development occurs on contracted land that closes prior to construction.

Andy Gagne
Andy Gagne
23 days ago
Reply to  Andrew reder

country living people” wth are you talking about?

Travis Jordan
Travis Jordan
23 days ago
Reply to  Andrew reder

Andrew your actually wrong on Bally’s location I know some Chesterfield Residents want the powhite-chippenham location for a casino because county residents wont drive to scotts addition too much for a casino. I am also for that location. Nothing wrong with Urban one running a casino but they have no experience running a casino and they teamed up with Colonial Downs and people who I have spoke with dont want Colonial Downs to have a casino because it would be a monopoly for them since they have a lot of locations right now.

Scott Prewitt
Scott Prewitt
22 days ago
Reply to  Travis Jordan

Except that Chesterfield residents aren’t involved in the decision, so doesn’t matter what they want. They don’t have a council rep; they’re not voting in the referendum in the fall. So the people who matter are those that live in Forest Hill and Stratford Hills and there is NO WAY they want a casino right there. This is such a terrible place for a casino, makes no sense. No reason to increase traffic in a fairly residentially focused area.

Ashley Smith
Ashley Smith
23 days ago

Interesting. While the City has a permit for one casino, the Pamunkey tribe could bypass this whole process and go the Federal permission route, which could then open up our region to more than one casino.

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
23 days ago

I’m surprised to see the site on Arthur Ashe and Leigh described as “wooded”. It doesn’t fell that way when I go to the movie theatres on the site. The Powhite site is definitely “wooded” but I don’t understand how it’s accessed. Would the Janke Road interchange be redone somehow or would there be new ramps off the Powhite? Could the toll booths be incorporated so there would be a lever installed, offering the driver a quick “slot machine” opportunity for a win? That could start something new nationally. We should think out of the box regardless of the location.

Ashley Smith
Ashley Smith
23 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

The Arthur Ashe site is definitely wooded, just not necessarily the prominent part of the lot as one is driving/biking.

I do not see how that site could ever handle the car traffic though. It’d be my preferred location, but does not seem feasible without some major changes to roads in and around the area.

David Humphrey
David Humphrey
23 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

The Powhite site is supposed to access from Chippenham and Powhite, but also have access to Forest Hill Avenue. In my opinion the access to Forest Hill is a no go. They’re rebuilding a portion of that now, but it still won’t be enough to handle traffic like this. If you want to attract people from outside the area, put it as close to 95 as possible!

Michael Dodson
Michael Dodson
23 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

Bruce thank you for the morning comedy relief; I will never think of the toll booths the same. The original RVA one-arm bandit!

Mike Jennings
Mike Jennings
23 days ago

Probably the best thing that could have happened to the Pamunkey Tribe…..not going into business with the City of Richmond.

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
23 days ago

Am i missing something, or can the Pamunkey tribe build a site and not pay taxes on it ( because they are a tribe? )So has the city pretty much guaranteed that they are going to get competition, AND miss out on taxes for one site ?

Last edited 23 days ago by Ed Christina
Mark Osborne
Mark Osborne
23 days ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

You are not missing anything. The tribe can and probably will build a site in direct competition with whoever is picked, probably urban one. And because it will be an Indian casino the state and the city can’t regulate the casino and can’t tax the land, revenue, hotel tax, meal tax, and any other tax. Without being taxed the tribe can operate cheaper and offer better odds then state regulated competition. This fact may effect how people vote yes or no for the casino referendum. It may also effect the plans of whoever gets the casino if they know they… Read more »

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
23 days ago
Reply to  Mark Osborne

Actually this is not their land so they c,annoy declare sovereignty.

William Blaine
William Blaine
22 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

All they need to do is buy it. Any Indian land owned by the tribe can be put into trust and it becomes Indian land not subject to state laws.

Travis Jordan
Travis Jordan
23 days ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

Ed I will have to do more research on that.

Last edited 23 days ago by Travis Jordan
SA Chaplin
SA Chaplin
23 days ago

I generally oppose government regulations, but with the following three exceptions: drugs/alcohol, gambling and prostitution. Thousand of years of history have shown these three enterprises to be destructive. Casinos in Richmond will be be a scourge on our community. Nothing will be gained by their presence, and much will be damaged. Of course, some pockets will be lined.

Scott Prewitt
Scott Prewitt
22 days ago
Reply to  SA Chaplin

Good point! Agree – thousands a years have shown these enterprises to be destructive. I’m hoping that the casino will be voted down in the fall and we’ll have zero!

John Gerencser
John Gerencser
22 days ago

I believe the best option is for a Casino is the Arthur Ashe Blvd. option. The city would like to see that area become a destination entertainment area. There are already lots of breweries, restaurants and other entertainment options in the area. If we must have a Casino, this area is the best choice. There are very few residents in the area, none that I know of immediately in the vicinity, and good traffic connections. It could be a catalyst for filling out Scott’s Addition to make it an urban playground.

Scott Prewitt
Scott Prewitt
22 days ago
Reply to  John Gerencser

The Fan/Museum District and Jackson Ward are RIGHT THERE. We can hear noise/road congestion noise from that area. This is a terrible location for a casino.

John Gerencser
John Gerencser
22 days ago
Reply to  Scott Prewitt

Jackson Ward is pretty far away, and the fan/Museum district is on the other side of Broad St. Northside is separated by I-95 and Scott’s Addition already draws people from all over the region. IF a Casino must be built this is probably the best place in the city for it. You cannot get away from neighbourhoods anywhere in the city.

Scott Prewitt
Scott Prewitt
18 days ago
Reply to  John Gerencser

Wrong – I can hear the traffic in Scott’s Addition pretty clearly from the Fan. Broad Street is not some magical sound barrier – in fact, it is the source of a lot of the road noise (huge uptick in motorcycles there since the pandemic started). Don’t tell me what it is true.

Justin Fritch
Justin Fritch
18 days ago
Reply to  Scott Prewitt

How would this be any worse than hearing the rail-line it is immediately adjacent to or the expressway that is nearly as close (or next door in Jackson Ward’s case)? Never-mind the beer gardens and ballpark.

Agreed on the motorcycles, though. They have significantly increased over the past year with radios competing over their pipes.

Austin Scott
Austin Scott
22 days ago
Reply to  John Gerencser

It’s a thriving urban area and is going to gain many more residents in the future. Casinos don’t mix well into the urban fabric, because the majority of people visiting will be driving there instead of walking/biking/transit. The boulevard site would be much better utilized by a mixed-use development

Lee Gaskins
Lee Gaskins
22 days ago
Reply to  John Gerencser

The Northside neighborhoods are right there! Not to mention The Hermitage facility for our eldery, Bellevue, Ginter Park, Holton Elementary School, and Veritas School. Vote this down!! We do not need a casino so close to schools! And who thinks it’s a good idea to further clog up the Bryan Park interchange!? C’mon, Richmond!

Michelle Reynolds
Michelle Reynolds
22 days ago

Who is paying for the roads improvements around the chosen casino site? The state? The applicant? Because if it is the city then that supposed 30 million per year tax revenue, which is probably optimistic to begin with, evaporates quickly…

Justin Fritch
Justin Fritch
18 days ago

Per city meetings, it is up to the applicant to fund needed infrastructure (though they did point out the VDOT is going to improve the I-95/64 and Boulevard interchange regardless). What the range of that requirement consists of would certainly be nice to know.

Betsy Gardner
Betsy Gardner
22 days ago

A local casino is a tide we can’t stop…I get that. But, I feel like it is such a bad idea in our area. All of the destination advantages it will give with people travelling in for it will be offset by the hurt it causes in the poorer communities. And petty crimes of theft will go up for the quick buck to go try a chance.

Arnold H Hager
Arnold H Hager
22 days ago
Reply to  Betsy Gardner

I give it 5 maybe 10 years max and it will be a dump. For a viable casino to work you will need strong security following strict law and order policies to attract the high rollers. Anything less and you might as well put slot machines in some of the local breweries. Bally’s could possibly make it work if they are allowed to run it like their Vegas Hotel, which means most locals won’t get a sniff of the inside entertainment. But I doubt local officials will be willing to exclude their voters access, other than employment opportunities. High Rollers… Read more »

Last edited 22 days ago by Arnold H Hager
Arnold H Hager
Arnold H Hager
21 days ago
Reply to  Arnold H Hager

After just speaking with my wife, I want add to my comment. Perhaps I came off sounding a bit harsh and cynical. That was not my intention. I was just trying to be real. I hope a casino in Richmond can be successful. Whenever I visit a casino I seek out the poker tables. That’s my favorite game and can play for hours at a time. I am not a High Roller. I enjoy a good time like most people but I also know Richmond pretty well or at least I did. Born in Richmond and living there for 46… Read more »

Scott Prewitt
Scott Prewitt
18 days ago
Reply to  Betsy Gardner

We can ABSOLUTELY stop it. Through our vote in the fall on whether to have one or not in the city.

Thomas Haymes
Thomas Haymes
18 days ago

I feel like if the casino were to happen, it would be better if it were further away from residents and the roads they use every day. Somewhere a bit further out like the Capital One campus. Mostly, I don’t wanna lose the movie theatre or see rent in these neighborhoods go up.

Fred Squire
Fred Squire
18 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Haymes

Ignoring this being a City initiative, I’m positive Goochland will not approve a casino of any form or function next to Kinloch. If the county is scared of a Walmart I am pretty sure a casino will push some of their county’s residents into a mild form cardiac arrest. I’m sure Hanover isn’t far from this as well. The Live Casino in Arundel Mills is not a benefit to any of the local residents and has only increased crime in the areas around the 1 casino. This is not a secret. Most folks won’t want a casino anywhere near their… Read more »

Arnold H Hager
Arnold H Hager
17 days ago
Reply to  Fred Squire

I agree. A single standing casino is useless, only creates a monopoly. I would prefer to let locals open their own places. Vegas has many small, local places off the strip, that most tourist are not aware of, neighborhood joints, like poolhalls of years ago and sports bars, spreading the profits around to small local business owners. The State allows lottery tickets to be sold most anywhere, so they should allow slots in the same places. Table games are a different issue and likely need regulations and oversight. If existing hotels can’t manage table gambling, then a casino will rob… Read more »