A swath of the city that’s prime for new development is a step closer to being more fully realized after a major zoning overhaul that’s also opening the door to the eventual redevelopment of The Diamond.
The Richmond City Council on Monday approved two zoning initiatives that change and consolidate the land use designations for much of the areas north of Broad Street generally east of Scott’s Addition, where a surge in development activity over the past decade is spilling over into what some are coining “the Diamond District.”
Like Scott’s Addition, that district — generally areas around the baseball stadium between the railroad tracks and the interstate — has begun transitioning from a primarily industrial and manufacturing district to one with a greater mix of uses, including residential and retail.
The zoning changes approved Monday reflect that transition and are meant to help guide and facilitate further growth, in part through a reduction of applications for special-use permits that otherwise have been needed to accommodate newer development there — an area that city planners have referred to as “Greater Scott’s Addition.”
The new zonings — driven by the city’s new Richmond 300 master plan and its Pulse Corridor Plan — emphasize the city’s Transit-Oriented Nodal District, or TOD-1 zoning.
That designation has already been applied along other parts of the GRTC Pulse rapid transit bus line along Broad Street. It encourages denser, mixed-use development that’s designed around walkability and multimodal transportation.
Also emphasized in the new zonings is the city’s B-7 Mixed-Use Business District, which now makes up most of the area north of Scott’s Addition and east of Hermitage Road. The area between Hermitage and Arthur Ashe Boulevard — including the 60-acre, city-owned assemblage that includes The Diamond — is now TOD-1.
Both designations have been implemented in and around Scott’s Addition, encouraging that area’s transition from an industrial district to a mishmash of apartments, offices and breweries.
But the TOD-1 zoning for The Diamond and other city-owned properties is aimed at another goal — a long-sought redevelopment of that site that would add to the city’s real estate tax revenue and provide a new stadium in a nearby location. The latest plans show the new venue being built in the area of the neighboring Sports Backers Stadium.
Leonard Sledge, the city’s economic development director, said the rezoning to TOD-1 makes the city land more attractive to developers and sets the stage for a long-anticipated request for proposals for the site.
“Once the city’s properties are rezoned from (industrial districts) to TOD-1, the value of the land will greatly increase and therefore provide much greater revenues to the city,” Sledge said in an email last week, adding that a request for offers would be issued by the end of this year.
North-of-Fan rezoning approved
Farther south and east along Broad Street, a separate area-wide rezoning was approved for land in and around the Carver and Newtowne West neighborhoods, generally between Hermitage Road and Belvidere Street north of the Fan District.
The rezoning calls for lesser building heights than a previous proposal and integrates TOD-1 on land north of Broad Street between Hermitage and Lombardy Street. It also reassigns some classifications in established residential areas and puts B-5 and B-6 zoning along the south side of Broad.
Where the previous proposal focused heavily on B-4 Central Business District zoning and would have allowed heights of 20 stories or more on some spots along Broad, the TOD-1 emphasized in the new version limits buildings to 12 stories. B-5 limits building heights to five stories and B-6 generally encourages four stories.
The changes come with different parking requirements, which was a concern to Planning Commission members when they voted in support of the plan earlier this month. They did so with a caveat: that the city explore a parking overlay for the area that would address the neighborhoods’ specific parking challenges.
City Councilmember Katherine Jordan, whose Third District includes the area, acknowledged the overlay request in her vote to support the rezoning Monday, as well as a recently approved proposal to amend the city’s zoning code to eliminate parking space minimums.
In light of those moves, and recognizing that concerns with the changes remain among some property owners and neighbors, Jordan said she was willing to support the rezoning now with the understanding that an overlay could be worked in later.
Like the Diamond-area rezoning, the north-of-Broad changes set the stage for new development in the area, which is home to the fast-developing Sauer Center and surrounding Sauer-owned properties, as well as a 12-story building currently under construction at Broad and Lombardy.