City marketing ‘The Diamond District’ as it seeks redevelopment proposals

Now dubbed The Diamond District, the City of Richmond is beginning the process to redevelop The Diamond and the land surrounding it on North Arthur Ashe Boulevard. (Courtesy city documents)

With a new neighborhood name in tow, the city is taking steps to begin fielding pitches for the potential redevelopment of a major chunk of Arthur Ashe Boulevard.

The City of Richmond announced Monday that it has begun marketing the redevelopment of what it has now formally dubbed as “The Diamond District,” the 67-acre, largely city-owned assemblage along Arthur Ashe Boulevard made up in part by land where The Diamond, the Arthur Ashe Junior Athletic Center and Sports Backers Stadium currently stand.

A standalone website — rvadiamond.com — as well as a site on Richmond’s city website were launched as part of the marketing effort.

With the marketing underway, the city said its next step will be releasing a request for interest (RFI), a process that will provide more details on the city’s goals for the property, how the city will select a development team, deadlines for response submissions, and other details.

City spokesman Jim Nolan said in an email Monday that the RFI’s scope and the length of the response window are not yet available. He did say the RFI is on track to be released by the end of the calendar year.

An aerial shot of the area surrounding The Diamond. (BizSense file photo)

It’s unclear if the RFI will precede a separate request for proposals (RFP), which typically solicit more specific details about development projects. Henrico County used an RFI to begin its reimagining of Belmont Golf Course.

The city’s recently approved master plan outlines for the land a new multi-purpose stadium replacing The Diamond to be shared by the Richmond Flying Squirrels and VCU, along with retail and residential buildings, parks and multi-modal transit infrastructure.

The city owns about 60 of the 67 acres in question. VCU owns the remainder.

Flyers from the city show that the Diamond District RFI redevelopment area would not include the former Virginia ABC headquarters adjacent to the Diamond District at 2901 Hermitage Road. With the ABC moving into its new Hanover headquarters, VCU is preparing to purchase the 19-acre parcel. The university has spent the last two years acquiring other land north of The Diamond to be part of its planned athletic village.

Monday’s announcement also marks the first time the city has formally used The Diamond District to describe the area. Nolan said the Diamond District name was developed by the city in-house.

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Brian Glass
Brian Glass
15 days ago

A suggestion to The City of Richmond. Please review the RFP’s from about 5 years ago for this property. It should make it somewhat easier to determine the “highest and best use,” for the property going forward.

Michael Dodson
Michael Dodson
14 days ago
Reply to  Brian Glass

LOL good idea Brian; If they can find it or anyone who might have been around back then!

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
14 days ago
Reply to  Brian Glass

I’m no expert but it seems that what is possible has changed somewhat in five years.

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
14 days ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

Things have changed by several magnitudes. We’re going to get better proposals.

Tim Harper
Tim Harper
14 days ago

It should be interesting when potential investors come from places like New York and DC expecting to find a jewelry industry there.

Michelle Reynolds
Michelle Reynolds
14 days ago

I am a little confused. The RFI area DOES NOT include the former ABC site at 2901 Hermitage that VCU is purchasing yet the RFI outline plan DOES expect a multi purpose stadium for VCU/Squirrels?

Just let VCU do their thing with the stadium on the Hermitage site. It would be a failure to try to shoehorn it back into the Boulevard site under city control. What was the point of even waiting the 3-4 years of musical chairs with the ABC headquarters property if that land was not the future site for the stadium?

Justin Fritch
Justin Fritch
14 days ago

I suspect that will be part of the RFP, which will set more specific goals for the stadium development.

Michael Dodson
Michael Dodson
14 days ago
Reply to  Justin Fritch

RFP is NOT going to include the old ABC site. That site will be VCU athletic village that is all. That VCU plan is finalized; the new facility will have 18 tennis courts, multiuse courts, a soccer field and a practice field, as well as indoor and outdoor tracks. VCU is a part of the SportsBackers site and does not want to give up the land. I mean go to Charlottesville and look around Scott’s stadium and JPJ. Lot of student used facilities but students come and go. We are going to have a stadium with surface parking along Hermitage… Read more »

Dr. Abe C. Gomez
Dr. Abe C. Gomez
13 days ago

I wonder if city council will end up being “too tired” to see this process through just like Navy Hill? How much tax payer money will the politicians of Richmond waste this time?

Last edited 13 days ago by Dr. Abe C. Gomez
Ed Christina
Ed Christina
13 days ago

Navy Hill appeared to me to be Stoney acting as a proxy for Tom Farrell.

Those two didn’t get buy in from others.

The Diamond area seems more organically desirable, especially as Scott’s
Addition fills up.

It would be great to get Pulse buses going down Arthur Ashe, and have the new Squirrels /VCU baseball facility on the pulse line.

Brandon Blair
Brandon Blair
13 days ago

They will get too tired. Wouldn’t be Richmond if they didn’t and we’re going to look up and the developer will jump to Henrico.

Roger Turner
Roger Turner
12 days ago

Or they will tie the “award” to a bunch of activities or goals that meet their social agenda as opposed to the “highest and best economic use”. That was part of the reason they got such poor response from the Coliseum RFP or why I think the new Casino is going to be a failure. Let the best companies develop the area and use those tax proceeds to do social programs. Don’t tie the two together to determine a “winner”.

Ed Wren
Ed Wren
11 days ago

I understand the Diamond has been around a long while and needs to be replaced with newer version. If it doesn’t go through and Squirrels are left homeless will that mean no baseball? Yes its Minor League but it does bring in profit for the city and lots of people go to the games especially if fireworks are after. My point: I hope they see this through and realize how much backlash/outrage they will receive.