Updated (10:20 a.m.):
Richmond voters have rejected the plan for a casino development on the city’s Southside.
The referendum on Urban One’s $565 million casino and resort complex failed in Tuesday’s elections, with 51.4 percent of the electorate voting against it.
Mayor Levar Stoney, who had thrown his support behind the casino, issued a statement Wednesday morning announcing the failure of the referendum. The state’s Department of Elections has yet to certify the result.
“From the beginning, we said the people would decide. They have spoken, and we must respect their decision,” Stoney said in a prepared statement. “While I believe this was a $565 million opportunity lost to create well-paying jobs, expand opportunity, keep taxes low and increase revenue to meet the needs of our growing city, I am proud of the transparent and public process we went through to listen to our residents and put this opportunity before our voters.”
Stoney, whose administration also backed the failed Navy Hill proposal last year, said his office isn’t finished pitching big ideas. The administration has previously said it expects to formally begin fielding proposals later this year for the redevelopment of more than 60 acres along Arthur Ashe Boulevard, including the site of The Diamond.
“Rest assured, this administration will not be deterred from its ongoing mission to bring other economic development opportunities to our city that will benefit the lives of all who live here,” Stoney said.
The result makes Richmond the only locality in the state to reject a casino via referendum. Last November, referendums for casinos in Portsmouth, Norfolk, Danville and Bristol all received an average of 68 percent of the vote and passed easily.
The Southside casino was proposed for 2001 Walmsley Blvd. by Maryland-based media giant Urban One, along with Colonial Downs and Rosie’s Gaming Emporium owner Peninsula Pacific Entertainment. The duo was seeking to build a 300,000-square-foot complex on land they planned to purchase from Philip Morris.
Last month, Urban One CEO Alfred Liggins said that in the event of the referendum failing in Richmond, he thinks the state government would move to have the matter revisited in one of the surrounding counties.
Liggins expressed his disappointment about the result in a statement Wednesday, describing the result as a missed opportunity for Richmond.
“While extremely disappointed, our entire Urban One family, my mother and business partner Cathy Hughes, and I accept the will of city of Richmond residents,” Liggins said.