Rounding out the field of development teams vying for Richmond’s Diamond District project is a group led by two firms experienced in mixed-use developments primarily in New York and Baltimore, including the latter’s massive Port Covington development.
Baltimore-based Weller Development Co. and New York-based LMXD are driving one of the six teams that remain in contention for the 67-acre mixed-use development that’s to include a new baseball stadium to replace The Diamond.
Weller, a 5-year-old firm founded by 20-year developer Marc Weller, is the lead developer on Port Covington, a 235-acre project on South Baltimore’s waterfront that’s planned for up to 18 million square feet, according to the company’s website.
The massive development, with 2½ miles of waterfrontage and immediate access to Interstate 95, is planned to include residential, office and retail uses, along with a hotel, restaurants, entertainment, athletic facilities, a business incubator, cultural space, marinas, piers and 40 acres of public parks and greenspace.
More than 1 million square feet of Port Covington is currently under development, according to Weller, which is working on the project with investment firm Sagamore Ventures and Goldman Sachs’ Urban Investment Group.
Weller’s other Baltimore-area projects include the Sagamore Pendry Baltimore hotel, Sagamore Spirit Distillery, Rye Street Tavern and City Garage, an innovation hub converted from a city bus depot. The company also manages the Reston National golf course in Northern Virginia and developed the 3150 M Street NW retail building in Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood.
LMXD, affiliated with New York-based L+M Development Partners, was recently launched as a development and investment affiliate focused on mixed-income and mixed-use communities. The launch coincided with L+M’s appointment of Lisa Gomez as CEO earlier this year, according to its website.
L+M, a 38-year-old firm founded by Ron Moelis and Sandy Loewentheil, is one of several firms involved in developing Essex Crossing, a 6-acre, $1.9 billion development on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
That project is planned to include more than 1,000 units of rental and for-sale housing, over half of which will be permanent income-based units or senior housing. It’s also planned for over 700,000 square feet of commercial space, 350,000 square feet of office space, 100,000 square feet of community and cultural facility space, and 100,000 square feet of park and greenspace.
Other L+M projects include Alafia, a 28-acre site in Brooklyn with 2,400 low-income and supportive housing units, 30,000 square feet of health care space, open space, and commercial and community facility space.
Closer to Richmond, LMXD is developing Banner Lane, the first phase of a 7-acre redevelopment in D.C.’s Sursum Corda neighborhood. The phase consists of two buildings totaling 560 residential units.
Joining LMXD and Weller on the Diamond District team are ASM Global, a global venue management company that manages Richmond’s Dominion Energy Center and Altria Theater; and SAA | EVI, a minority-owned, Baltimore-based developer with an office in Richmond.
SAA | EVI owns St. Luke Apartments, a 496-unit complex near Laburnum Avenue and Meadowbridge Road that it purchased and began renovating three years ago. The firm also developed the 103-unit Nelson Kohl Apartments in Baltimore.
Rounding out the group is a design-build team consisting of Maryland-based Clark Construction, its Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate development arm, and Populous, a design firm based in Kansas City, Missouri whose ballparks include Truist Park in Atlanta, Citi Field in New York and the new Yankee Stadium.
The group did not grant requests for an interview but provided a statement to BizSense through a representative. The statement said Weller and LMXD “are honored” to be among the six teams under consideration, adding that they “look forward to this opportunity to partner with the City of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, the Richmond Flying Squirrels, and other local area stakeholders.”
“Our partnership with the City and community will catalyze the future growth of Richmond’s next vibrant and inclusive mixed-use neighborhood and entertainment district,” the statement continued. “We believe our team is uniquely positioned to execute the City’s goals with unparalleled experience in large-scale, public-private developments and an ethos centered around community integration, local hiring, women and minority business support, sustainability, and increased affordability.
“Drawing from the inspiration put forth in the Richmond 300 Master Plan, we believe that our project will emerge not only as one of the country’s premier master-planned entertainment districts and neighborhoods – but as a symbol of Richmond’s innovative future.”
The city is looking for one or more teams to collaborate with on redeveloping the 67-acre site that’s been floated for redevelopment in starts and stops for over a decade.
Driving this latest effort in large part is a deadline set by Major League Baseball for all pro baseball venues to meet new facility standards by the start of the 2025 season. The Flying Squirrels has been promised a new ballpark since the Double-A club’s arrival in 2010.
Deemed unfeasible for renovation, the 37-year-old Diamond would be replaced with a new 10,000-capacity stadium that would anchor the larger mixed-use development. The city’s solicitation calls for office, residential, retail, a hotel and infrastructure upgrades. The residential component would consist of rental and for-sale homes targeted to a mix of income levels.
An evaluation panel is reviewing additional information that the six development teams were required to provide by April 25. The panel is aiming to narrow the field down to a shortlist of finalists, who could be announced as early as next week.
The finalists would be invited to submit proposals by June 6. City officials would then negotiate with one or more of the teams and make a final selection by the end of June.
The other five teams that remain in contention are:
Diamond District Gateway Partners, consisting of local real estate investment firm Capital Square, D.C.-based developers Dantes Partners and Hoffman & Associates, Maryland-based real estate firm The Velocity Cos., architecture firms Baskervill and Pendulum, engineering firms VHB and Froehling & Robertson, and general contractors Clancy & Theys and Barton Malow.
MAG Partners, a New York City-based developer working with Seattle-based developer MacFarlane Partners, D.C.-based developer Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners, real estate investment firm MSquared, architecture firms AtelierTek and Woods Bagot, engineering firms Kimley-Horn and Thornton Tomasetti, sports venue developer CAA Icon, and placemaking and workforce firm C Space.
Richmond Community Development Partners, consisting of Houston-based Machete Group, developers JMA Ventures and Sterling Project Development, construction firm Gilbane, hotel management and advisory firm Retro Hospitality, architecture firm Hanbury, engineering firm VHB and planning nonprofit Storefront for Community Design.
RVA Diamond Partners, consisting of D.C.-based Republic Properties Corp., local developer Thalhimer Realty Partners, Chicago-based Loop Capital, stadium team DLR Group and JMI Sports, lead architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, hotel developer Capstone Development, and residential developers Pennrose, NixDev and Southside Community Development & Housing Corp.
Vision300 Partners LLC, including developers Freehold Communities, Greenstone Properties, KDC and Spy Rock Real Estate Group; local building firm Hourigan; housing nonprofit Better Housing Coalition, construction firm Canterbury Enterprises, Shamin Hotels, YMCA of Greater Richmond, Brookfield Asset Management, and Richmond-based Sports United Ltd.