And then there were three.
The City of Richmond on Tuesday announced three finalists that it’s inviting to submit detailed proposals for the Diamond District redevelopment, which will transform the 67-acre site along Arthur Ashe Boulevard and add a new baseball stadium to replace The Diamond.
The three finalists are:
• Richmond Community Development Partners, led by Machete Group, JMA Ventures and Tryline Capital.
• RVA Diamond Partners, led by Republic Properties Corp., Thalhimer Realty Partners and Loop Capital.
• Vision300 Partners LLC, led by Freehold Capital Management with members including Brookfield Properties and Hourigan.
An evaluation panel consisting of city and VCU officials selected the finalists from among six teams that had been whittled down from 15 initial responses. Tuesday’s announcement said the latest selections were made based on each team’s design, program strength, community benefits and financing approaches.
The finalists will be asked to respond to a formal request for offers that’s to be issued May 30, with responses due back to the city June 28. The city anticipates announcing its preferred team and terms of the agreement in July.
Conceptual plans and renderings that the three teams provided for illustrative purposes all propose placing the new stadium at the city’s preferred location: beside the boulevard and the CSX rail line in the project area’s southwest corner, with a pedestrian crossing connecting the site to the south side of the rail line at the Movieland at Boulevard Square property.
Other buildings in the development would primarily line the site’s borders along the boulevard, Hermitage Road and the interstate, with a pedestrian mall or linear park running through the middle of the site.
Renderings submitted by Richmond Community Development Partners show a 20-plus-story tower beside the new stadium and the rail line, as well as other tall buildings along the boulevard and north of the Arthur Ashe Jr. Athletic Center closer to the interstate.
RVA Diamond Partners’ tallest building appears to be at the boulevard and the interstate at the site’s northern end. Vision300 Partners’ rendering shows similar density there, and its described concept calls for a new concert venue and a new YMCA branch.
Richmond is looking for one or more teams to collaborate with on redeveloping the largely city-owned 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 Richmond 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.
Led by Houston-based Machete Group, San Francisco-based developer JMA Ventures and New York-based Tryline Capital, Richmond Community Development Partners includes housing developers Enterprise Community Partners and Gilbane Development Co.; hotel management and advisory firm Retro Hospitality and others, according to a team profile included with the city’s announcement. Tryline Capital’s involvement had not previously been mentioned in the group’s interview with BizSense last month.
RVA Diamond Partners, led by D.C.-based Republic Properties Corp., local developer Thalhimer Realty Partners and Chicago-based Loop Capital, includes residential developers Pennrose, NixDev and Southside Community Development & Housing Corp.; hotel developer Capstone Development; contractor M Companies; and stadium team DLR Group and JMI Sports, among others.
Vision300 Partners, led by Freehold Capital Management, includes mixed-use developer Brookfield Properties; housing nonprofit Better Housing Coalition; staffing and consulting firm Astyra Corp.; developers Greenstone Properties, KDC and Spy Rock Real Estate Group; hotel developer Shamin Hotels; contractors Hourigan and Canterbury Enterprises; and concert venue operator Live Nation, among others.
The three teams cut from consideration are Diamond District Gateway Partners, led by Capital Square, Dantes Partners, Hoffman & Associates and The Velocity Cos.; MAG Partners, led by its namesake development firm and MacFarlane Partners; and the Weller Development Co. and LMXD team.
Mark Hourigan, whose namesake construction firm is on the Vision300 team, provided a comment in response to the city’s announcement.
“The Vision 300 Team is excited that the evaluation panel recognized the strength of this team of local business leaders that are knowledgeable about what Richmond needs along with partners that bring national perspective and financial strength,” Hourigan said in an email.
“We know there are more steps in the process, and we look forward to working with the City of Richmond over the next few weeks to share a vision that will benefit all of the citizens of Richmond and will transform the region.”
RVA Diamond Partners offered the following statement on its selection:
“RVA Diamond Partners has created a plan for a transformational urban village where people can live, work, enjoy the outdoors and have fun,” the statement said. “Our team of national and local experts will develop a place that captures and complements the vibrant and upbeat personality of Richmond through unique design elements, plentiful open spaces for residents to enjoy and a stadium that offers a full entertainment experience.”
Richmond Community Development Partners also responded to its selection, adding that its proposal includes “a reimagined and revitalized” Arthur Ashe Jr. Athletic Center. The city’s solicitation had suggested the center’s uses be relocated from its current site.
“RCDP brings deep national experience on stadium design and stadium district financing, and construction coupled with dedicated local partners steeped in the history, traditions and culture of Richmond,” the team’s statement said.
“Our promise to design and deliver an inclusive neighborhood that becomes Richmond’s next great place is reinforced by our commitment to community engagement and working with all stakeholders to ensure the Diamond District maximizes its potential as a source of empowerment and opportunity.”
According to the announcement, the evaluation panel will select the winning project using project criteria and public input. More information about the process and proposals is available on the city’s Diamond District webpage, where the public can submit comments and questions.
A public meeting on the process and proposals is to be held in early June. Details for the meeting are to be posted on the site at a later date.
The city is aiming for the selection to be made in July. Final approval would be made by the nine-member City Council, with a seven-vote supermajority required.
The evaluation panel’s membership includes:
- • James Duval, investment and debt portfolio manager with the city’s finance department;
- • Sharon Ebert, city deputy chief administrative officer for planning and economic development;
- • Karol Kain Gray, senior vice president and CFO of VCU;
- • Katherine Jordan, City Councilmember, Second District;
- • Ann-Frances Lambert, City Councilmember, Third District;
- • Lincoln Saunders, city chief administrative officer;
- • Leonard Sledge, city economic development director;
- • Caprichia Smith Spellman, interim director, city office of community wealth building;
- • Robert Steidel, city deputy CAO for operations; and
- • Stephen Willoughby, city emergency communications director.
Advising the panel are Matthew Welch, a city policy advisor on planning and economic development; and Lynne Lancaster, deputy director with the city’s public works department. Maritza Pechin is the city’s project manager.
Note: This story has been updated with comments from the Richmond Community Development Partners team received after publication.