And then there were two.
The City of Richmond announced Friday it has narrowed down its finalist field for the Diamond District project from three development teams to two.
The remaining teams vying for the project are: Richmond Community Development Partners, led by Machete Group, JMA Ventures and Tryline Capital; and RVA Diamond Partners, led by Republic Properties Corp., Thalhimer Realty Partners and Loop Capital.
Eliminated from contention is Vision300 Partners, led by Freehold Capital Management with members including Brookfield Properties and Hourigan. Freehold is a Boston-based firm with an office in Scott’s Addition.
In addition to Hourigan, Vision300 included several other Richmond-based members, including housing nonprofit Better Housing Coalition, hospitality giant Shamin Hotels and developer Spy Rock Real Estate Group. Other local team members included YMCA of Greater Richmond, Metropolitan Business League, staffing and consulting firm Astyra Corp., construction firm Canterbury Enterprises, and youth athletics group Sports United Ltd.
A release from the city states the cut was based on the project’s evaluation criteria. It does not specify which criteria the Vision300 team did not meet.
Maritza Pechin, the city’s Diamond District project manager, said she couldn’t comment further on specific reasons why Vision300 was eliminated.
In a statement Friday, Freehold Capital’s Casey Tischer said: “While we regret that Vision300’s proposal will not advance further, we appreciated the opportunity to assemble a remarkable group of community partners who committed to work with us and the leaders of our great city on this project.”
The statement added, “We are a team of Richmonders and we remain deeply committed to the success of our city. The Diamond District project presents a fantastic opportunity to build a stronger, more equitable Richmond, and we will be here in Richmond rooting for its success.”
The city’s release stated the project’s evaluation panel continues negotiations with the two remaining teams and anticipates announcing its selection by the end of the summer. An announcement had been expected by the end of July, but in an update to the City Council late last month, administrators remained noncommittal on a timeline for a selection.
The city has compiled an FAQ with responses to questions related to the project scope, evaluation panel and process, financing, baseball stadium, infrastructure and services, housing, community benefits and adjacent development. The document is posted on the project’s website.
The FAQ states that panel members “have been in communications with the finalists to test financial assumptions to fully understand the stadium and infrastructure financing. These discussions enable the Evaluation Panel to recommend the best development team with the best financial proposal to fulfill the City’s vision for the Diamond District.”
The winning team will work with the city to redevelop the 67-acre, largely city-owned site, which includes The Diamond and the VCU-owned Sports Backers Stadium. The 37-year-old Diamond has been deemed unfeasible for renovation and would be replaced with a new 10,000-capacity stadium that would anchor the larger mixed-use development.
The city’s solicitation for the project 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.
Earlier last week, the Greater Scott’s Addition Association endorsed RVA Diamond Partners as the neighborhood group’s preferred Diamond District team, based on results of an analysis that its board members conducted in recent months. The board met with and received individual presentations from each of the three finalists and held an anonymous ranked-choice vote, according to the group.
Of 16 votes cast, RVA Diamond Partners received 75 percent of the vote and Richmond Community Development Partners received 25 percent. Vision300 received no votes, with four of the board’s 20 members recusing themselves due to ties to teams that have vied for the project.
Association President Rob Long said the group was sharing its findings as a stakeholder in the project, which is across Arthur Ashe Boulevard from the Scott’s Addition area. The findings are not part of the evaluation criteria for the project.
RVA Diamond Partners is led by Republic Properties Corp., a D.C.-based firm whose mixed-use developments there include Washington Harbour on the Georgetown waterfront, Georgetown Park, Market Square and The Portals.
It’s working with Richmond-based developer Thalhimer Realty Partners and Loop Capital, a Chicago-based investment bank that’s involved in the redevelopment of the Oakland Coliseum site in California and new terminals at LaGuardia Airport and JFK Airport in New York.
DLR Group and JMI Sports are the team’s stadium designer and development consultant, respectively. DLR’s minor-league baseball credits include Fluor Field stadium in Greenville, South Carolina, while JMI worked on Chase Center in San Francisco and Petco Park, home to Major League Baseball’s San Diego Padres.
The team’s lead architect is New York-based Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and its hotel developer is Maryland-based Capstone Development. Its residential developers are Philadelphia-based Pennrose, Maryland-based NixDev and Richmond-based Southside Community Development & Housing Corp. Contractors on the team include Breeden Construction, Emerge Construction Group, M Companies, Prestige Construction and Whiting-Turner, all locally based.
In a statement, the team said it is ready to get to work on the Diamond District and deliver a new stadium by the start of the 2025 baseball season, the deadline set by Major League Baseball for all pro venues to meet new facility standards.
“We believe RVA Diamond Partners and the City would make a great team, and we are standing by with boots on the ground ready to go in order to meet the City’s timeline,” the statement said.
“With minority-owned businesses at every level – including ownership – and leadership with deep roots in the Commonwealth, this team has the local personnel and expertise necessary to execute a project of this scope.”
The statement added that the team stands out for its experience developing, owning and operating mixed-use real estate and “a strong personal interest in ensuring Richmond gets the ballpark and inclusive community it deserves.”
“We have a record we are proud of and we will put it up against anyone else’s,” the team said.
Richmond Community Development Partners is led by Machete Group, a Houston-based venue advisory and development management firm whose sports and entertainment work has included Barclays Center in New York City, Chase Center in San Francisco, Amway Center in Orlando, and Toyota Center in Houston.
Also on the team is JMA Ventures, a San Francisco-based firm that developed Sacramento’s Downtown Commons, a mixed-use shopping and entertainment complex beside Golden 1 Center, home to the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.
Another team affiliate includes Sterling Project Development, a New York-based firm that developed the New York Mets’ Citi Field stadium and whose parent company, Sterling Equities, once owned the Major League Baseball team.
Other team members include several firms either based in Richmond or with a track record here, such as construction firm Gilbane, hotel management and advisory firm Retro Hospitality, architecture firm Hanbury and engineering firm VHB.
Machete Group’s David Carlock said the team stands out for its experience in arena and stadium development and in mixed-use districts that are anchored by them.
“We view that as one of the strongest points of our team,” Carlock said. “That’s the most time-sensitive part of this project: hitting the ground running on the stadium and making sure that that project can be delivered successfully. We felt we were the best-equipped team to do that when there were 15 respondents, and we continue to believe that today.”
Carlock said community engagement is another emphasis of the team, with Richmond-based members including VCU’s School for Urban Design, planning nonprofit Storefront for Community Design, environmental consultant Biohabitats and recent addition Todd Waldo of Hugh Helen LLC, a diversity consulting firm.
“We’ve assembled a team that reflects fully our vision for equitable and resilient development,” Carlock said. “We think that’s the right answer broadly for the Diamond District and are also committed to comprehensively engaging with the community on ensuring that we align the outcomes with what the community’s hopes are.”