Developers and other firms interested in vying for Richmond’s City Center redevelopment project got an up-close look at the site Tuesday morning, three weeks before responses to the city’s request for interest are due.
Representatives from roughly 40 companies took part in a tour of the 9-acre downtown site that includes the Richmond Coliseum, which is to be razed to make way for a mixed-use development anchored by a 500-room convention center hotel.
Participants were guided through the bowels of the shuttered arena, as well as through the bones of the former Sixth Street Marketplace that includes the Blues Armory building, which is slated for adaptive reuse as part of the project.
The tour also included remarks and presentations from officials with Richmond’s Economic Development Authority and the Greater Richmond Convention Center Authority, which issued an RFI earlier this month as a joint solicitation. Among those present to greet attendees were members of the GRCCA board, which met just prior to the tour.
“This is a strategic priority for everyone standing up here,” said Lincoln Saunders, Richmond’s chief administrative officer, who was joined by fellow board members and county contemporaries Joe Casey of Chesterfield, John Budesky of Hanover and John Vithoulkas of Henrico.
“This convention center is a jewel within our city and region, but we need a convention center hotel to maximize the opportunity it presents for us,” Saunders told the group. “We are excited that there is such great interest. I know it will be a very competitive process, and we look forward to seeing your best proposals. Please know that as a region we look forward to partnering to bring this to reality.”
The GRCCA’s involvement adds a regional touch to marketing the site, which is made up of some of the properties previously pitched for Richmond’s unsuccessful Navy Hill plan. The EDA now controls the properties that make up the 9-acre City Center site.
In addition to the hotel, the Coliseum demolition and the Blues Armory rehab, the project would also involve infrastructure improvements, including reconnections of Sixth and Clay streets through the site; office and retail space; new housing including lower-income units; parking and transit facilities; bicycle and pedestrian improvements; and public open space.
Participants in the tour included about a half dozen development firms, twice as many design firms, and about 15 construction and engineering firms. The group was a mix of locally-based firms and others headquartered elsewhere with local or regional offices.
Notable among them were several firms that either vied for or are on the selected development team for the Diamond District project, another redevelopment effort the city is undertaking that centers on replacing The Diamond baseball stadium.
The city is working on that project with RVA Diamond Partners, some of whose members took part in the City Center tour. They include Capstone Development, the team’s Maryland-based hotel developer; The M Companies, a local development firm led by Mike Hopkins; and design firms 510 Architects and Hickok Cole.
Some of Tuesday’s attendees were on Diamond District teams that were not picked for that project, including second runner-up team members Hourigan, Timmons Group and Shamin Hotels. Architecture firm Hanbury, also represented, was on the first runner-up Diamond District team, as was engineering firm VHB. Local developer Capital Square also headed up a team and was on Tuesday’s tour.
Other developers on the tour included Enterprise Community Development, a Maryland-based firm that’s been active in Richmond; MBT Development, a New York-based firm focused on income-based housing; and Gold Jacket, a Miami-based development investment firm co-founded by former pro football great Emmitt Smith.
Other design firms on the tour included Baskervill, Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners, CallisonRTKL, Cooper Cary Architects, Dewberry, Fall Line Architects, Marvel, and Kahler Slater. Construction firms included Barton Malow Builders, Clancy & Theys, Clark Construction, Eller Group, L.F. Jennings, Tyler’s Commercial Builders and W.M. Jordan Co.
Engineering firms included Christopher Consultants, Dunbar, Froehling & Robertson, Lynch Mykins Structural Engineering, Simpson Gumpertz and Heger, and Stantec. Other firms on the tour included locally based Sustainable Design Consulting, TD Harris Hauling and Elite Management Group, and two out-of-towners: Renascent, a demolition contractor based in Indianapolis; and Lincoln Property Co., a Texas-based real estate firm.
Responses to the RFI are due Dec. 20 by 2 p.m. The full RFI document and additional information can be found on the city’s project webpage.
Responses are to be evaluated based on evaluation criteria spelled out in the RFI and by a panel comprised of EDA, GRCCA and city representatives.
A shortlist of teams to be invited to respond to a request for offers (RFO) is anticipated to be announced in winter 2023. The RFO would be released around that time, and a development team selection could be made that spring.