The nearly $12 million price tag to reshape the future of Mayo Island just got a lot more manageable for its prospective buyer.
The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation last week awarded a $7.5 million grant to help fund the purchase of the 15-acre downtown island at 501 S. 14th St. and convert it into public greenspace.
While the buyer is slated to be local nonprofit Capital Region Land Conservancy, the state funding will be granted to the City of Richmond as part of a public-private partnership between the city and the CRLC.
Parker Agelasto, CRLC’s executive director, said the grant is a critical component to the Mayo Island project. The funds will come from the state’s Community Flood Preparedness Fund.
“It’s good news and something we were hoping for,” Agelasto said. “You have to assess where your funding is coming from for a big project like this, and the reality was these grants were there and the timing was right.”
Agelasto said CRLC had to take on the project with the city, as a municipality must be the one that applies for DCR grants.
“It’s a public-private partnership that had to come into play to make it happen,” Agelasto said, noting that the state DCR would also play a continuing role going forward as it would co-hold the conservation easement CRLC is planning to put the island under, precluding it from future development.
Agelasto said they’re still in discussions with the city regarding how all the money will come together.
In total, the purchase and restoration of Mayo Island is set to cost $11.8 million. Prior to the latest $7.5 million grant, CRLC had already received $1.7 million for the project in the form of a $1.5 million DCR grant in November and $200,000 from private donors. Agelasto said the nonprofit is in conversations with other philanthropic sources about funding the remaining $2.6 million.
Agelasto said CRLC is scheduled to close on the island in 2023.
The majority of Mayo Island, which lies between Manchester and Shockoe Slip and sits under a 100-year floodplain, is owned by the Shaia family. The Shaias put it up for sale last spring with a price tag of $19 million. A quarter-acre piece of the island in the middle is owned by the Heindl family and is not part of the CRLC deal.
The island is also the subject of a lawsuit between the Shaias and VCU. The two sides are quarrelling over alleged missed rent payments for a parking lot on the island VCU had previously leased. A hearing for the lawsuit is scheduled for Jan. 17.