It’s been six months since Coran Capshaw’s Red Light Ventures unveiled plans for a new 7,500-capacity live music venue on the hillside behind the Tredegar Iron Works complex on the downtown riverfront.
And while a delay to the start of site work for the proposed Richmond Amphitheater has caused the developers to push back their anticipated opening date, they said work behind the scenes is progressing.
Representatives from the group said last week they remain in talks with city officials about the project and are now targeting a spring 2025 opening.
Upon announcing their plans in July, the group had been aiming to start construction on the amphitheater by last November, in order to be able to build and open the venue by May of 2024.
With that timeline passed, and because of the seasonality of outdoor concerts and events, the group said pushing back the opening by a full year is necessary and accommodates the project’s 18-month construction schedule.
Philip Goodpasture, a local attorney with Williams Mullen who is representing the group, said Richmond administrators and City Council members they’ve spoken with have been largely receptive to and supportive of the project.
“We are very close to a full thumbs-up to proceed, but not there yet,” Goodpasture said last week.
Goodpasture described the project as different from other venues that Red Light has had a hand in, in that it involves only privately owned land and private financing, as opposed to a public-private land ownership scenario.
At the same time, he said the amphitheater is expected to generate tens of millions of dollars of tax revenue for the city – through sales, real estate, gross receipts and admissions taxes – over the course of the 30-year land lease that Red Light would sign with NewMarket Corp., which owns the Tredegar site.
The group has pegged the project cost at over $27 million, an amount that excludes land cost due to the group’s arrangement with NewMarket, which offered up the site upon learning that the group was looking in Richmond.
The 30-year lease would be for about 4 acres of the Tredegar parcel, where the venue would be fitted between the buildings and the filled-in portion of the Kanawha Canal, which follows a curve in the hillside that forms an amphitheater-shaped footprint. NewMarket would retain ownership of the site, and Red Light would be responsible for financing and developing the amphitheater.
Red Light is led by Capshaw, the music industry executive and Dave Matthews Band manager who’s involved in the ownership or management of similar venues across the country. Capshaw led the development of Ting Pavilion, the 3,500-seat amphitheater on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. His Red Light Management group also co-manages the 6,800-capacity Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville.
“It’s a real compliment to the Richmond market, that people (in this industry) are saying it’s worth it to do this, because of the music fan base here,” Goodpasture said.
“It’s a phenomenal location for access, because of the expressway and then 95 and 64 all come together right about there. It will be not only a beautiful location and design but so accessible to the whole market, which is a big draw to the people that are behind this,” he said.
The Richmond Amphitheater is planned for a total capacity of 7,500, with three sections of fixed seating, pit seating and a lawn facing a covered main stage that would be framed against Tredegar. The group has compared the venue in size to Nashville’s Ascend Amphitheater and the Live Oak Bank Pavilion in Wilmington, North Carolina.
The group expects to host 25 to 35 concerts per year, and the amphitheater is planned to also host community events and support the Richmond Folk Festival, with flexibility to accommodate 10,000 people or more. Concerts would be put on by Starr Hill Presents, Red Light’s promotional arm. Red Light Management is a primary owner of Starr Hill Brewery, which has a local outpost in Scott’s Addition.
Tredegar’s existing Company Store building, a one-story structure closer to Fifth Street, would be used as the venue’s box office, and another existing structure would be renovated for back-of-house management use.
In addition to the amphitheater, a second new-construction building for restrooms is planned, while the towpath beside the filled-in canal would be turned into a walkway with entrances off Fifth and Brown’s Island Way. The venue would also showcase the site’s historic features, including stonework along the canal and other ruins on the site that would be preserved.
Existing parking in the area is expected to accommodate the venue, similar to the folk festival and other events held at the riverfront.
The group has said the project would not require rezoning or special-use approvals from the city. The site is zoned DCC Downtown Civic and Cultural District, which the city code describes as intended for large spaces or buildings meant for public assembly.
Local design firm 3North is the architect on the project, and the group has enlisted Charlottesville-based Martin Horn, which it also worked with on Ting Pavilion, as the general contractor.
3North’s Jay Hugo said the group has kept busy since the summer on refining designs and other behind-the-scenes work. A project website, rvaamp.com, also was launched in recent days.
“We’ve really been deep into the technical details, brought on a full consulting team of engineers – civil, structural, mechanical – all engaged,” Hugo said. “That really represents a substantial investment and commitment from the development team while they are still working with the city to make the project a reality.”
The group expects that construction could start by early summer, with the project’s 18-month schedule putting completion at the end of 2024 at the earliest.
The site is across Fifth Street from NewMarket’s Foundry Park site, where commercial real estate data giant CoStar Group is based and planning a new high-rise. That $460 million project includes its own outdoor amphitheater that’s envisioned to host concerts. Another smaller amphitheater at the Virginia War Memorial up the hill from Tredegar was completed in 2020.
The new arena in Henrico, the new ballpark in the Diamond District, and the new arena at Tredegar. Of those, this is the least daunting and will likely open in 2025. That’s not to be negative at all; it’s just a site that’s ready to go and the venue is capitalized. I hope and expect all three to open in this decade. I hope I’m still here!
What existing parking are they referencing? This is not meant to be sarcastic but is a serious question as I’m not sure if they mean the Virginia Housing Building,, etc. Whenever I’ve gone to the folk festival, it’s just parking wherever you can find on the street (Oregon Hill usually) and hoofing it. It’s not really that bad if you’re not toting kids and strollers I suppose. Maybe it’s just the suburban fuddie duddie in me…
There’s the giant garage next to CoStar but I think that serves the Fed too. Perhaps it empties at 5pm weekdays and is available on weekends?
Yes, the Fed garage is leased for special events: RiverRock, etc.
I didn’t know about the Fed parking deck being available. I would think that would be sufficient. I don’t mind paying for parking in a deck or garage or lot but taking rideshare/public transit from Yellow Tavern is time-consuming, expensive, and difficult with small children.
That garage is owned by the Fed.
I believe the implication is that extant options that service similarly sized events and larger are adequate. That would include street parking in downtown, in Oregon Hill, and in Manchester; paid parking lots/decks in the area; utilizing public transit/rideshare options; and good ol’ walkin’/bike ridin’ across town. If the area can handle the Richmond Folk Festival reasonably well now, the new ampitheatres shouldn’t add any additional burdens.
The Henrico sports and convocation center will be the first to open. They have already booked sports related events for next year.
In my opinion there will have to be a really big push for the replacement of the Diamond, if they don’t begin work soon, and expect to open in April 2025.
There are still labor and material issues to deal with.
On the Diamond, don’t forget to add a City (that not done it CFR for FY22), a CDA that has not been formed, bonds and bond sale market, and MiLB/MLB that all need addressing before labor and material matter!
I work directly across the street from this site and attend many outdoor events in this area. Parking is NOT adequate!! I’m excited about this venue, but can guarantee that if additional parking is not addressed, it will negatively impact attendance. I would bet my 401k on this, but obviously the City knows best……
This area supports many large events, there are decks nearby, and plenty of alternative methods for transport.
Glad to see the great and powerful NewMarket Corp are finally deigning to relinquish some of their stranglehold on Gambles Hill and allowing it to be used for public(-ish) gathering.
It’s nice to have the land sort of being used for its original intent – a public space for the citizens of Richmond. 🙂
Would love to see new hotels nearby to hold travelers for the concerts. Don’t believe we currently have a riverfront hotel. 5th and Bragg would be perfect.
I believe 5th and Bragg is about to be turned into a giant construction site for the new CoStar building?
Yes, 5th and Bragg is where the CoStar tower is going.
Delta Hotels by Marriott Richmond Downtown at 5th and Canal is the closet and not that far away only about 3 or 4 blocks, and Holiday Inn Express Richmond – Downtown is at 2nd and Cary. So enough close by for travelers and band members within walking distance.
Yep! Moxy, Hampton Inn, and the Hilton not much farther from those, and that’s not even accounting for the hotels along Broad and the ones bit more west on Franklin and east down Cary. Lots of good lodging options.
Now here is a thought, hear me out… Take the area of the Hat factory from Virginia st, Downtown Expressway, to the flood wall to the start of the locks building at Gate 5. and build a Hotel, conference space or even an aquarium and make the flood wall like a look out molded after the JW Marriott in Savannah GA or the Gaylord National at National Harbor. Enclose the Hat Factory building and canal as part of the atrium of the hotel and even if possible build a life from Gate 5 to continue the boat cruises up to… Read more »
Stoked for this space to come to the riverfront! But I hope the stage itself gets a good redesign. It leaves alot to be desired. Its massive black and rigid, boxy scale seems insensitive to the historic Tredegar buildings, riverfront, and parklike setting surrounding it. Wouldn’t the use of dark and black materials trap in heat onto the stage?
Yeah, not digging the doo d0o brown color. Would much rather see a lighter color that blends in nicely with the surrounding environment. Would a gray color work?
The company 3North that is doing the design work did a horrible job on Monroe Park and the City has spent a fortune to redo what was botched in 2018. Why they were chosen to do the Amphitheater I’ll never know. Sierra Club Falls of the James Group called Monroe Park an “Environmental Disaster “. With 3North- expect the worst and you won’t be disappointed.
3North is hardly known for aesthetically pleasing buildings. It’s amazing they still get business.
I really like the concept but think there needs to be a covering over the seated area. It’d be tough for concerts in the summertime – especially as temperatures approach 90-100+ degrees in July/August. Still keep open airflow but give some shade so the sun is not so brutal. Kind of like what they did with Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. Hopefully that gets incorporated.
It’s an open amphitheater on the river… “Open” is kind of the point, don’t you think?
The amphitheater in Va Beach is “open” and also partially covered. I’ve been under that covering a few times when rain started during a concert and was very thankful to be sheltered under it and not on the lawn getting drenched.