With another Richmond Folk Festival in the books, work is about to get rolling on the highly anticipated riverfront amphitheater that’s planned to keep the Tredegar hillside rocking.
Fencing is going up and site work is starting on the Richmond Amphitheater, the 7,500-capacity venue from Coran Capshaw’s Red Light Ventures that’s planned to open in spring 2025.
The developer behind Charlottesville’s Ting Pavilion has made recent filings with the city’s permit office, including for a building permit that was awarded the same day for temporary construction trailers and new buildings on the 4-acre site uphill from the Tredegar Iron Works complex.
Bruce Hazelgrove, chief administrative officer for NewMarket Corp., which owns the land and is leasing the site, said work was scheduled to start this week as soon as folk festival crews were done packing up.
“In theory they were supposed to mobilize Monday after the folk festival people cleared out and start rolling,” Hazelgrove said, adding that the development team was scheduled to have a meeting on the site today (Wednesday).
Red Light is working on the project with IMGoing Events, a Virginia Beach-based firm led by longtime live music promoter and Cellar Door veteran Ken MacDonald.
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 an outpost in Richmond’s Scott’s Addition neighborhood.
Charlottesville-based Martin Horn is the lead general contractor on the project, working locally with downtown-based contractor Conquest, Moncure & Dunn. Richmond-based 3North is the architect, and engineering firm TRC Cos. in Henrico is also on the project.
The group filed in recent weeks for a zoning compliance certificate and the building permit for what’s described in the filings as Gambles Hill Amphitheater, referring to the name of the hillside that’s part of NewMarket’s campus. NewMarket is retaining ownership of the site through a long-term lease with Red Light, which is responsible for funding and developing the amphitheater project.
The filings show the amphitheater’s orientation on the site, fitted between Tredegar and the filled-in portion of the Kanawha Canal, which follows a curve in the hillside that forms an amphitheater-shaped footprint. The filings also show a temporary stockpile site for soil and parking areas downhill from Second Street, and a route for equipment deliveries and laydowns around the Tredegar complex.
Announced last year, the $30 million development was given the green light this June, when City Council OK’d a performance grant agreement after agreeing to terms with the group in May. Per the agreement, the city would provide a 20-year performance grant based on the new incremental real estate and admissions tax revenue generated by the project to help offset the project cost.
The group is aiming to open the amphitheater in time for the 2025 outdoor concert season and expects to host 25-35 concerts per year. The venue also would host community events and is intended to be used by the folk festival, with flexibility to host 10,000 people or more. Existing parking is expected to accommodate the venue, similar to the folk festival and other events held at the riverfront.
Capshaw, who manages the Dave Matthews Band and is involved in the ownership or management of similar venues across the country, led the development of the 3,500-seat Ting Pavilion amphitheater on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. His Red Light Management group also co-manages the 6,800-capacity Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville.
The group has compared the Richmond venue in size to Ascend Amphitheater and to the Live Oak Bank Pavilion in Wilmington, North Carolina.
The Richmond Amphitheater site is just west of the construction site for CoStar Group’s planned high-rise at 600 Tredegar St. The $460 million office complex will include a 26-story tower and its own smaller amphitheater.