Project Snapshot: Richmond riverfront on the rise with amphitheater, CoStar construction

AmphitheaterCoStar2

Steel beams are hoisted above the Richmond Amphitheater stage structure this week, as construction on the CoStar buildings continues in the background. (Jonathan Spiers photos)

If the three towering cranes weren’t indication enough, Richmond’s downtown riverfront is literally on the rise.

The hillside around Tredegar is alive with the activity of two massive construction projects taking shape simultaneously: CoStar Group’s new office tower and campus expansion, and the Richmond Amphitheater venue from Coran Capshaw’s Red Light Ventures.

Elevator shafts for CoStar’s 26-story tower and six-story multipurpose building continue to rise on the 4-acre site beside the company’s current building at 501 S. Fifth St., across from Brown’s Island.

And across the street on Gambles Hill, the steel framework for the amphitheater’s covered stage has taken shape on that project’s 4-acre footprint, uphill from and behind the Tredegar Iron Works complex.

AmphitheaterCoStar1a

The last beam for the amphitheater stage is scheduled to be placed today.

The projects are transforming the riverfront hillside that until now has been grassy open space owned by NewMarket Corp., which is headquartered atop Gambles Hill. NewMarket is leasing the amphitheater site to Red Light and sold the CoStar site in 2020 for $20 million.

The $460 million CoStar project has been underway since late 2022, when the D.C.-based real estate data firm kicked it off with a groundbreaking ceremony. Totaling 750,000 square feet, the complex is targeted for “substantial completion” in the spring of 2026, according to Whiting-Turner, the project’s general contractor. Connecticut-based Pickard Chilton is the architect.

When the project was announced in late 2021, CoStar CEO Andy Florance said he hoped for completion as early as this year. Construction was briefly halted around this time last year when crews uncovered a 42-foot-long brick structure believed to be a storm drain predating the Civil War, according to a WRIC report.

pickard chilton costar campus 5

A rendering of the new CoStar buildings as seen next to its existing building (right). (Image courtesy Pickard Chilton)

Once completed, the complex’s tower – at 425 feet tall and 510 feet above sea level – will be the highest in Richmond, exceeding the nearby Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond building but coming in 24 feet shorter than the tallest tower in town: the 449-foot-tall James Monroe Building.

Earlier this year, City Council approved incentives and a property tax grant performance agreement to support the development through tax rebates over 10 years. The complex is expected to generate $30 million in tax revenue for the city over 10 years and add 2,000 new jobs with a minimum average annual wage of $85,000.

Meanwhile, construction on the Riverfront Amphitheater is a few months in since a groundbreaking on the hillside in January. The $30 million, 7,500-capacity venue is scheduled to open in time for the 2025 summer concert season.

Richmond Amphitheater 2022 06 30 scaled

An eastward view of the amphitheater as it would appear on the hillside between Tredegar and NewMarket Corp. (BizSense file)

Site work for the amphitheater started last fall, with Charlottesville-based general contractor Martin Horn leading the project and working locally with Richmond-based contractor Conquest, Moncure & Dunn.

Josh Horton Martin Horn

Josh Horton

Martin Horn COO Josh Horton said Wednesday that the project is keeping on schedule, with the last structural piece of the amphitheater stage to be placed today (Thursday).

“The last beam is being flown into place tomorrow,” Horton said. “At that point, the steel erection for the main stage structure will be getting close to wrapped up. All in all, it’s going well.”

Horton said subsequent construction will involve support spaces for the stage, restrooms and other facilities. “But the stage is the critical path of the project,” he said.

Horton said crews have encountered no site issues or unexpected finds like the CoStar discovery. He said the project is on track for completion next summer and is providing visibility locally for the Charlottesville firm.

AmphitheaterCoStar3b

The amphitheater is scheduled to open next summer, while the CoStar buildings are targeted for the spring of 2026.

“It’s a great project right there in downtown Richmond. It’s good exposure for us to a market that we’re not in a ton – our market’s mostly in Charlottesville – so we’re happy to be doing it and glad it’s going to add to the skyline and the (acts) that you all can bring into Richmond,” he said.

The amphitheater is expected to draw musical acts that currently pass over Richmond for venues in Charlottesville, Virginia Beach and Northern Virginia. Names mentioned at January’s groundbreaking as performing in comparable venues across the country included the Dave Matthews Band, Sarah McLachlan, Tyler Childers and Lainey Wilson.

The project is the brainchild of Capshaw, the Dave Matthews Band manager and music industry executive who led the development of the 3,500-seat Ting Pavilion amphitheater on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. Capshaw’s Red Light Management group also co-manages the 6,800-capacity Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville, Tennessee.

Richmond-based 3North is the architect for Richmond Amphitheater, which also involves engineering firm TRC Cos.

AmphitheaterCoStar2

Steel beams are hoisted above the Richmond Amphitheater stage structure this week, as construction on the CoStar buildings continues in the background. (Jonathan Spiers photos)

If the three towering cranes weren’t indication enough, Richmond’s downtown riverfront is literally on the rise.

The hillside around Tredegar is alive with the activity of two massive construction projects taking shape simultaneously: CoStar Group’s new office tower and campus expansion, and the Richmond Amphitheater venue from Coran Capshaw’s Red Light Ventures.

Elevator shafts for CoStar’s 26-story tower and six-story multipurpose building continue to rise on the 4-acre site beside the company’s current building at 501 S. Fifth St., across from Brown’s Island.

And across the street on Gambles Hill, the steel framework for the amphitheater’s covered stage has taken shape on that project’s 4-acre footprint, uphill from and behind the Tredegar Iron Works complex.

AmphitheaterCoStar1a

The last beam for the amphitheater stage is scheduled to be placed today.

The projects are transforming the riverfront hillside that until now has been grassy open space owned by NewMarket Corp., which is headquartered atop Gambles Hill. NewMarket is leasing the amphitheater site to Red Light and sold the CoStar site in 2020 for $20 million.

The $460 million CoStar project has been underway since late 2022, when the D.C.-based real estate data firm kicked it off with a groundbreaking ceremony. Totaling 750,000 square feet, the complex is targeted for “substantial completion” in the spring of 2026, according to Whiting-Turner, the project’s general contractor. Connecticut-based Pickard Chilton is the architect.

When the project was announced in late 2021, CoStar CEO Andy Florance said he hoped for completion as early as this year. Construction was briefly halted around this time last year when crews uncovered a 42-foot-long brick structure believed to be a storm drain predating the Civil War, according to a WRIC report.

pickard chilton costar campus 5

A rendering of the new CoStar buildings as seen next to its existing building (right). (Image courtesy Pickard Chilton)

Once completed, the complex’s tower – at 425 feet tall and 510 feet above sea level – will be the highest in Richmond, exceeding the nearby Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond building but coming in 24 feet shorter than the tallest tower in town: the 449-foot-tall James Monroe Building.

Earlier this year, City Council approved incentives and a property tax grant performance agreement to support the development through tax rebates over 10 years. The complex is expected to generate $30 million in tax revenue for the city over 10 years and add 2,000 new jobs with a minimum average annual wage of $85,000.

Meanwhile, construction on the Riverfront Amphitheater is a few months in since a groundbreaking on the hillside in January. The $30 million, 7,500-capacity venue is scheduled to open in time for the 2025 summer concert season.

Richmond Amphitheater 2022 06 30 scaled

An eastward view of the amphitheater as it would appear on the hillside between Tredegar and NewMarket Corp. (BizSense file)

Site work for the amphitheater started last fall, with Charlottesville-based general contractor Martin Horn leading the project and working locally with Richmond-based contractor Conquest, Moncure & Dunn.

Josh Horton Martin Horn

Josh Horton

Martin Horn COO Josh Horton said Wednesday that the project is keeping on schedule, with the last structural piece of the amphitheater stage to be placed today (Thursday).

“The last beam is being flown into place tomorrow,” Horton said. “At that point, the steel erection for the main stage structure will be getting close to wrapped up. All in all, it’s going well.”

Horton said subsequent construction will involve support spaces for the stage, restrooms and other facilities. “But the stage is the critical path of the project,” he said.

Horton said crews have encountered no site issues or unexpected finds like the CoStar discovery. He said the project is on track for completion next summer and is providing visibility locally for the Charlottesville firm.

AmphitheaterCoStar3b

The amphitheater is scheduled to open next summer, while the CoStar buildings are targeted for the spring of 2026.

“It’s a great project right there in downtown Richmond. It’s good exposure for us to a market that we’re not in a ton – our market’s mostly in Charlottesville – so we’re happy to be doing it and glad it’s going to add to the skyline and the (acts) that you all can bring into Richmond,” he said.

The amphitheater is expected to draw musical acts that currently pass over Richmond for venues in Charlottesville, Virginia Beach and Northern Virginia. Names mentioned at January’s groundbreaking as performing in comparable venues across the country included the Dave Matthews Band, Sarah McLachlan, Tyler Childers and Lainey Wilson.

The project is the brainchild of Capshaw, the Dave Matthews Band manager and music industry executive who led the development of the 3,500-seat Ting Pavilion amphitheater on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. Capshaw’s Red Light Management group also co-manages the 6,800-capacity Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville, Tennessee.

Richmond-based 3North is the architect for Richmond Amphitheater, which also involves engineering firm TRC Cos.

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Laans Hokanson
Laans Hokanson
1 month ago

Nicely done as always Jonathan, thanks

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago

Yes, thank you Jonathan for revisiting all the excitement going on in this area. This is what I AM nothing but positive about, and it seems to be going well with no riskes to the taxpayers unlike a lot of other things closer to I-95. I WONDER if people realize, if things just go as announced, what a large positive impact this CoStar project will have on downtown. CoStar has decided it is a VIRGINIA company since its recent buy of a perfectly located newish office tower in Rosslyn (Arlington). True to their “Real Estate Intelligence” mission, they needed HQ… Read more »

C. Whitney Aldridge
C. Whitney Aldridge
1 month ago

Well perhaps I have another view .Years ago the consensus used to be “keep the river open for all.” Don’t over develop it. The topography down there is a natural amphitheatre. It was beautiful as it was…now why ruin it? The Costar building planned, being built is too big. All outta of proportion. Another view for “others” killed…there is all ready inadequate parking in the area. It will soon be worse…Careful planning & over development is ruining Richmond’s River…Why not clean up the water instead?

Bruce Terrell
Bruce Terrell
1 month ago

That’s a historic area. Was any archaeology done to preserve information before the developers trashed the landscape?