News & Updates

Unanimous council vote approves Diamond District development plan

September 27, 2022
Jonathan Spiers, Richmond BizSense
Mayor Levar Stoney and City Council members were on hand for the Diamond District developer selection announcement held beside The Diamond earlier this month. (Jonathan Spiers photos)

Any lingering resentments over past economic development decisions didn’t get in the way of the City Council finding unanimity in its approval of a developer for Richmond’s Diamond District project.

Councilmembers voted without dissent Monday to approve the administration’s pick of RVA Diamond Partners as the city’s development partner in the $2.4 billion project that starts with a new baseball stadium to replace The Diamond.

The approval includes the council’s endorsement of the minimum business terms agreed to for the project, including components of the development’s first phase and financing through a proposed community development authority using tax-increment financing.

While a needed seven-vote majority seemed to be secured going into Monday’s meeting, the unanimous vote was uncertain and displayed a coming together among councilmembers who have been divided on past proposals.

In July, after an update on the project from city staff, Southside representatives Michael Jones and Reva Trammell bemoaned a lack of similar support among their peers for the failed Navy Hill plan and a proposed casino south of the river.

And when the city announced RVA Diamond Partners’ selection after a competitive process earlier this month, an accompanying release included endorsements from every council member except Trammell and Kristen Nye, whose district is also south of the river.

At Monday’s meeting, Nye said she didn’t like being asked to vote two weeks after the announcement. But in the end she supported the selection along with Jones and Trammell, who said the project’s benefits were too important to the city to vote against.

The 60-plus acres are bordered by Arthur Ashe Boulevard, Hermitage Road,
the interstate and the railroad tracks.

The approval sets the stage for the city to collaborate with RVA Diamond Partners, led by D.C.-based Republic Properties Corp., Richmond-based developer Thalhimer Realty Partners and Chicago-based investment bank Loop Capital.

The public-private partnership will guide the development of the 67-acre, largely city-owned site that includes The Diamond, which is to be replaced with a new 10,000-capacity stadium. The rest of the land is to be filled with a mix of office, residential and retail development, including a hotel and infrastructure upgrades.

With the goal of work on it early next year, the city is aiming to deliver the new stadium by the start of the 2025 baseball season, the deadline set by Major League Baseball for all pro venues to meet new facility standards. The larger development is projected for completion over a 15-year period.