Richmond VA > Mayor's Office > Mayor's Newsletters

Last Updated: 2011-11-10

In early November, I presented an economic development plan that includes a ballpark in Shockoe Bottom. I'd like to explain what this plan means for the future of our entire city.

Shockoe is the right location for the ballpark because it solves a difficult engineering problem. Because Shockoe Bottom lies in a floodplain, simply replacing the Boulevard ballpark would leave Shockoe behind permanently. But a new Shockoe ballpark would help solve the floodplain problem, unlocking the value of both Shockoe and the Boulevard. The Boulevard could then become the shopping and dining destination that can grow our bottom line.

We call this plan "Revitalize RVA" and it can generate up to $187 million in net new revenue for our city. That's money we can invest in public schools, transportation, public safety and all of the attributes of a Tier One city. We realize almost twice as much benefit to the long-term growth and development of the city if we build the ballpark in Shockoe rather than on the Boulevard. This is important because while we've been able to build new schools and facilities, earn upgrades in our bond ratings, and attract world-class events like an NFL training camp, the UCI World Road Cycling Championships, and the A-10 Women's Basketball Championships, we still face a 26% poverty rate in our city. This is the most serious problem in Richmond, and the only way to seriously address it is to create new jobs and opportunity and broaden our tax base.

Our plan to build the ballpark in this undeveloped area has already yielded commitments that include a new Kroger grocery store in this food desert area, a Hyatt Hotel and new apartment units for the downtown apartment market. Without the improvements we would bring to the infrastructure as a result of the ballpark development, these commitments in this neighborhood would not be forthcoming. Furthermore, we are leveraging the development opportunity to finally properly recognize and memorialize the important history in the area. We plan to raise $30 million for a Slavery and Freedom Heritage Site and improvements to the African Burial Ground, and our plan does not allow a ballpark to go forward without the accompanying plan to develop the area in a historically sensitive way.

Many may ask, what does this mean for the Boulevard? What it means is that we can develop valuable and limited land in the city for the highest and best use. By unlocking the Boulevard's full potential, we can attract new investment to the city to grow and expand our tax base. We can improve job accessibility for our residents and capture retail dollars that are leaving our city. Again, given our challenging poverty rate, we must look at everything through an economic development lens that gets us growth. This plan does that. As I've said many times, we are not going to tax our way out of tough times, we have to grow our way out, by design.

We've received overwhelming support for this plan, just a week after announcing it. We've also received lots of questions, and we hope to win over skeptics. I invite you to visit LovingRVA.com to learn more about the plan and track our progress. As more people learn about this plan and what it means for the city's future, I'm confident that support for it will grow and that we will continue to "Build the Best Richmond" together.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Click on the links below for renderings or visit www.LovingRVA.com:

*NEW Documents Presented to Land Use, Housing & Transportation Standing Committee Meeting on May 22, 2014

*NEW Documents Presented to Finance and Economic Development Standing Committee on May 15, 2014*

*NEW Documents Presented to City Council on May 12, 2014*

City Revitalize RVA Presentations:

Financial Details:

Associated Project Studies:

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the plan for a Shockoe ballpark compare with downtown ballpark projects in other cities?

In looking at recent history, the experience with minor league baseball stadiums has been different than what has happened with other professional sports venues (MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL). The continued success of downtown ballparks in Toledo, Durham, Louisville and Indianapolis are models for the Shockoe ballpark. If you want to make an accurate comparison, the experiences in these cities, among others, are good ones to review.

Importantly, there is a significant difference between any of the sports venues (baseball ones or others) that have struggled and the Shockoe ballpark - each of those other stadiums were built on the bet that commercial development would follow - that is not the case with the Shockoe ballpark. Under the Revitalize RVA Plan, there are letters-of-intent for all of the commercial and residential development that will be built concurrently with the ballpark. This development will generate the real estate taxes, which, along with rent from the Squirrels, will provide all of the necessary funding to service the debt on the project. In short, with the existence of these firm commitments at the outset, the Revitalize RVA Plan will benefit the City and its taxpayers.

How much parking will be available at the new ballpark?

Baseball fans will have a lot more places to park than at The Diamond. In fact, the new ballpark will offer almost twice as much parking as The

Diamond does, all within easy, convenient walking distance.

Fans will have a wide range of on- and off-street parking options, including three large decks in close proximity to the ballpark:

  • A new deck with 1,200-plus spaces that will be located on 18th Street as it intersects Broad Street, directly across from the ballpark entrance with direct access from northbound I-95;
  • A 1,450-space deck at the corner of 14th Street and Main Street. This deck is owned by the Commonwealth and used by state office workers during the day. It is accessed directly from southbound I-95 and is located three blocks from the ballpark; and
  • A 1,000-space deck at the corner of 14th Street and Cary Street, four blocks away.

All of these decks are directly accessible from the interstate. Upon exiting I-95 downtown, drivers can reach each of these decks by traveling less than three blocks, and one instance less than a block. After a couple of visits to the ballpark, fans will appreciate the speed and ease with which they can reach a wide range of convenient parking options.

The Diamond currently has 2,000 parking spaces in the lots around the stadium, only about 1,600 of which are available on game days. All told, the new ballpark will offer ample parking and considerably more spaces than are available at The Diamond today.

How will the new ballpark impact traffic in Shockoe?

Detailed traffic analysis shows that the current streets can handle the traffic on game days. Nearly 70,000 workers come downtown every weekday. In comparison, games will bring roughly 7,000 people (most of whom will likely will be carpooling) to the ballpark – and they'll arrive long after commuters have gone home.

The analysis also considered the fact that new development will bring additional residents and workers downtown. This analysis showed that conventional intersection upgrades, which are going to be paid for entirely by the private developers as part of their construction costs, will address these additional needs.

In short, considering the points of access to Shockoe from both the interstates (I-95, I-64 and the Downtown Expressway) and local streets, there will be far more convenient ways to get to the new ballpark than there are to get to The Diamond on the Boulevard.

Shockoe is an important part of Richmond's history – in what ways will the Revitalize RVA Plan protect and share that history?

The Slavery and Freedom Heritage Site is a key feature of the Revitalize RVA Plan. Shockoe was 'Ground Zero' for much of the slave trade in the South. We can recognize that history and also encourage the type of economic development that Richmond needs to provide jobs and opportunity to combat the deep poverty that many in our region face – each of these goals is noble, and we can, and must, serve them both at the same time. The Lumpkins Jail site and the great majority of the slave trading sites existed west of the present-day train trestle, which is where the Slavery and Freedom Heritage Site will be located. Importantly, all of the economic development that is part of the revitalization plan, including the ballpark as well as the office and residential components, will be east of the present-day train trestle, over 100 yards away. In fact, the ballpark will be constructed on land that today contains empty, asphalt parking lots.

What has been done in Shockoe to protect the neighborhood from flooding?

Richmonders remember Gaston, as the 2004 storm was brutal on parts of downtown.

Since then, the City of Richmond has invested more than $22 million in storm water improvements but much more work needs to be done. Unfortunately, no significant private developer has been willing to invest in the 10-block area ravaged by Gaston because much of the area is within the floodplain.

The Revitalize RVA Plan integrates creative solutions to handle storm water. These solutions will help achieve the long-term infrastructure upgrades necessary to bring this neighborhood to life. For example, the exterior edges of the ballpark (from one foot to 10 feet in height) will be made of concrete and will reshape the floodplain and create spaces that can be developed for residential uses overlooking the playing field.

When baseball moves to Shockoe, what will happen to the property on the Boulevard?

Local residents and City leaders will have an opportunity to shape the future of this 60-acre site of undeveloped real estate. Real estate experts consider the Boulevard site to be the most desirable economic development site in the region. It can accommodate up to 3 million square feet of development once the stadium is gone. A high-quality mixed-use development on this site will generate millions of dollars of new tax revenue for the City and provide shopping opportunities in an urban setting that now only exist in South Richmond and the counties.

How is the Revitalize RVA Plan part of the Mayor's larger vision for Richmond?

The Revitalize RVA Plan has a number of key components, all of which work together to serve an important larger goal – encouraging the private sector economic development that our City needs in order to create jobs and provide opportunity. This will help give the City a strong and broad tax base so that we can have good schools, build housing to attract new residents and meet our infrastructure, public safety and other needs. The success of the Mayor's Anti-Poverty Initiative (Now known as the Maggie L. Walker Initiative for Expanding Opportunity and Fighting Poverty) will be driven by a healthy, and growing, tax base. Richmond is a budding hub for tourism, which underscores the importance of this wonderful opportunity to share our diverse tapestry of history and finally tell the true stories of that rich African-American history that has never been told in a full and complete manner.

When can we expect a new ballpark to be completed?

Construction is likely to start in the spring of 2014 so that the ballpark will be open in time for the 2016 baseball season in April.

This significant economic development opportunity is a mixed-use project that includes residential, office, hotel, parking and the ballpark. As such, it will need to go through a review process by the City of Richmond, similar to the one that was used for the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Camp. This process will involve review and approval by several different bodies, including the Planning Commission and Richmond City Council. In addition, there will be many community meetings that will provide an opportunity for businesses and residents to provide input on the project.

Contact Information:

Mayor's Office
City of Richmond
900 E. Broad St., Suite 201
Richmond, VA
23219 USA
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Phone: (804)646-7970
Fax: (804)646-7987
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If you have any questions, please call the City's Customer Care Center at 3-1-1 or (804) 646-7000

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