https://www.richmond.com/news/local/city-of-richmond/dissatisfied-with-negotiations-stoney-says-arena-redevelopment-plan-won-t/article_5fbe350f-469e-5519-b738-be4085eeb69b.html

The $1.4 billion proposal to replace the Richmond Coliseum and redevelop a valuable swath of downtown real estate will not land in front of the City Council next month, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said Thursday.

The plan — put forth by a nonprofit development group led by Dominion CEO Thomas F. Farrell II — is the subject of ongoing negotiations between Stoney’s administration and Farrell’s group, the NH District Corp.

Dissatisfied with the private group’s willingness to meet certain benchmarks, Stoney said in a call to a Times-Dispatch reporter that he would deviate from plans to submit the proposal for the City Council’s consideration in September, citing a ongoing negotiations over the city’s stated priorities.

“Many of the terms that I’ve laid out in the RFP — affordable housing, a bus transfer station, minority business enterprise — those terms have not been met yet, so there will not be any ordinances presented any time soon,” Stoney said.

“The City Council will not see any ordinances for me until those requirements that I’ve desired are met.”

Stoney’s administration has been in formal negotiations with NH District Corp. since mid-June. Earlier this year, the entity submitted the lone pitch in response to a city RFP that Stoney announced last November, which called for the redevelopment of a 10-block area north of Broad Street and centering on the construction of a new downtown arena.

NH District Corp’s proposal includes a $220 million, 17,500-seat arena, 2,800 apartments and condominiums, a 527-room hotel, 176,000 square feet of street-level storefront space for retail and restaurants, a $10 million rehabilitation of the historic Blues Armory, the construction of a new GRTC transfer plaza for bus riders, a Virginia Commonwealth University medical office building and other infrastructure improvements.

About $300 million of the $1.4 billion deal would be financed by bonds underwritten by a special tax zone the group has proposed.

The zone — called a tax increment financing district, or TIF — would siphon new tax revenue generated by the development to cover debt service payments on the bonds used to finance the public portion of the deal, meaning the new arena, armory rehab and infrastructure improvements.

Typically, one of the special tax zones is drawn around a small area where a project is happening. NH District has lobbied for the city to draw the boundaries around two Dominion properties — a tower under construction at 600 Canal Place and the existing One James River Plaza, which Dominion is considering replacing in coming years.

The properties are about half a mile away from the 10-block area the city administration had marked for redevelopment. Those boundaries could also include a new high-rise Dominion submitted plans to the city in June, though the company said it has not decided whether it will ultimately build a second tower.

How the deal is financed is still a point of discussion, Stoney said Thursday.

He would not share specifics on his targets, only that NH District Corp had not met them. Stoney has previously said the group’s initial plan to build 228 units of affordable housing — less than 9 percent of the total housing it is proposing — was insufficient. Stoney has set a goal of building 1,500 new affordable housing units over the next five years.

In a statement posted on the NH website, the group it said it has increased its original affordable housing component from 228 units to 280 units, representing 10 percent of what it initially proposed, but the city is asking for more.

Jeff Kelley, an NH District Corp spokesman, said both the number of affordable units included in the development and what income levels they are set aside for is still an open question. So, too, is the location of the proposed transfer plaza for bus riders.

“All those things are still in the works,” Kelley said.

Over the last month, the nonprofit has conducted a phone survey and held focus groups with local activists, civic leaders and community members to gather feedback on its plan.

Stoney’s administration commissioned a third-party review of the plans that is expected to be completed later this month. He said Thursday it was still ongoing. Members of the City Council have discussed ordering a separate review of the proposal if Stoney submits plans for consideration.

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