Richmond finally got the vote it needed on Monday, when City Council approved a private group’s plan to build a $562.5 million resort-casino on the city’s South Side, paving the way for city voters to approve the project, which, if successful, would likely create jobs and boost tourism. It didn’t take long for President Cynthia I Newbille to have Richmond representatives vote 8-1 in their favour, with the only dissent coming from 2nd District councilwoman Katherine Jordan, who said she didn’t approve because it wouldn’t be good economic development if local residents didn’t have input or participation.
Before voting, a Councilwoman who is enthusiastic about a project in her district chastised the opponent, claiming that they had made promises to each other. The first debate was about how Ms. Trammell would support opposition to North Side Casino if she could, and vice versa, with one exception: Reva M. Trammell’s 8th District casino proposal, which Jordan publicly supported but privately promised not to oppose as long as the new development took place in her own district—where there are currently no casinos!
Richmond is set to become the new hotspot for wealthy black people looking for a home in the North or West near their families. The proposed 100-acre Black-owned development at Walmsley Boulevard and Commerce Road will include an entertainment venue, hotel, and a 50-acre public park! Is this location largely isolated from Richmond? It is directly across the street from the Philip Morris cigarette factory.
For the majority of the council and many Richmond residents, this development represents a significant boost to the city’s coffers. This is because developers will no longer be required to make any upfront payments or pay higher taxes on their projects in order to gain access to one of America’s best locations.
For many years, developers seeking prime real estate had little choice but to forego some tax breaks by negotiating with City Hall on what would be best for everyone involved: Developer eagerness vs. community wishes and needs; budget determined by revenue from Mayor’s Office briefings in which Council members are informed about the size of the impact certain developments can have on personal budgets. However, there is now hope that those days are coming to an end, as a proposed construction project promises not to
The casino would create approximately 950 full-time jobs in Richmond, with benefits and profit-sharing. Along with 300 part-time jobs paying at least $15 per hour, the casino will host 200 or more entertainment events on-site each year, as well as donate 1.6 million dollars to charities such as Virginia Union University. The region’s tourism operations manager announced this project, which he says adds another major attraction that could entice visitors to Richmond who may not have visited before due to a lack of nearby attractions.
Dr. Harris, another strong supporter and financial investor in the project, was impressed by how much it will benefit VUU, while Greta C., president of the Better Housing Coalition, stated that community benefits are a more general reason to vote for this project. Richard Walker, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for a House of Delegates seat, urged rejection, arguing that more research into the effects of casino gambling on people’s health is needed.
Quinton Robbins does not believe what the casino magnates are selling, and he has a valid point. Despite the fact that Atlantic City has multiple casinos on its oceanfront, he believes that bringing one to Richmond will be just another economic development scheme for rich developers looking for more property, with no regard for how it will affect those who live there or even if this type of business model has ever worked in other parts of America. “Bringing a casino here would only serve as yet another tax on the poor disguised as an attempt to boost our economy,” he says.
Mayor Levar M. Stoney applauded the council vote, dismissing complaints that supporters of the winning proposal donated to his re-election campaign last year, before the city issued a request for proposals that drew six bidders. “The City Council’s vote tonight opens the door for every voting Richmond resident to have their say on this critical project,” he said after they approved it. The entity in charge of development is officially known as RVA Entertainment Holdings LLC, and it hopes to soon be able to provide entertainment options not only inside but also outside, at an outdoor amphitheatre with lawn seating and space near Center Stage where there are plans for more individualised food trucks or other small eateries similar to those found in the area.
Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, an investor group led by the chairwoman of Urban One, will operate the new casino. Cathy Hughes and her son Alfred Liggins III are excited about how this venture will generate profits for their company while also providing a venue for Hampton Roads residents to enjoy all things entertainment.
The One Casino + Resort in Richmond skyrocketed from finalist to winner, and its value has now quadrupled. The city intends to expedite the proposal document submission so that the preliminary review can be completed within 45 days of submission.
The city of Richmond wants to put a casino gambling referendum on the November ballot. RVA Entertainment would take significant risks if approved by voters, but if successful, development could begin within several months, according to the city.
The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night (August 27) at its final meeting before Mayor Levar Stoney adjourns and moves out of City Hall next week into his new office as state lieutenant governor – after which he will be barred by law from running for mayor or any other local elected position when his current term expires in late 2020 – to seek voter approval Nov. 2 on whether Rich should be re-elected.
The company must pay the Lottery $15 million, and the Lottery will have a year to investigate RVA Entertainment’s financial records and plans before issuing the required casino licence.