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News | 10 min read

City Selects RVA Diamond Partners as the development partner for the Diamond District

September 13, 2022

Diamond Partners Rendering

The City is pleased to announce that after a competitive selection process that began with 15 submissions from around the country last February is now concluded with the selection of RVA Diamond Partners as the city’s development partner for the redevelopment of the Diamond District.

RVA Diamond Partners was selected as the city’s development partner because their vision aligned with city goals. A few of the project’s key features include:

  1. Begins the design phase of the baseball stadium as soon as possible with a commitment to purchase the first $20M of bonds to finance the new baseball stadium.
  2. Provides a master plan approach to creating a strong sense of place with a balance of open space, walkable blocks, and a mixed-use, mixed-income development program that celebrates the baseball stadium as an important anchor and honors the legacy of Arthur Ashe, Jr.
  3. Creates an 11-acre signature park that is envisioned to be a place for all Richmonders to enjoy with several distinct areas and programming planned throughout the year.
  4. Provides 20% of the rental units to households earning between 30% – 60% of the area median income (AMI), with at least 100 of the units with project-based vouchers for public housing residents.
  5. Provides 20% of the homeownership units to households earning between 60% – 70% of AMI and funding a $1 million fund that will assist affordable home buyers with closing costs and other transaction expenses.
  6. Showcases a diverse ownership team that includes 45% MBE ownership.
  7. Seeks to include MBE/ESB business throughout the project from ownership and development to construction and operations, maintenance, and leasing inclusive of employment, contracting, and leasing.
  8. Desires to partner with the Richmond Public School Board to develop a Technical Training Center at the Maury Street and Richmond Highway former Altria site to create an available workforce with sufficient experience to support the development of the Diamond District, and other development projects throughout the city.

This evening a resolution “to select RVA Diamond Partners LLC as the developer of the Diamond District site and express City Council’s support for the proposed business terms and conditions for the development of the Diamond District” will be introduced at the end of the City Council meeting. The resolution will follow Council’s typical review process and may be voted on at the City Council meeting on September 26, 2022. Once the resolution is approved, the City and RVA Diamond Partners will use the term sheet as the basis for developing the definitive written agreements, which will be brought back to Council for final approval later this fall.

Ways to learn more:

  1. City to host an in-person meeting to give an overview of the selection process and the project, and answer questions.
  2. Wednesday September 14, 2022 at 6:00 PM
  3. Bon Secours Training Center (2401 W. Leigh St)
  4. The meeting will be also simulcast on Teams Live: meeting link and attendee dial in  number 804-316-9457 (Conference ID: 693 704 099#).
  1. City will host a telephone town hall to give and an overview of the project and answer questions about the project.
  2. Tuesday, September 20, 2022 at 6:30 PM
  3. To register for the telephone town hall click here.
  1. Members of the public can also provide questions or comments on the project by filling out this form.

Support for the Diamond District:

Mayor Levar Stoney:  “This proposal meets our goals to equitably revitalize an underdeveloped part of our city and maximize its potential to enhance the quality of life for all Richmonders. Commitments to affordable housing, minority business engagement, publicly accessible open space and a new ballpark mean that the Diamond District will be enjoyed by, built by, and benefit all residents of our city. The Diamond District has long been a diamond in the rough. I look forward to seeing it shine.”

Council President Cynthia Newbille:  “Economic development is truly not a broad enough term to describe the project.  It is my hope that we can see the Diamond District plan brought to fruition to benefit our entire city from jobs, housing, sports and entertainment, and business development.  This plan helps us to continue to change the narrative of our city and its residents.  I am looking forward to seeing the result of months of hard work and dedication by the team of proven professionals.” 

Council Vice-President Ellen Robertson:  “I believe a rising tide lifts all boats. While I understand that one project can’t change the whole story, it can affect one chapter.  When we began the process for the Diamond District, many ideas were considered, but it all came down to what was in the Small Area Plan and the Richmond 300 Plan – both had city-wide input – and looked to change how we did development in Richmond.  Fast forward to September 2022, and we have come to a point where tonight, we will find out the development team chosen for the project as well as see the term sheet for the first time.  I am certain that my colleagues, Councilwomen Lambert and Jordan along with staff and community partners are presenting us with a comprehensive plan that represents inclusivity and a bold step forward.”

Councilmember Andreas Addison:  “The City continues to strive to create inclusive opportunities from development projects to those who become the end users.  When the Diamond District project was proposed, we understood that this would be the Small Area Plan in motion.  I will be thrilled to see what the culmination of months of collaboration looks like when the Diamond District Plan is unveiled. It is an understatement to say that my colleagues along with staff and community partners have put a great amount of time and effort into getting us to a place of plan terms review and next steps.”

Councilmember Ann Frances Lambert: “Having a role on the Diamond District evaluation panel and seeing the level of effort the process has required has given me renewed confidence in our city team.  Their attention to detail, and the desire to ensure that we get the right plan and the right team on board to produce the best outcome for our city is truly second to none. This project is a sign that we can create inclusive projects that take into account all aspects of our community.   I am excited about the team we have chosen and am thrilled not only to introduce them but to work alongside them to see the completion of the project.”

Councilmember Michael Jones: “There are many goals for economic development projects, and oft-times we meet one goal but unfortunately leave out others that would make the entire project equitable for all.  Based on the direction that was given for the Diamond District, beginning with the RFI process, the Diamond District plan looks to change the standard of development projects not just in Richmond but the region.  With the introduction of tonight’s paper, we, as a council, have the opportunity to move the needle forward and make sure we get the ball across the finish line later this month.”

Councilmember Stephanie Lynch: “This is an exciting opportunity for Richmond and strikes the right balance of fair and equitable development that will yield returns for the community for many years to come. We have come a long way from the deals of the past and I am truly proud of this one that will help solidify Richmond’s future.”

Councilmember Katherine Jordan: “Councilmember Katherine Jordan:  Richmonders asked for a dynamic, multi-use, mixed-income neighborhood that provides more housing and green space, while keeping baseball on Arthur Ashe Boulevard and the Squirrels in Richmond. RVA Diamond Partners’ proposal delivers on that vision, and I am thrilled to partner with them to make it a reality. As a member of the evaluation panel, getting to the final team was difficult. I’m grateful to all the groups who submitted proposals. There were exceptional ideas, individuals, and organizations on each and every team. The design we chose has many winning attributes and will create a neighborhood with its own Richmond identity anchored by a multi-tenant stadium and a major, new public park. This project brings new revenue; new jobs; new housing; and a new, major public park – all anchored by a first class Richmond ballpark for our beloved Squirrels and Rams.”

Jason Guillot of Thalhimer Realty Partners and RVA Diamond Partners: “RVA Diamond Partners is thrilled to be selected to develop the Diamond District. Our plan features an exciting new ballpark for the Flying Squirrels and VCU, an 11-acre public park and an overall vision that creates a dynamic and inclusive mixed-use urban community. Our plan provides important community benefits for all Richmond residents while serving as an iconic gateway for visitors to our great city.”

Michael Rao, Ph.D., President of VCU and VCU Health:  “We’re pleased with this important next step in realizing the vision for our exciting partnership with the Diamond District. This is a milestone moment for VCU, student-athletes and our city. This transformational project will further support the Rams as we compete at the highest national level as an NCAA Division 1 program.”

Ed McLaughlin, Vice President and Director of Athletics: “Taking this next step with the City of Richmond and the Richmond Flying Squirrels represents the final step in making our vision for that area a reality. We have worked tirelessly over the last six years to bring this vision to fruition, and we have landed on the cusp of that goal. Our student-athletes, university and the entire Richmond community will benefit greatly from the amazing facilities that our Athletic Village will provide along with the new ballpark as part of the Diamond District and this transformational project.”

Rob Long, President of the Greater Scott’s Addition Association: “We really appreciate the City’s diligence in running the process to select a team. The City worked closely with our association and neighbors to ensure that our voice was heard and we are so excited to see this project come to a realization. It will be an asset for everyone in the city, not just Scott’s Addition.”

Lou DiBella, Richmond Flying Squirrels:  “The Richmond Flying Squirrels are proud to be an anchor tenant of this proposed revitalization and development of the Diamond District, a natural extension of the growth of our beloved hometown. The Squirrels will be the most well-known neighbors in a new, diverse, and dynamic neighborhood. We commit to being a great neighbor and to making memories together for decades to come.

As we race toward home in our quest for a new ballpark, we are grateful to the Mayor, his City team, the Richmond City Councilmembers, VCU, and all of the other officials who have gotten us to this point. So many people have worked tirelessly to reach consensus, all understanding the need to serve the communal interest of our RVA community. How reassuring in 2022!”

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Petula Burks
Director, Office of Strategic Communications and Civic Engagement
900 East Broad Street, 14th Floor
Richmond, Virginia 23219
Office Number: (804)646-6311
Email: [email protected]  
Website: www.rva.gov