Friday, March 2, 2012

Jones Budget Proposal to Include Capital Investments

Tourism economic impact at center of plans


The Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) being prepared by the Jones Administration for submission to City Council on March 6 includes what Mayor Jones is calling key tourism economic drivers designed to spur the areas creative economy.

Included in the Mayor’s proposed budget is $14 million in proposed improvements to the historic Landmark Theater, $5 million for Shockoe Bottom Revitalization plans, and $5 million for riverfront development.

Mayor Dwight C. Jones cited tourism as a driver for his decision to propose these investments. “Increasing our tourism draw is a revenue generator and of great benefit to the city,” said Mayor Jones. “For example, it is anticipated that the Landmark renovations will lead to expanded operations and the additional visitor spending will generate an estimated annual economic impact of $6.1 million for the city of Richmond - doubling the economic impact and tax revenue presently generated by the Landmark Theater.”

Jones explained that the $14 million investment from the City will pave the way for renovations worth about $50 million. Richmond CenterStage is proposing to utilize historic tax credits, naming opportunities, corporate and other private fundraising to generate the additional $36 million in renovations to augment the public support.

“For every dollar we invest, another $2.80 in investments will be generated to support this valuable city asset,” said Mayor Jones. “We’ve already seen an increased interest in Broadway productions wanting to come to Richmond. With a renovated facility, we believe we can draw up to 60,000 new attendants to the Landmark Theatre per year, supporting increased funding for the city and the core services we need to provide.”

“With tax revenues as flat as they’ve been over the past several years, we need to find ways to invest in projects that will increase our assessed values and increase tourism revenue,” continued Mayor Jones.

The Mayor also has plans to build on the development momentum in Shockoe Bottom. “We want to create jobs and growth for our city and tourism can be a real economic driver for us,” said the Mayor.

The Train Shed at Main Street Station has not been in use for almost two decades. Work will begin soon, transforming the Train Shed into a multi-modal transportation hub, and is expected to be completed by 2014.

“To enhance the redevelopment of Main Street Station in Shockoe Bottom, I’m proposing that we invest $5 million to begin development of a Shockoe Bottom promenade and to transform the 17th Street Farmer’s Market. This is a move that will help anchor that area as a tourist attraction creating a public open space and eventually connecting Broad Street to Main Street.”

The Mayor’s budget plans also include development of the Riverfront. “Everyone would agree that the River is our most valuable asset. Our biggest challenge is striking the right balance between development and protecting our natural resource.”

The city recently held a series of public information sessions related to Riverfront development. “One of the things that we all agree on is providing greater access to the river for families, schools, visitors, and others. It could be an enhancement that would spur other economic growth and development. To that end, I am proposing $5 million for Riverfront Development. We want to start with the Riverfront Terraces and the vision that I shared at my recent State of the City address. The Terraces will improve access to the river, and will bring families downtown and generate positive economic impact while beautifying our city.”

The Mayor underscored these investments as strategies that will yield the city a return on investment. “Investing in tourism attractions in this way will have great economic benefit for our city and improves our creative economy.”

The Mayor will present a complete budget proposal to Richmond City Council on Tuesday, March 6, 2012.