Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mayor Jones Issues Statement on Proposed Shockoe Bottom Development Ordinance


Mayor Jones issued the following statement concerning the anticipated vote on the Shockoe Bottom Development Ordinance:
 

“I was disappointed to read in the news media that certain Council members plan to vote against new jobs, tax revenue, and a Slavery Heritage site in Richmond. Doing that would hurt Richmond by leaving money on the table.
 

“That’s because keeping the ballpark on the Boulevard would restrict the revenue-producing potential of our most valuable piece of under-utilized land. That’s a bad business decision, and it demonstrates a failure to consider the needs of the city as a whole.
 

“This decision is surprising since they’ve chosen to vote against something without learning about it first. At no point have all City Council members been briefed on the most up-to-date information about all aspects of the plan. Council members are receiving the detailed information they requested, but most briefings have taken place in committee meetings or in lightly-attended informal sessions. Nevertheless, they now want to kill the project before hearing the information that staff, the developers and the baseball team have invested a great deal of time and expense to gather. This is the second time in less than a month that two members have tried to kill the plan without first understanding all the details.
 

“They fret that this process has taken a while, and I wish it could have moved more quickly too. But it’s important to remember that since we introduced the concept last November, we’ve presented Revitalize RVA to more than 50 community meetings attended by thousands of Richmonders. We’ve continually refined it along the way, in response to concerns raised by the community and City Council members. Moreover, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a transformational economic development plan has taken time to complete properly. Anyone who’s ever bought a house knows that getting to closing can take a while, and this plan is like closing on 200 houses at once. It’s no suburban frozen yogurt shop or used car lot. Big cities do big things, and big things take time. Richmond’s still learning about that.
 

“For months, I’ve worked to build trust with City Council members under the leadership of Charles Samuels. That trust has been damaged.
 

“I intend to move forward on generating upwards of $10 million a year in new revenue for the City of Richmond. Here are the facts:
  • A Kroger, a Hyatt hotel, and new apartment buildings will help create more than 400 new jobs in a blighted area of Richmond. That’s a powerful business opportunity in a city with a 26% overall poverty rate, where some Council districts thrive and others are wracked by generations of joblessness.Unleashing the untapped potential of the Boulevard's 60 acres will produce at least as many jobs as Shockoe will produce, if not more.
  • The Shockoe development plan will benefit the community through an agreement to include at least a 40% minority business participation rate and at least a 20% minority ownership stake. Richmond has never seen community wealth-building commitments like these on a project this big.
  • After 400 years, this is Virginia’s first serious opportunity to build a Slavery Heritage site at the place where Virginia Union was born. There’s a reason this hasn’t happened before. It’s possible today because it’s part of a comprehensive economic development plan. If we pass up this opportunity now, it may never come again.
  • A new downtown ballpark—like Charlotte opened last month—will help keep the Flying Squirrels in Richmond, as certain Council members have pledged.
“The reaction of some Council members reminds me of some initial reactions to the Redskins Training Camp and other economic development initiatives with Bon Secours. Many people did not recognize the benefit these projects would bring to our economy, but they have proven to be big successes. That’s why Richmond will have two NFL teams playing here this summer. It takes vision to get things done.
 

“There’s still time for Council members to change this hasty decision. I’ll present exhaustive details of this plan on Thursday.
 

“I encourage Council members to make informed decisions after Thursday, unless they simply don’t want to hear the facts.”