A city-owned nonprofit would issue bonds and build a new ballpark in the Shockoe Bottom area of Richmond, as a private developer shifts away from an earlier offer to build the facility.
An city-owned nonprofit would issue bonds and build a new ballpark in the Shockoe Bottom area of Richmond, as a private developer shifts away from an earlier offer to build the facility.
The proposal, as set forth by Raleigh, N.C.-based Highwoods Properties, is a complete change from the firm’s original offer to build a new ballpark as part of a $360-million redevelopment in the city’s Shockoe Bottom district. The nonprofit — which sounds suspiciously like an old-fashioned stadium authority, an entity that’s been on the wane in recent years, would issue bonds and build the ballpark. A group seeking to bring Eastern League baseball to Richmond would then lease the ballpark for $250,000 annually while running and maintaining it.
Where would the authority get the money to back the bonds? From tax-increment financing. There’s already a proposal before the Virginia Assembly to use part of the state sales-tax proceeds to fund the ballpark. In addition, Highwoods Properties is proposing the city return part of the sales, entertainment and property taxes generated by the Shockoe Bottom development to fund the ballpark.
The city would also be asked to spend $8 million on area improvements within Shockoe Bottom related to the ballpark.
All in all, the authority would be expected to receive $9 million annually in tax revenues — more than enough to pay off the $5.3 million in bonds, according to Highwoods. That’s assuming all the tax-increment financing they propose comes through.
This is a very definite switch from what was proposed to Richmond officials late last year when the city was looking at ballpark alternatives: originally, Highwoods intimated a new privately financed ballpark would be part of any Shockoe Bottom development. And what’s proposed contains considerably more taxpayer risk than the rejected ballpark proposals coming from the likes of Robert Bobb and Peter Kirk. City officials had nothing to say about this proposal at this time; a decision on it isn’t due until March 1.
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