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Zoning change on tap for Richmond Flying Squirrels new ballpark site

Building a modern pro ballpark involves so many small but essential steps before a shovel hits the ground, and this one is essential: the Richmond City Council is fast-tracking a zoning change for 67 acres where a new Richmond Flying Squirrels (Double-A; Eastern League) ballpark will be located.

The new ballpark, set to open in 2025, is the core of the new zoning district. It encompasses the team’s current home, The Diamond, as well as land owned by the city and VCU between Arthur Ashe Boulevard and Hermitage Road. The current zoning doesn’t allow for a new ballpark or adjacent parkland, it limits the building height to 12 stories (the rezoning would up that number to 20 stories) and it could possibly limit the amount of digital signage at the ballpark itself. From Richmond BizSense:

“We have a lot of it where we’re thinking through it, how we would do the signage and the parts that we want to change,” [deputy PDR director Maritza] Pechin said, adding that staff had initially been crafting a special-use permit for the project. With the city initiating the rezoning and owning the bulk of the properties, she said a site-wide rezoning is more appropriate.

“We had been working on an SUP application for this, and then it became clear that that actually didn’t make any sense, that it made more sense to do a full-scale rezoning,” Pechin said. “It’s kind of the perfect candidate for a city-initiated rezoning, considering we do still own all of the property.”

The $2.4 billion development, to be implemented in four stages over 15 years, will include the ballpark, 6,800 structured parking spaces, 2,863 rental units, 157 homes, 935,000 square feet of office space, two hotels offering 330 rooms and 195,000 square feet of retail space. Previous announcements regarding the ballpark indicated a capacity of 10,000, with approximately 8,000 fixed seats and room for approximately 2,000 standing room fans. In addition, the new ballpark would feature 20 suites and 500 club seats, with adjacent private club space designed to be able to accommodate additional events like meetings, receptions, parties and other events. And, obviously, the new ballpark would meet current MiLB facility standards. The Flying Squirrels would play 70 games there, with VCU playing another 30. An additional 100 events are projected, with the cost of the ballpark forecast as $80-$100 million. Here’s an overview of the development.

Up next: the city will sell The Diamond and surrounding acreage to developers for $16 million to launch the Diamond District; in return, the developers will invest at $627.6 million in initial planning and construction, including the ballpark (a 2025 opening is a hard deadline) and 1,729 residential rental and individual-owned units

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