After lengthy negotiations over the weekend and today secured concessions on schools funding in exchange for key votes, Richmond’s City Council tonight approved Mayor Dwight C. Jones’ economic-development package that will build a nearly $9 million training camp facility for the Washington Redskins and allow two major hospital expansions.

A list of “enhancements,” the fruit of hours of talks with council members who opposed the deal in its original form, were compiled into a resolution today and approved the same night in an expedited procedure. The package, which will mean $6.3 million in commitments to city school facilities over 10 years, passed unanimously, along with other pieces of legislation authorizing the overall Redskins deal. It sets in motion Jones’ ambitious plan to build the camp for the team by July of next year, part of an economic incentive deal between the state and the team announced in June.

Bon Secours Richmond Health System had agreed to be the major sponsor of the training camp to be built over the next seven months on land off Leigh Street behind the Science Museum of Virginia, which will be leased from the state. In exchange for $6.4 million in naming rights and lease fees, the city will lease the Westhampton school site to the hospital system for a major expansion of St. Mary’s Hospital. An expansion of Richmond Community Hospital in the East End is also planned. The original lease for the Westhampton property was to be $5,000 a year for 60 years.

A key piece of the deal, however, required three-fourths majority approval of the council. At least three of the council’s nine members opposed the original proposal, considering it a circumvention of a city ordinance that dictates that proceeds from the sale of school buildings must revert to the school system for new construction and maintenance.

Under the terms of the amendments the council approved Monday, the hospital system will pay $33,000 a year for the Westhampton property and commit $100,000 a year for 10 years for school projects. A playground on the site will be relocated to “a nearby city-owned property of the community’s choice.”

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After lengthy negotiations over the weekend and today secured key votes, Richmond’s City Council is expected to approve Mayor Dwight C. Jones’ economic development package that will build a nearly $9 million training camp facility for the Washington Redskins and allow two major hospital expansions.

A list of “enhancements,” the fruit of hours of talks with council members who opposed the deal in its original form, will be compiled into a resolution and voted on tonight. The package, which will mean $6.3 million in commitments to city school facilities over 10 years, is expected to pass.

Bon Secours Richmond Health System had agreed to be the major sponsor of the camp in exchange for a $5,000 yearly lease on the Westhampton school site for 60 years, among other provisions. A key piece of the deal, however, required three-quarters of the council to approve it, and at least three of the council’s nine members opposed the original proposal, considering it end-run around a city ordinance that dictates that proceeds from the sale of school buildings must revert to the school system for new construction and maintenance.

Under the terms of the amendments the council is expected to approve tonight, the hospital system will pay $33,000 a year for the Westhampton property and commit $100,000 a year for 10 years for school projects. The resolution also commits the city to maintain present levels of capital budget funding for schools and appropriate hundreds of thousands of dollars in expected gains in tax revenue from the deal to the school system.

“This thing was ugly last week,” said 5th District Councilman E. Martin Jewell, one of four council members who raised concerns about the deal. “This is a long way from where we were.”

Jewell, 3rd District Councilman Chris A. Hilbert, 1st District Councilman Bruce W. Tyler and 8th District Councilwoman Reva M. Trammell negotiated with city officials, Bon Secours and the team to secure the concessions.

“We have a better deal than we had two weeks ago,” Hilbert said. “I believe that is in part because everybody was willing to be flexible on this.”

The Redskins have also agreed to allocate one seat on the team’s Charitable Foundation Leadership Council for appointment by the mayor during the term of the team’s training camp stay in the city.

Jones issued a statement tonight outlining the proposed changes to the Redskins deal.

“These changes combined essentially result in $6.3 million additional dollars being focused on investment in city schools over 10 years,” he said. “For me, this settles the discussion as to what benefit would have gone to the school system had we outright sold the Westhampton property. With these agreed-upon enhancements, we have a net gain for our city – with the $42 million economic development gain that our economic development plan yields and we have a gain for our schools with the focused reinvestment of resources into our school system.”

(This has been a breaking news update. Check back for more details as they become available. Read more in tomorrow's Richmond Times-Dispatch.)

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