Before a large slice of Shockoe Bottom can be transformed into a baseball stadium bordered by new residential and commercial development, the various players involved in the plan would need to acquire more than a dozen privately owned parcels that make up the sea of parking lots that exists there today.
Most of the land is owned by the Loving family, whose produce company moved to South Richmond in 2007 after more than 50 years in the Bottom, but both sides have been unwilling to go into the details of the potential land deal.
Clifford B. Porter, a real estate broker who has been involved with the Loving parcels, declined to comment this week on the status of any negotiations with the city.
“The owners are willing to sell their properties,” said Tammy D. Hawley, press secretary to Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “No terms have been agreed to at this time.”
The old Loving’s Produce building on East Grace Street is the only major structure located squarely in the development footprint.
The city already owns four lots in the area that are used for parking. The Weiman’s Bakery property, where home plate would lie, was purchased this year by developers David White and H. Louis Salomonsky, who would handle the 700 new apartments involved in the Shockoe proposal.
If the area is developed as proposed, property that currently generates $55,000 in real estate tax revenue per year will produce up to $1.5 million per year, according to city officials.
“It also cleans up a blighted, underutilized area which is right now mostly vacant parking lots, gravel lots and sometimes vacant buildings,” Lee Downey, the city’s director of economic and community development, said at a Richmond City Council committee meeting last week.
City officials have separated the project footprint into three basic areas: north of Broad Street, south of Broad, and heritage sites between the railroad tracks and Interstate 95.
The city, which would mainly be concerned with acquiring 3.1 acres south of Broad for the stadium itself and the apartments flanking it, has estimated its land-acquisition costs at $4.4 million. The Richmond Economic Development Authority would act as the city’s agent.
“They would purchase the land at fair market value on the south side and work with the developers to either swap or sell them land as appropriate,” Chief Administrative Officer Byron C. Marshall said in a recent council committee presentation.
A grocery store, hotel and parking deck would go north of Broad, where the city has identified roughly 5.3 acres that would be needed, all owned by the Loving family.
The city already owns both the Lumpkin’s Jail site and the African burial ground, which would be used to memorialize the Bottom’s historical ties to the slave trade.
The Exxon gas station on Broad would be just outside the project boundary, according to city maps.
Portions of three streets will also have to be closed if the project moves forward: Crane Street between Broad Street and Grace Street, Grace between Ambler Street and North 18th Street, and North 17th Street between East Franklin Street and Broad.