City lists new baseball stadium as priority for 66-acre plot
The city of Richmond announced Monday it is marketing the 66.7-acre Diamond baseball stadium property as an area for redevelopment, which likely would include a new stadium for the Richmond Flying Squirrels baseball team. A new website will be launched soon, preceding a “request for interest” released before the end of the year, the city said in a news release.
A flyer for the property — dubbed the Diamond District — calls for the demolishment of the 36-year-old Diamond and a new multipurpose stadium to be constructed in its place. Also listed as part of the city’s vision for the property: a more pedestrian-friendly street grid, parking garages, multiple public parks and new buildings providing employment, retail and mixed-income housing, based on the city’s master plan known as the Richmond 300. The plan was approved earlier this year by the Richmond City Council.
The redevelopment also would likely include a walkable path from the Diamond District to Scott’s Addition, the former industrial hub that has now become a popular residential district with restaurants and breweries.
Sixty acres are owned by the city, and Virginia Commonwealth University owns six acres, the location of the Sports Backers Stadium adjacent to the Diamond. The two will partner on the redevelopment of the property, with the city taking the lead in determining the property’s developer.
“The Diamond site is the premier redevelopment opportunity on the East Coast and presents a transformational opportunity for Richmond,” Maritza Mercado Pechin, Richmond’s deputy director of the Department of Planning and Development Review and leader of the city’s Office of Equitable Development, said in a statement. “Residents were clear in communicating their desires for the redevelopment of the site in Richmond 300 and the Greater Scott’s Addition Small Area Plan. Generating interest in the redevelopment opportunity and issuing the RFI are the next steps to see the shared vision become a reality.”
The Diamond is the home of the Richmond Flying Squirrels Double-A minor league baseball team and an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. The Squirrels have been in Richmond since 2010, when they replaced the Richmond Braves Triple-A team, which moved to Georgia. Team officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Monday afternoon.
The city’s webpage launched Monday says it will “solicit creative development responses from capable and experienced development teams interested in redeveloping 66.7 acres of under-developed, publicly owned property … into a mixed-use, mixed-income entertainment destination. The city has been preparing for a redevelopment of this strategic site for a number of years and, in the process, has relocated city functions, demolished buildings and remediated the site with the exception of the baseball stadium and the Arthur Ashe Junior Athletic Center.”
VCU is planning an “athletic village,” a 40-acre athletic campus, to the northeast of the Diamond District property with facilities for tennis, soccer and track and field events, according to the city, and the Science Museum of Virginia has begun a $21 million construction of a park, garage and greenway.