During a virtual meeting with City of Richmond officials and citizens, one question was present: Where will the new Richmond casino be located?
On Tuesday, city officials held the latest community meeting as Richmond prepares for a possible casino resort.
During the November election, voters will cast ballots for the casino referendum. Four other Virginia cities overwhelmingly voted in favor of casinos in 2020 after the Virginia General Assembly legalized casino gambling and sports betting in 2020.
Will Richmond join those other Virginia casinos? As we learned during Tuesday’s meeting, citizens have plenty of concerns. Chief among them? The potential Richmond casino location, and how will it impact daily life in the Virginia capital city?
City of Richmond timeline for casino
City of Richmond officials Leonard Sledge and Maritza Mercado Pechin hosted Tuesday’s meeting. The city has scheduled multiple of these “public engagement opportunities,” including three next week.
The latest 90-minute session featured highlights of the Request for Qualifications/Proposals (RFQ/P) that the city received for the casino project. Those hopefuls submitted their proposals by the Feb. 22 deadline. Six groups, including some veteran gaming heavyweights, are vying for the casino project:
- Bally’s Corporation: $650 million Bally Richmond Casino Resort
- The Cordish Co.: $600 million Live! Casino & Hotel Richmond
- Golden Nugget Hotels & Casinos: $400 million Golden Nugget Richmond Hotel & Casino
- Pamunkey Indian Tribe: $350 million Pamunkey Casino Resort Richmond
- Urban One and Colonial Downs: $517 million casino-resort (name TBA)
- Wind Creek Hospitality: $541 million Wind Creek Richmond
Up next, a nine-member evaluation panel will review the proposals. Two members of the Richmond City Council (Ellen Robertson and Andreas Addison) and other local officials are part of the panel, which is consulting with Convergence Strategy Group.
One of the panel’s primary directives is to listen to citizen’s feedback. And there’s been no shortage of that, especially when it comes to the potential casino’s location and surrounding neighborhoods.
Residents’ primary concern? Location, location, location
Citizens can submit their questions, concerns, and comments about the proposed Richmond casino. Through the Konveio outreach and feedback system, they can issue feedback on any of the three boards:
- Community benefits
- Revenue uses
At Tuesday’s meeting, Pechin, who is the manager of the Office of Equitable Development for the City of Richmond, addressed many of the comments.
“We’ve had 241 total comments posted, and the good majority of them are specifically about locations,” she said. “Some of them say people don’t want a resort-casino or they’re upset about various items. …”
“Some of them are … thinking about how the environment may be impacted by sites. (There are also) concerns about traffic and safety.”
In fact, 75 of the 241 comments focused on the possible casino location. Many residents who could be impacted by the construction, traffic disruptions, and influx of visitors have voiced their concerns.
What residents are saying about Richmond casino
A sampling of the comments from the City of Richmond casino feedback boards:
“(I) live in Westlake Hills and I am writing to share my concerns regarding the casino proposals. If the proposed south side location is selected I would literally see a (casino) from my bedroom window. I can only imagine what that would do to our property value and how much it would detract from the neighborhood. It seems like an unfair burden for a segment of the city which already has lower property values. …”
“… Preference should be given to sites that are willing to build garages instead of massive surface parking lots, and preference should be given to non-greenfield developments. The Powhite/Chippenham sites are not desirable because they are currently wetlands, and I believe one of them is showing a massive amount of parking.”
“100% opposed to Wind Creek’s location! Caritas JUST invested in our community with new house, job and rehab opportunities for its participants. WC would be in Caritas’ backyard; to me that’s a negative proposal.”
Sledge, the director of the Department of Economic Development for the City of Richmond, said the panel is taking the feedback seriously.
“The evaluation panel, we are taking that feedback into consideration and doing our due diligence in terms of combing through the proposals,” he said.
Richmond casino site locations
From the RVA website linked above, you can see a map showing all of the potential casino host sites.
- Bally’s Corporation: 61-acre site at the intersection of Chippenham Parkway and Powhite Parkway
- The Cordish Cos.: Intersection of North Arthur Ashe Boulevard and West Leigh Street
- Golden Nugget Hotels & Casinos: Same as Bally’s Corporation
- Pamunkey Indian Tribe: Undeveloped site on South Commerce Drive catty-corner from the proposed Urban One site
- Urban One and Colonial Downs: Former Altria Operations Center site on South Commerce Road
- Wind Creek Hospitality: Corner of East Commerce Road and Ingram Avenue