City begins to reclaim Coliseum site, publishes draft Shockoe Bottom plan


The city begins to recover the Colosseum to prepare the shutter structure for demolition. (BizSense File Images)

As it rolls out a draft plan for the Shockoe Bottom area, the City of Richmond is preparing to implement a separate effort that calls for the Colosseum to be demolished – although the latter plan has yet to be adopted.

Administrators announced Monday that the city is moving forward with a 50-year-old arena salvage process, in anticipation of city council adoption of the draft plan for small downtown areas, which recommends replacing the Colosseum with a mix of commercial, residential and office buildings.

On the same day, the city released its Draft Shockoe Small Area Plan, a document that has been around for years to guide growth in Shockoe Bottom and the surrounding area.

The public is encouraged to review and provide feedback on the Shockoe Plan, which would be incorporated into the city’s Richmond 300 Master Plan which was adopted in December.

A similar public engagement process was carried out for the downtown plan, which was released last month and presented to council members and the planning commission.

But while the public comment period on the plan ended last week, the downtown plan has yet to be voted on by the commission or council, which may or may not agree with the recommendation for demolition. Some observers have called for the structure to be retained and rehabilitated, rather than replaced.

The city plans to have the Colosseum demolished and replaced with a mix of commercial, residential and office buildings.

The city’s announcement noted that demolition would not begin “until the (downtown) plan is adopted by Richmond City Council,” adding that pre-demolition salvage is “a standard cost-saving measure. and security ”. Continuing with the recovery process, the city said, would prepare the site for demolition and cover the operation and maintenance costs of the structure, which the city closed in late 2018.

Administrators said the maintenance of the Colosseum cost the city $ 800,000 a year. And with plans in place for a new regional arena in Henrico County, they said they were not looking to reopen it.

Sam Schwartzkopf, city spokesman, said the decision to initiate the salvage process was aimed at preparing the building for demolition sooner. She did not provide the salvage contractor or the cost of the project in time for this story.

“The sooner the rescue begins, the sooner the city can act, once the small area plan is adopted,” Schwartzkopf said. “We are confident in the plan’s vision for our downtown area, especially since it is consistent with the Richmond 300, the master plan that has already been unanimously adopted by City Council.

A rendering of the slavery museum planned between the railways and the highway.

Comments sought on the Shockoe Bottom plan

Meanwhile, public comments on Shockoe’s draft plan are accepted until August 27. The comments received could be used to formulate an amended proposal which would then be presented to the Planning Commission and City Council, as well for potential adoption and inclusion in Richmond 300.

In preparation for the past two years, the 200-page document stems from several planning efforts that led to the formation of the Shockoe Alliance group, which helped guide the development of the plan. Like Richmond 300, he envisions how the Shockoe region might develop by 2037 – the city’s tercentenary.

The plan recommends several long-term goals, including the development of a “heritage campus” and a park commemorating the region’s history as a hub of the slave trade – one of the six “great movements”. Which are encouraged to be taken within the first five years.

It is also recommended to implement four “priority projects” during the first 12-18 months.

These include hiring a cultural resource management company to prepare an archaeological map and other research sites such as the African American cemetery; prepare a call for tenders to design the heritage campus and advance short-term projects; explore a temporary Slavery Museum space inside Main Street Station; and the implementation of zoning recommendations.

The draft plan can be downloaded here and will be presented in an in-person meeting on August 3 and a virtual meeting on August 4. Details of these meetings and additional information are available on the website.

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