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Update: Finalist list for Diamond District developer narrows

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The city of Richmond announced Friday that it is now considering just two development teams to replace The Diamond and build a new neighborhood around it.

According to a news release from the city, a panel of city officials has narrowed the field to RVA Diamond Partners and Richmond Community Development Partners, meaning that the Vision300 team that includes the Hourigan Group, Canterbury Enterprises, Timmons Group and Boston-based Freehold Capital Management is no longer being considered.

A new 10-page FAQ released by the city on Friday says officials expect to officially select a preferred development team “by the end of the summer.”

“Panel members have been in communications with finalists to test financial assumptions to fully understand the stadium and infrastructure financing,” according to the document. “These discussions enable the Evaluation Panel to recommend the best development team with the best financial proposal to fulfill the city’s vision for the Diamond District.”

Members of the city panel include City Council members Katherine Jordan and Ann-Frances Lambert; Chief Administrative Officer Lincoln Saunders; Director of Economic Development Leonard Sledge; and James Duval, the city’s investment and debt portfolio manager.

The city has set its sights on redeveloping the area around The Diamond in hopes of capitalizing on recent economic growth in the nearby Scott’s Addition neighborhood and replacing the stadium so that the city’s Double-A Flying Squirrels baseball team can stay in Richmond.

After the city rezoned the area around the stadium last summer, the city earlier this year started soliciting developers to submit development proposals for the nearly 70 acres of public land where The Diamond is located.

City officials have said they envision new development at the site including mixed-use buildings and apartment complexes, retail shopping, restaurants and possibly a signature high-rise hotel or office.

The two remaining development teams have not revealed detailed plans yet, but officials and representatives have described some aspects of the project.

Affiliates of RVA Diamond Partners — which includes Thalhimer Realty Partners, Washington-based Republic Properties Corp. and Loop Capital of Chicago — have said their project will feature an 11-acre crescent park that winds through the development side and has a direct connection with the new ballpark.

Richmond Community Development Partners, led by Houston-based development firm Machete Group in partnership with JMA Ventures of San Francisco and Gilbane Building Co., have said they intend to build a “vibrant urban destination” with components of affordable housing.

The project faces a short timeline, as the management of the Flying Squirrels says a new stadium is needed by 2025 in order to meet new facility standards established by Major League Baseball. Otherwise, the team could leave. City officials say renovation of The Diamond, which opened in 1985, is not feasible.

A city-commissioned study says a new stadium could cost at least $80 million. Richmond officials have said they are seeking to minimize public financing for the development.

In order for the project to happen, the City Council must approve the sale of the property as well as the terms and conditions of the partnership. Seven of its nine members must vote for it to proceed.

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