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Delegate's Bill Could Give State Tax Money To Richmond Coliseum Redevelopment

Richmond Delegate Jeff Bourne has filed a bill that would funnel some state tax revenue to the Navy Hill redevelopment project. (Craig Carper/VPM)
Richmond Delegate Jeff Bourne has filed a bill that would funnel some state tax revenue to the Navy Hill redevelopment project. (Craig Carper/VPM)

A state lawmaker filed a bill to provide a new funding source for the proposed redevelopment of the Richmond Coliseum.

Richmond’s Democratic Delegate Jeff Bourne filed a bill that would funnel some state tax revenue to the city. If passed, the state would send Richmond the sales tax it collects from the neighborhood surrounding the Coliseum. The area specified in the bill is similar to the project’s proposed footprint, which includes a new downtown arena and privately developed apartments, shops and restaurants.

Bourne said he filed the bill in the hope that the 80-block special taxing district that would help pay for a new arena could be decreased in size.

“If the city council wishes to move forward on the project, this could be a useful tool for them to reduce the size of the district, protect other general fund dollars and make investments in core government services like education,” he said.

Bourne said that he has not fully vetted the Navy Hill project and that his bill should not be construed as support. 

The use of state tax revenue to incentivize economic development, particularly of arenas, isn’t unprecedented, Bourne says.

“It’s not a new idea. Virginia Beach did this in the 2018 or 2019 session to help finance their new arena,” he said. The funding mechanism are similar, but in the case of Virginia Beach, the sales tax used to fund the project was diverted solely from the new arena it financed.

The law would only take effect if Richmond City Council approves the Navy Hill project. They’re expected to take a vote on the issue next month.

Jim Nolan, a spokesperson for Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, welcomed Bourne’s proposal on Thursday.

“This legislation presents a significant opportunity to address concerns we’ve heard from the council and the community about the Navy Hill project,” Nolan said. “At a minimum, we believe that if this option was available to assist Virginia Beach, Richmond residents should have the same opportunity.”

Editor's note: This story was updated to add context to the Delegate's quote about Virginia Beach's arena funding.