Voters in Richmond, Virginia, will decide next November whether they want to authorize a casino resort to ignite economic growth in the state capital.
The local ballot referendum will include specifics on the casino to allow voters to make an informed decision. The Richmond Department of Economic Development is handling the bidding process, and schemes are arriving from interested casino operators.
The Cordish Companies has, so far, submitted the largest investment. The Maryland-based casino and hospitality firm has pitched its plans to construct a $600 million development in the Scott’s Addition Historic District in downtown Richmond.
The project, named Live! Casino & Hotel Richmond, includes a gaming floor measuring 250,000 square feet, a 300-room hotel, and live entertainment space with capacity for 4,000 people.
The targeted site is presently occupied by the Movieland theater complex. Owner Bow Tie Partners has offered to sell the 17-acre site to Cordish.
Cordish owns and operates three Live! casinos in Maryland and Pennsylvania. The company opened its $700 million Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia earlier this month.
Other Richmond Pitches
Cordish isn’t the only casino operator that has submitted a casino blueprint to officials in Richmond. Over the weekend, a Black-owned media conglomerate based in the nation’s capital presented the city with a $517 million casino plan.
Urban One, a publicly traded conglomerate with a mission “to be the most trusted source in the African-American community that informs, entertains, and inspires,” has partnered with the parent organization of Colonial Downs and Rosie’s Gaming Emporium venues.
The Urban-Colonial bid targets a location in South Richmond across the James River from the capital area. The property would come with a smaller casino and hotel — 90,000 square feet of gaming space and a 150-room hotel. An entertainment venue would accommodate 3,000 people.
The Pamunkey Indian Tribe, which is already under development for a casino in Norfolk, is also seeking licensure in Richmond. It, too, is targeting South Richmond. The tribe has not yet formally unveiled its casino pitch. But the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the general sentiment among the predominantly Black neighborhoods in the area is that the Urban One proposal is preferred.
Urban One is not a foreigner to the gaming industry. The company owns a $40 million, seven percent stake in MGM National Harbor just outside DC in Maryland.
The Cordish Companies says it’s the most qualified applicant to build and operate a casino in Richmond.
No gaming or development company in the country has our track record of successfully designing, financing, building and operating large-scale casino entertainment resort destinations in regional markets,” said Zed Smith, chief operating officer and partner at Cordish.
Cordish is already frustrated in Virginia, as it believes it was wronged by Norfolk when it selected the Pamunkey tribe as its casino developer. Cordish is suing the city on claims that a 2013 development agreement it entered into with Norfolk promised it gaming rights should Virginia legalize commercial gambling. The pact was part of Cordish’s agreement to invest $40 million into the Waterfront District.
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