Richmond Moves Forward with Southside Casino Proposal

Ocean Casino Resort


An evaluation panel has selected its preferred casino operator and site to be approved by the Richmond City Council, before the proposal heads to the November ballot for approval by voters. The city received six potential proposals and selected the ONE Casino + Resort proposal that would be located at Commerce Road and Walmsley in Southside Richmond.

“ONE Casino + Resort presents a tremendous opportunity to develop a resort casino project in Richmond,” Mayor Levar Stoney said in a press release announcing the project. “The project will create over 1,000 good paying jobs, generate a significant amount of new revenue for the city, and establish an additional economic engine in South Richmond. I applaud the work of the Evaluation Panel in their vetting of the proposals and engaging the entire city throughout this project.”

A project fact sheet claims the project will lead to 5,600 construction and permanent jobs with a $55,000 average yearly salary and a $15-an-hour starting wage, according to a fact sheet.The proposal includes 2,000 slot machines, 110 table games, a 250-room hotel, a 3,000 capacity event center, and a 55 acre park and greenspace. The project is a partnership with Urban One, Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, and Live Nation. According to a project website, the resort will be a majority Black-owned business, with a 50 percent workforce diversity goal for construction, a 50 percent workforce diversity goal, and a 50 percent hiring goal among Richmond residents.

Stoney will introduced the proposal to the City Council on Monday. A virtual public information meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Richmond officials have sought a major tourism and entertainment venue for years, with a famous failed attempt to use city funds for a Navy Hill coliseum. Some developers from the coliseum proposal are now working to bring a coliseum to neighboring Henrico County.

There has been opposition to the various casino proposals in other parts of the city as well. But Richmond City Councilor Michael Jones told The Virginia Star he thinks the ONE Casino project will be different, partly because it will not be funded by any taxpayer dollars, and partly because of its location in an industrial area in Richmond’s less-affluent Southside.

“For far too long we have seen economic development interests and city resources go to affluent communities assisting to the gentrifying of historic African-American neighborhoods. This represents the long awaited 18-degree turn on the Southside,” Jones said in a press release.

Jones told The Star that the casino proposals found people who disapproved morally and not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) opponents. The winning proposal’s location solves the second problem.

He said he met with leaders of the proposals. “I was like, “Real estate, real estate, real estate. Location location location location. You’re in Northside, that’s not going to fly. You’re on the Southside, you got a chance. And that was the truth.”

Jones thinks voters will approve the question.

“People want jobs, black and white, conservative and liberal. People want jobs. People need jobs,” Jones said. “You want to get at gun violence in the city? Put people to work. Put people to work, give them good jobs.”

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network.  Email tips to [email protected]

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