Monroe Harris: Discuss future of Downtown with facts

Monroe Harris, a board member on the Navy Hill Foundation, writes in the Richmond Free Press:

First, Navy Hill is the only plan being discussed that will create approximately $1 billion in surplus revenue, $500 million of which is slated for public schools and $150 million to support housing opportunities and homeless services.

Contrary to what you might have read in other articles, the City of Richmond will start getting those funds in as little as five or six years. These facts were presented in documents to the Richmond City Council and the projections have been scrutinized and vetted by outside experts. I am confident they will stand up under scrutiny of the City Council and the independent advisory commission that City Council has appointed.

Second, this plan includes $1 billion in private investment to fund offices and retail spaces, mixed-income housing, restaurants and new transit options, and it makes Downtown more pedestrian-friendly and walkable.

When people say private investors should pay for development Downtown, that’s exactly what is happening with this project. These are investments in our Downtown that will create benefits for the entire city.

Third, the arena is paid for with the future taxes generated by this private investment and will not take any existing funds away from the city or raise taxes on any residents. The city is under no obligation to pay back bondholders who will fund the arena development. These private investors are on the hook, not the City of Richmond and not taxpayers.

Read the full op-ed at the Richmond Free Press.

Jeff Kelley