Rocking on the Riverfront

A new downtown amphitheater is in the planning stages.

For years, music fans in the city have complained that national touring acts bypass Richmond for Charlottesville and the Hampton Roads area because of a lack of performance venues.

Help seems to be on the way.

At Monday’s Richmond City Council meeting, a performance grant agreement was approved between the city and Richmond Amphitheater, LLC to facilitate the construction of a privately funded, $30 million outdoor venue on a four-acre site situated behind Tredegar Iron Works, overlooking the James River.

It’s an area well known to concertgoers who attend the Richmond Folk Festival, Friday Cheers and concerts at Brown’s Island. NewMarket Corporation owns the land and would lease the location for the privately-funded venue.

According to a joint statement released by the city and developer, the 20-year performance grant would be based on an incremental new Real Estate Tax and Admissions Tax generated by the project that would help to offset costs. The goal is to start construction this summer in time to open for the 2025 summer concert season.

City council still needs to vote on the agreement, which was referred to the body’s Organizational Development Standing Committee for a meeting slated for June 5. So far, the plan has Mayor Levar Stoney’s seal of approval, as well as that of council president Michael Jones. “The proposed amphitheater project promises to be a shining example of all that Richmond represents,” Jones says in a press statement, “bringing together music, culture, and recreation for an unforgettable experience.

The 7,500-seat Riverfront Performing Arts Venue is projected to host 25-35 major touring artists annually. It’s the brainchild of Coran Capshaw, the founder and CEO of the Charlottesville-based Red Light Management, whose concert promoting subsidiary, Starr Hill Presents, has been a partner in several prominent national music festivals, including Bonnaroo and South by Southwest. Capshaw, with the City of Charlottesville, developed the Ting Pavilion, which holds 3,500, in 2005.

According to the statement, the venue would “allow the city of Richmond and local nonprofits to utilize the venue for civic events, including graduation ceremonies, public forums, and city-sponsored cultural events.” This would, theoretically, include the Richmond Folk Festival but details were not forthcoming.

“Richmond is known for its vibrant arts and music scene, but for too many years, big-name artists have bypassed the city because it didn’t have a suitable venue,” Capshaw said in the statement. “This spectacular location offers the ideal place to showcase and build upon the growing energy surrounding Richmond’s riverfront.”

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