Sometimes I wonder if anyone in Richmond city government ever learns anything about anything. The city has experienced a string of failures over the decades, starting with the grandiose Sixth Street Marketplace that was supposed to revitalize downtown retail in the mid-1980s and came to an end in 2007 when most of the structure was unceremoniously torn down. Undeterred by what should have been a searing memory, the city has squandered millions on several other high-profile revitalization projects of dubious value, the most notorious of which has been the Washington Redskins training camp.
The most recent folly is the $45 million renovation of the Main Street Station train shed, part of a larger, $90 million renovation of iconic station in downtown Richmond. The end result, though visually splendid, fulfills no clearly demonstrated need. The bottom floor will be dedicated to retail space, of which there is no shortage in the Richmond region, and the top floor to meeting space, of which there is an outright abundance.
“Free” federal and state money is covering for most of the up-front cost of the project, but the train shed facility will require $1.7 million in operating subsidies in just the first year. The city already subsidizes the Coliseum to the tune of $1.7 million a year and the Convention Center by $8 million a year, as the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. In other words, the city will spend millions of dollars to support an event facility that will to some degree compete with, and cannibalize, other event facilities that it is subsidizing.
That’s about as stupid as it gets. Kudos to City Council members Parker Agelasto and Chris Hilbert for asking questions.There are currently no comments highlighted.