Tonight, City Council is set to consider whether to take out $23 million in general obligation bonds to construct a brewery for Stone Brewing Co.
A handful of prominent restaurant owners have said they intend to appear at the meeting to oppose a later stage of the city’s agreement with Stone, which calls for the city to fund construction of an $8 million restaurant on the river.
Style detailed the restaurant owners’ concerns here, but in short, they don’t think it’s fair for the city to give a private company money to compete against them: “If they want to build a restaurant, let them finance and build it themselves just like all the rest of us have,” says Jerry Cable, who opened the Tobacco Company 37 years ago in Shockoe Slip. “How can we compete with a company that has no money in the project?”
Expect to hear a lot tonight from proponents and detractors.
A handful of ordinances and resolutions related to the stalled stadium debate are also schedule to come up. Among them are measures that would:
- Express council’s support for the Shockoe Economic Revitalization Strategy, a plan released in 2011 that was put together through a series of community meetings. It outlines how neighbors and the city think Shockoe Bottom should be developed, and it makes no mention of a baseball stadium.
- Request the city’s chief administrative officer to put out a request for proposals to select a company to plan the development of the city owned property on the Boulevard, where the Diamond sits. When it became clear City Council wouldn’t support the mayor’s Shockoe Bottom plan, which calls for the city’s minor league baseball stadium to be moved from the Boulevard to Shockoe Bottom, work to determine just what might go on the Boulevard stalled. This is council’s attempt to get that going again. And it’s worth noting that a private development company, Rebkee, has said it has a plan to build a stadium on the Boulevard with private funds. This could give it an opportunity to move forward with that plan. Update: This item was continued until "at least" January.
- To “support efforts by the Economic Development Authority” to negotiate to buy a handful of properties in Shockoe Bottom that council members say are necessary to revitalizing the neighborhood -- with or without a stadium.
- A resolution asking the mayor to seek regional participation in the construction of a stadium has been continued until next year.
Council members Ellen Robertson, Cynthia Newbille and Michelle Mosby are proposing that the city establish a policy that the city will appropriate $2.5 million annually to cover debt service on bonds taken out to improve the city’s ailing public school buildings.
And, from the consent agenda, meaning these ordinances are expected to pass with little discussion or debate. City Council will consider:
- Transfering $65,000 to the EDA, which will in turn transfer the money to Wyeth LLC, aka Pfizer. It’s the first of 10 annual installments totaling $650,000. Pfizer bought Wyeth in 2009, and the city agreed in 2010 to pay Pfizer the money to keep “this highly respected company’s over the counter consumer goods research and development center” on Sherwood Avenue, according to a memo submitted by the economic development department. It’s unclear why the transfer, if it was approved in 2010, wasn’t included in the current year’s budget when it was planned earlier this year.
- Studying compensation of public employees in nearby localities so that the city can make sure it pays its employees competitively. Submitted by Councilwoman Ellen Robertson, this ordinance addresses long-running concerns by police and firefighters that the respective departments were losing personnel to the nearby counties, which reportedly pay better than the city. Update: This item was continued at the request of Robertson.
- Renaming the alley behind the Sidewalk Café on Main Street “Sidewalk Alley.” The alley needs a name because two apartments are being developed that will be accessible only through the alley, and they need an address.
- Selling a piece of property adjacent to the Martin Agency for $916,000 so the advertising agency can expand its Shockoe Slip headquarters.
You can find the full agenda for the meeting here.