If at first you don’t succeed, try again? That’s what the Richmond, Va., City Council has done with respect to a casino referendum which, if approved by voters, will bring a casino resort owned by Urban One to fruition.
The 8-1 move comes following a devastating November 2021 election defeat of the original proposal.
As first reported by Streamline Publishing’s Radio Ink, Richmond City Council on Tuesday evening voted 8-1 to place the ONE Casino + Resort proposal on the ballot for another vote.
While local media outlets were relatively mum on the decision, Richmond BizSense, the city’s business newspaper, offered a full update on the move. The key difference with the new referendum, the newspaper notes, is “a promise to cut the real estate tax rate as a sweetener.”
This would bring the ONE Casino + Resort project back to the fold for Richmond, and prevent Urban One from seeking out sites in other Virginia municipalities, which CEO Alfred Liggins III said in November was something he was prepared to do.
The City of Richmond’s Tuesday vote saw leaders note that Urban One “didn’t show its full cards” in the first referendum, and that the benefits from the $565 million proposal are simply too good to pass up.
Of the nine members of the city council, Katherine Jordan of the Second District was the sole dissenter at the virtual meeting held on Zoom due to continued COVID-19 concerns.
In November, some 51.4% of voters disapproved the referendum. Now, they will get a new pitch touting not only positive economic impacts, but job creation and other benefits. These include a commitment to a two-cent reduction in the city real estate tax rate, and $560 million in capital investment specifically to Richmond Public Schools and city projects, Richmond BizSense reports.
Liggins appeared at the virtual hearing. He commented, “Many referendums are reheard, particularly if the project and the benefits of the project have changed. I applaud the administration and council for starting the discussion tonight on the main issue I heard from people of where the dollars are actually going, who was going to benefit.”
The project is estimated to cost approximately $563 million and Urban One’s aggregate capital investment in RVA Entertainment Holdings, LLC (RVAEH) is anticipated to be up to approximately $100 million. The company’s investment will be sourced from a combination of cash on Urban One’s balance sheet and/or capacity from the company’s undrawn $50 million revolver. The company also anticipates investment from local investors in the amount of $11.5 million as well as a personal investment by Liggins, Urban One stated in a recent SEC filing.