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Crews Begin Building Richmond, Va.'s New $30M Riverfront Amphitheater Project

Tue October 31, 2023 - Northeast Edition
Richmond BizSense

The Richmond Amphitheater will be a community gathering space, host community-based activities and offer to be the primary stage for the annual Folk Festival. (Richmond Amphitheater rendering)
The Richmond Amphitheater will be a community gathering space, host community-based activities and offer to be the primary stage for the annual Folk Festival. (Richmond Amphitheater rendering)

Work has gotten rolling in recent days in Richmond, Va., to build a highly anticipated riverfront amphitheater — a project designed to keep the city's Tredegar hillside rocking for many years to come.

Richmond BizSense reported Oct. 18 that fencing had just began going up and site work was starting on the Richmond Amphitheater, a 7,500-seat venue from Virginia music executive Coran Capshaw's Red Light Ventures, scheduled to open in spring 2025.

The developer behind Charlottesville's Ting Pavilion has made recent filings with Richmond's building permit office, including those for temporary construction trailers and new buildings on the four-acre site uphill from the Tredegar Iron Works complex along the James River.

Bruce Hazelgrove, chief administrative officer for NewMarket Corp., which owns the land and is leasing the site, said work followed the conclusion of the Richmond Folk Festival, held Oct. 13-15.

Red Light is working on the project with IMGoing Events, a Virginia Beach-based firm led by longtime live music promoter and Cellar Door veteran Ken MacDonald. Concerts would be put on by Starr Hill Presents, Red Light's promotional arm.

Amphitheater to Be Built Into Curved Hillside

Charlottesville-based Martin Horn Inc. is the lead general contractor on the project, working locally with Conquest, Moncure & Dunn, a Richmond building company. The amphitheater's architect is 3North, another Richmond firm, and TRC Companies in Henrico, Va., is the engineering firm working on the project.

Announced last year, the $30 million amphitheater development was given the green light in June, when the Richmond City Council approved a performance grant agreement after coming to terms with the development group in May. Per the agreement, the city would provide a 20-year performance grant based on the new incremental real estate and admissions tax revenue generated by the project to help offset the project cost.

The developers also filed in recent weeks for a zoning compliance certificate and the building permit for what is described in the filings as Gambles Hill Amphitheater, referring to the name of the hillside that is part of NewMarket's campus. That company is retaining ownership of the site through a long-term lease with Red Light, which is responsible for funding the amphitheater project.

The filings reveal the amphitheater's orientation on the site, fitted between Tredegar and the filled-in portion of the Kanawha Canal, which follows a curve in the hillside that forms an amphitheater-shaped footprint, noted Richmond BizSense. The filings also show a temporary stockpile site for soil and parking areas downhill from Second Street, and a route for equipment deliveries and laydowns around the Tredegar complex.

The Richmond Amphitheater site is just west of the construction site for CoStar Group's planned high-rise at 600 Tredegar St. The $460 million Richmond office complex will include a 26-story tower and its own smaller amphitheater.

Red Light, IMGoing Events and Starr Hill Presents are aiming to open the amphitheater in time for the 2025 outdoor concert season and expect to host 25 to 35 concerts per year. The venue also would host community events and is intended to be used by the Richmond Folk Festival, with flexibility to host 10,000 people or more. Existing parking is expected to accommodate the venue, similar to the folk festival and other events held at the riverfront.

Capshaw, a Charlottesville native, manages the Dave Matthews Band and is involved in the ownership or management of similar venues across the country, including the Ting Pavilion amphitheater in his hometown, and 6,800-capacity Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville, Tenn.

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