The City of Richmond might soon have a casino. Unlike other localities in Virginia, Richmond took more time for input and competition. I generally think it was a good-faith effort, but one aspect of the process seems flawed in retrospect. Six proposals were submitted by different vendors for casinos and entertainment venues connected to different sections of the city. For example, one piece of property was near a fairly dense urban node, another on a forest/wetland in a suburban area south of the river, and a third on a brownfield near I-95.
To me, the vote between the different proposals was more a vote on land use than a real good faith comparison of the different vendor proposals. This to me seems like bad land use policy. We shouldn’t find a use (casino!) and try and plug it in somewhere. We should look at our land as a limited resource connected to infrastructure and communities and decide what it’s highest use with minimal negative impact could be. Then, developers can maximize that pre-determined potential. That should have been the first step of the process: vote on the parcel of land. Regarding the final decision, I’m pleased that it ended up being on the brownfield near I-95, but I don’t care about the vendor at all.
The real problem with this process is that it discouraged competition. It should have been realized ahead of time that neighborhoods might oppose the idea of a casino. We could have guessed that it would end up where it did. But all the other vendors lost their opportunity to have a fair chance, and we lost our opportunity to possibly have the best final outcome, because we were voting on land use and the casino was an afterthought.