South Richmond property owner Damon Harris was shocked when he discovered a pro-casino banner on his property, which he had not given permission for. In response, he tore down the sign, expressing his frustration with the proposed casino plan. Harris, who aims to repurpose the abandoned building into a “legacy center” for the community, believes that Southside residents need more support and investment to address their needs.
Harris, who runs the real estate firm Teal House Company, focuses on combating displacement and the negative effects of gentrification in Richmond’s Southside neighborhoods. He emphasized the importance of prioritizing the people and investing in their stability and infrastructure to create positive change.
Despite the endorsement of the casino proposal by a majority of Southside voters in certain districts, the city as a whole rejected the idea in a recent referendum. Harris criticized the allocation of funds for marketing the casino instead of investing in the community.
In response to the defeat of the casino proposal, Delegate-elect and Richmond City Council President Mike Jones stressed the need to find economic development opportunities and address the challenges facing South Richmond. He highlighted issues such as the lack of grocery stores and job opportunities in the area.
While Mayor Levar Stoney expressed disappointment in the outcome, he emphasized the importance of creating revenue through projects like the casino to address the city’s problems. However, with the setback, the mayor vowed to explore alternative sources of funding to support initiatives such as childcare programs.
Urban One founder Cathy Hughes, whose company was involved in promoting the casino, expressed frustration over the campaign’s expenses. Harris believed that the casino vote had divided the city and is organizing a community conversation to discuss ways to move forward.
Overall, Harris emphasized the city’s potential and the importance of investing in its people rather than relying on external entities. As the community continues to navigate the aftermath of the casino referendum, leaders and residents are seeking collaborative solutions to address the challenges facing South Richmond.