Community weighs in on downtown Richmond proposal

RICHMOND, Virginia (WWBT) – The community had the opportunity to speak out on Mayor Levar Stoney’s efforts to breathe new life into downtown Richmond.

Neighbors said they were happy to have the opportunity to partner with the city on what could be the proposed “downtown” development. While some are immediately on board, others believe there are issues to be ironed out.

“What we’re trying to do with this plan is bring people back,” said Maritza Mercado Pechin, of the city of Richmond.

“I remember downtown when it was booming and downtown was the region’s foothold, everyone came downtown,” City Councilor Ellen Robertson said.

The mayor said it was time to bring the community to the table.

“I love this vision of downtown green spaces. He really needs it, ”said neighbor Dan Lawrence.

A group gathered at the Richmond Convention Center to learn more about the downtown Stoney map. It seeks to revitalize the areas between Broad and Leigh Streets, as well as 5th and 10th Streets with new home and business developments. A new hotel, a new high school and a new Town Hall tower are all possibilities.

“New buildings that represent the importance of the city center. It’s the hill, so if you build a building at the top, it will have a certain height and you can see it from the freeway and you can say, “There’s Richmond,” Mercado Pechin said.

He calls for getting rid of the Richmond Coliseum.

“Tear down all these buildings, well, you have the cost of rebuilding them in a city that’s strapped for finances,” Lawrence added.

“What are the opportunities like for small businesses and minority businesses? What does it look like because I own a small business here in the city of Richmond? Said neighbor Sulaiman Forgus.

He says that by bringing new developments, don’t push others.

“I’m talking primarily about the Gilpin Court community,” Forgus said.

“A moment ago you were thinking about the houses that were east of here… VCU took it all. It was all once African American homes and communities, the same thing happened to Navy Hill, the same thing happened to Jackson Ward, the same thing happened to Randolph, where my family is from, “said the neighbor Emmett Jafari to the city representative. .

City Councilor Ellen Robertson has said not to view the current plan as a done deal. She wants to hear from residents because it might be a work in progress to get it right. She even says she has changes that she would like to see on the path to revitalization.

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