Monday, August 31, 2015

City Completes Several Downtown Major Transportation and Bridge Improvement Projects



Motorists can expect smoother traffic flow next week in the area of the 5th Street and the 7th Street bridges over Leigh Street.  The rehabilitated 5th Street Bridge will open Monday morning. The 7th Street Bridge re-opened in June.  Both bridges were closed earlier this year when the $3.6 million dollar refurbishment began.  The Leigh Street corridor between 5th and 7th streets, which closed during construction, also re-opens on Monday.

In Shockoe Bottom, the two-way traffic conversion of 17th Street between East Broad and Grace streets will open to traffic on Monday. The traffic pattern change is one of several improvements included in the $614,000 project funded by the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Improvement Program under the 2005 Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act. 
Other areas recently upgraded and now open to traffic include: 

17th Street, two-way traffic from Broad Street to Franklin Street
18th Street, two-way traffic from Grace Street to Broad Street
Franklin Street, two-way traffic from 17th Street to 19th Street
19th Street, two-way traffic from Grace Street to Main Street

The 19th Street two-way conversion also includes back-in angle parking to aid in increasing parking spaces in the area. Franklin Street between 18th and 19th streets has also been uncovered and restored to a cobblestone surface. 

The Shockoe Bottom improvements are plans that were included in the City Master Plan and recommended in the Shockoe Bottom Transportation Study

For  more information on city services and schedules, please visit us on line at www.RichmondGov.com


Friday, August 21, 2015

City and Partners to Receive AmeriCorps NCCC Team


~ Team to support UCI Road World Cycling Championships sustainability effort ~

The Southern Regional Office of AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) selected the City of Richmond and HandsOn Greater Richmond, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Groundwork RVA, and Virginia Green Travel Alliance to receive an AmeriCorps NCCC Team this Fall. The Southern Regional Office received 50 applications and awarded only 20 teams. NCCC is a full-time, team-based residential national service program for young adults who want to give back to communities in need at different locations across the country. There are currently more than 50,000 members serving in AmeriCorps NCCC.

“Being selected as a recipient of an AmeriCorps NCCC team recognizes the importance the City places on volunteerism as a way to engage young people in the work of City government and improving the community,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones.

The Richmond NCCC team will have five to nine members and work in Richmond from September 17 through November 11, 2015. The team will support the City’s RVAgreen sustainability initiative by serving as Green Team leaders for the 2015 UCI Road World Championships and the 2015 Richmond Folk Festival to enhance recycling, composting and other sustainable event practices. They will also complete several community-based urban greening projects including removal of invasive species, trail erosion diversion and building an outdoor living classroom. The team will be housed at Second Presbyterian Church and Pocahontas State Park.

“The City of Richmond and our partners collaborated to get an AmeriCorps NCCC team because we knew it would be a win-win scenario,” said Alicia Zatcoff, City of Richmond Sustainability Manager. “Our RVAgreen sustainability efforts will receive additional support and the NCCC team members will gain invaluable experience while making meaningful contributions to our community.”


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

City to Launch Public Art Master Planning Process



Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced today that the City’s Department of Planning and Development Review and the Public Art Commission will kick off the process to establish Richmond’s first ever Public Art Master Plan.

Richmond’s Public Art Master Plan will be developed with the input of the community, key stakeholders and other arts groups so that the plan will reflect Richmond’s vision for public art. The City will embark on a series of public meetings and focus groups as well as providing methods for the public to give input and feedback on the types of public art projects funded by the City. Currently all public art projects receive funding through a 1% allocation for art, earmarked from the City’s Capital Budget, of all new or renovation construction projects having budgets over $250,000. It is envisioned that the Master Plan will also identify ways to fund the preservation and long term maintenance of the current public art sites in Richmond.

“We want this roadmap to help ensure that our public art program is reflective of Richmond’s diverse communities,” said Mayor Jones. “This effort will help to refine policies and procedures that ensure equal opportunities for local and regional artists, as well as strengthen the collaborations between neighborhood groups, local arts agencies and City departments.”

The City has hired its first full-time public art coordinator in the Department of Planning and Development Review. While serving as public art coordinator, Ellyn Parker will also serve as secretary to the Public Art Commission. The City has also awarded a contract to Gail M. Goldman Associates in partnership with Gretchen Freeman & Co. , a nationally-recognized public art consultant team. They have extensive public art master planning and policy experience across the country. The consultant team will lead the effort to identify best practices for the Public Art Commission and create a custom-tailored public art master plan for Richmond that will help elevate the arts programs, stimulate tourism and economic opportunity, provide community collaborations, and showcase the unique character of Richmond’s already thriving art scene. 


“We are excited about this effort to establish a Master Plan for Public Art in Richmond,” said Mark Olinger, director of Planning and Development Review. “It is important to ensure that our resources are yielding the best results to support our thriving arts culture along with our tourism goals, and economic needs.”

The consultant team and the City are excited to announce the first kick-off meeting date of November 17, 2015, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Science Museum of Virginia. There will also be a series of smaller public focus groups conducted in October. Input, ideas and feedback can also be sent directly to the public art coordinator at Ellyn.Parker@Richmondgov.com.



More information on outreach efforts and public meetings will be posted on the City’s Public Art Commission webpage at www.richmondgov.com/CommissionPublicArt/index.aspx.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Special Cycle of the Arts and Cultural District Micro Grant Program



The City of Richmond and CultureWorks are pleased to announce a special cycle of the Arts and Cultural District Micro Grant Program. Arts and Cultural District Micro Grants provide funding assistance to district non-profits, small businesses and galleries located to reach visitors in the area during the 2015 UCI World Road Cycling Championships and major music and food festivals occurring between September 1 and November 1, 2015. Grants up to $1,000 are available to support arts related events, installations or programs in the Arts and Cultural District. Partnerships between entities located inside and outside the District are encouraged.

Previous recipients of an Arts and Cultural District Micro Grant are eligible and encouraged to apply for this special cycle. Applications will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis.  Awards will be based upon creativity in design and approach, coinciding with major events occurring in/near to the District during the grant period, and need.

The application and full list of requirements are available at www.richmondcultureworks.org/services or contact Caron Sterling at CultureWorks, caron@richmondcultureworks.org or (804) 340.5280, ext. 1.

The City of Richmond and CultureWorks continue to collaborate with businesses, galleries, non-profits and artists to foster a vibrant arts community that generates enjoyment and civic pride for residents, stimulates the local economy, and develops an appreciation for diverse cultures and art forms.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Slave Trail Improvements and Plans for Lumpkin's Jail



Mayor Jones, along with Delegate Delores McQuinn, Councilwoman Cynthia Newbille, Virginia Union University President Claude Perkins, Joy Bailey of LORD Cultural Resourcs, and Matt Laird of the James River Institute for Archaeology spoke on Thursday, August 13, 2015 about the importance of the Slave Trail improvements and the plans for Lumpkin's Jail moving forward. The following are Mayor Jones prepared remarks.

Good afternoon. I am so pleased to be here today to talk about the progress that has been made by the Slave Trail Commission. 

I especially want to thank Delegate Dolores McQuinn for her introduction. Her passion and labor for this commission’s work is why we are as far along as we are today.

I also want to thank Councilwoman Cynthia Newbille and Dr. Claude Perkins from Virginia Union University for being here. Additionally, I want to welcome Joy Bailey Bryant from LORD Cultural Resources and Matt Laird from the James River Institute for Archaeology. Thank you for joining us.

Since the Slave Trail Commission was established in 1998, it has been tasked with not only preserving the history of slavery in our city, but helping tell the story that has been overlooked for far too long. Because of the hard work of this group, the city has tangible memorials and increasing opportunities to tell a fuller picture of our history. 

Over ten years ago, the slave trail commission began branding and design work and began distributing brochures throughout the community and tourism centers. In 2006, there began an archaeological assessment of the Lumpkin’s Jail site in Shockoe Bottom and two years later, an archaeological excavation backfilled the site to protect it until it can be safely revealed. What is there today is a commemorative landscape and interpretation of the original site.

In 2009 through 2011, the commission conducted extensive community engagement and research to create the 21 historical markers that are presently along the trail.
Then in 2014, my administration secured $11 million from the Commonwealth of Virginia to begin to develop a heritage site at the site of Lumpkin’s Jail and the burial ground.  Working with Richmond City Council, the City has committed another $8 million to this project, for a total of $19 million – a level of financial support that his project has not had before. This funding has helped us with the latest in a long series of accomplishments, which is the installation of the 53 new path markers along the trail.

These markers are just the beginning of the improvements that this funding will allow us to move forward with. I want to thank the General Assembly for their commitment to making enhancements to the slave trail. 

Standing here, at the beginning of the Slave Trail at Ancarrow’s Landing, I also want to thank and acknowledge the Exxon Company for the improvements that we can see have been made at this site. Exxon has made this site safer, more accessible, and beautiful. When I take in the various improvements that have been made and the work that has been done, I just want to say that we must keep this momentum going. 
That is why I am announcing today that we will begin the process of making the first phase of the heritage site a reality.

The location of Lumpkin’s Jail, also known as the Devil’s Half Acre, was the holding site for slaves before they were taken to auction houses and sold. During Robert Lumpkin’s ownership, the site was known for being a particularly cruel place. Those who tried to escape were publicly beaten and tortured.  However, out of a site of unspeakable and detestable acts grew a place of higher learning with the founding of Virginia Union University. The site went from the Devil’s Half Acre to God’s Half Acre. I have always found solace that despite the abhorrent treatment that the slaves in our city had to endure, something beautiful and important has grown. 

In this year, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation and the founding of Virginia Union University, I can think of no better way to honor our heritage than to begin to build up the telling of our story, a fuller and more complete history of our city and our country.
However, we cannot do this in a vacuum. A complete history cannot be told only in an academic setting. We cannot build a world class pavilion without world class community participation.

I am excited to announce that we will be holding the first in a series of community engagement opportunities on September 10th at Martin Luther King Middle School. We will also be hosting a meeting at Huguenot High School on September 15. Our series is called Richmond Speaks, and will essentially be a citywide conversation about the Lumpkin’s Jail Site.

Joy Bailey Bryant, of Lord Cultural Resources has been engaged to lead this process.
Joy led the process during the first phase of the commission’s public engagement and I am so pleased that she will be leading this phase as well.

At this time, I’d like to bring her up to provide more information about our public engagement efforts.

Mayor Jones, Delegate Delores McQuinn, and the Richmond Slave Trail Commission invite all residents to participate in "Richmond Speaks: A Conversation on the Lumpkin's Jail Site".
Here is the flyer for "Richmond Speaks".


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Lehigh Cement Silos Demolition, Capital Trails Completion, Potterfield Bridge, all highlights of Riverfront Implementation Progress Report



Mayor Dwight C. Jones provided a progress report of the Richmond Riverfront Plan implementation. Citing several Phase 1 projects nearing completion, Jones spoke about the Richmond resurgence detailing progress made along the riverfront.


The Riverfront Plan was adopted in 2012 and the Jones Administration provided initial funding in the Fiscal Year 2013 Capital Improvements budget. Highlighted projects discussed during today’s press conference included the Lehigh Silos demolition, the Virginia Capital Trail, the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge, the Low-Line, and Terminal Dock improvements.


“Demolition of the Lehigh Cement property is an important milestone in the implementation of the Richmond Riverfront Plan,” said Mayor Jones. “Removal of these silos represents the beginning of the transformation of the downriver portion of the Riverfront.”


Jones noted significant progress, calling it an exciting time for the city. Along with removal of the silos, plans have been announced for Port of Richmond improvements, the Low-Line project with CSX and Capital Tress is underway, improvements are being made to the Intermediate Terminal structure, final plans have been approved and the work has begun on the Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge and the Richmond portion of the Virginia Capital Trail will be completed by the end of August.


Investment in the Richmond portion of the Virginia Capital Trail totals $4 million. The City has contributed $820,000 of that costs. The City also invested $200,000 in the Low-Line project, while CSX and Capital Trees are providing the rest of the funding. Terminal Dock investments over two years amounts to $2.9 million and the Lehigh Silos demolition is expected to cost $740,000. The City has approximately $10 million available for Phase 1 Riverfront projects, which includes the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge work.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Farmers' Market Makeover Begins


~ Sheds to be re-purposed for other uses ~

Demolition crews will begin removal today of the sheds at the 17th St. Market (Farmers’ Market) in the first phase of planned improvements to open up the space into an expanded public market. The work is part of the Shockoe Bottom Revitalization Strategy – a process which included public engagement and recommended removal of the existing sheds to position the space as an open urban square conducive to flexible programming.

The City’s Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD) has engaged Pryor Hauling, Inc., for the removal of the sheds. While fencing will be placed around the project site, no streets are scheduled for closure during the shed removals. Existing produce vendors at the 17th Street Market will be moved to the Main Street side of the market where they can continue to set up stands. Plans include salvaging and re-purposing the sheds, which will be coordinated by Enrichmond.


The Shockoe Bottom Revitalization Strategy was commissioned by the City of Richmond in 2010 to provide a strategic framework for revitalization actions. A charette (Public Workshop) was convened, as well as stakeholder interviews and a developer symposium in 2010/2011. Recommendations for the existing under-performing market included developing the space into a functioning urban square. A new public market ties in well to core identity themes for Shockoe of food, entertainment, entrepreneurship, and history. Plans include a combination of spaces that includes a permanent structure housing a year round public market of food, crafts and other items; outdoor or open areas serving as an expansion area for seasonal markets (farmers market, holiday market), programmed activities and events; and space for any administrative or small business development activities associated with the market.


As one of the oldest neighborhoods in Richmond, Shockoe has evolved from a river commerce center, to an industrial complex, to today’s reviving urban housing and entertainment district. Both the recent Downtown Plan and the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy build on this momentum, setting direction for future development in Shockoe. Current initiatives including the Slave Trail and Lumpkin's Jail Pavilion, enhanced rail service, improvements to the historic Main Street Station Multimodal Transportation/Travel and Welcome Center, and planning for increased arts and cultural attractions all outline the promise and potential of Shockoe for Richmond.


The initial work on the 17th Street Market is expected to take two to four weeks to complete. All the sheds, with the exception of the middle bay and the end bays on Franklin and Main Streets, will be removed. During the next phase, ECD will seek proposals to manage, operate and brand the 17th Street Market.