Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Venture Richmond and the City of Richmond Announce A Botanical Makeover of the RVA Arts District


Venture Richmond has been working in partnership with Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, City departments and local businesses to develop a plan to beautify the RVA Arts District by enhancing existing landscaped areas and adding planters to the concrete medians on Broad Street.  “This project supports our vision for a clean, safe, and beautiful Downtown,” said Jacqueline McClenney-Wallace, Chair of Venture Richmond, “and it supports the Mayor’s efforts to further develop the Arts and Culture District.”  
“The RVA Arts District Beautification Plan is literally a “botanical makeover” of the Broad Street gateway and the 400 block of E. Grace Street.” said Lucy Meade who is leading the project for Venture Richmond. “The planting designs are stunning and were created by Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, our lead design consultant on the project. The project includes a total of 13 blocks, 49 planters, 526 bags of mulch, 460+ bags of soil, and 1,200+ plants. Locally-owned Colesville Nursery is our source for all of the plants and they have been wonderful partners helping us find the right size plants for the installation.”  
Venture Richmond is funding the transformation and maintenance of 13 blocks.  The scope of the project includes the following:
Broad Street:
Block 1: enhancing the existing median on W. Broad St. from Belvidere to Henry Streets by adding mulch and 130 perennials that will provide seasonal interest.
Blocks 2-5:  adding 28 (3’ x 3’ x 3’) planters to the concrete medians on W. Broad St. from Henry St. to Adams Sts. The planters provide seasonal interest and will be filled with shrubs (thrillers), perennials (fillers) and a few annuals (spillers).  A total of 218 plants will be planted.
Blocks 6-8: enhancing the existing narrow raised medians on Broad St. from Adams St. to 2nd St., also known as the “Mohawks,” by adding 276 perennials that offer seasonal interest.
Blocks 9-11: adding 21 (3’ x 3’ x 3’) planters to the concrete medians on E. Broad St. from 8th  St. to 11th St. The planters provide seasonal interest and will be filled with shrubs (thrillers), perennials (fillers) and a few annuals (spillers).  A total of 135 plants will be planted.
Grace Street:
Block 12: enhancing the 13 raised tree wells in the 400 Block of E Grace St. by removing the existing ivy and azaleas and replacing them with 100 shrubs, perennials and mulch.
Broad St. Parking lot (4th – 5th Street):
Block 13: enhancing the existing CDA parking lot landscaping by filling in with 400 shrubs and perennials.
Venture Richmond will be adding seven 3’ x 3’ x 3’ planters on each concrete median in Blocks 2-5 and 9-11; a total of 7 blocks.  The planters are a matte black with clean modern lines. The planters will not be permanently affixed to the medians; they will be placed on four 1” high blocks, which will raise the planters up enough that a fork lift can move them if needed.  
“This project says “you are valued” to those who live and work in Richmond,” says Frank Robinson, President and CEO of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. “It’s a lesson we learned this past January when the Garden brought noted New York City urban design consultant Lynden Miller to town – civic pride increases when public green spaces are transformed. Grace Chapman and Leah Purdy from the Garden’s team have created a planting plan embodying the Garden’s passion: connecting people and plants to improve our community.”
The development and approval of this plan involved collaborating with multiple City departments (DPR, DPW, DPU, etc.) and Venture Richmond followed standard City policies for permitting. Venture Richmond is also working in partnership with the City Arborist to prune the trees in the beautification areas.  The Richmond Tree Stewards will be pruning Crape Myrtles in the W. Broad St. median between Belvidere and Henry Streets and Venture Richmond has hired Arborscapes to prune the tree in the 400 block of East Grace and the Lone Oak at Broad and Adams Streets.
“The RVA Beautification Project brings together Capital One, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Venture Richmond and the City to give Broad Street a much needed beauty treatment” said Jack Berry, executive director of Venture Richmond. “Capital One will provide several hundred volunteers, who will do all of the planting and installation work for us in two days on October 21st and 23rd.” 
“The hundreds of Capital One volunteers supporting this effort are excited to join Venture Richmond and the City to help beautify the Broad Street downtown corridor,” said Steve Gannon, Executive Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Capital One. “As the region’s largest private employer, we’re proud to invest in both the future of our community and the local businesses who line the corridor. Not only will The Venture Richmond Beautification Project help attract increased foot traffic for local businesses, but it will provide jobs for local residents in need through The Kleane Kare Team.
“The Broad Street downtown corridor is the arts and cultural hub of Richmond and this botanical makeover is a welcomed enhancement to this very important corridor,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones.  “I’m so thankful to those that have worked in partnership to beautify this area and am especially grateful to Venture Richmond for their leadership, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden for their expertise and to Capital One for the hundreds of volunteers committed to this project. This type of collaborative effort is precisely how we will build a better Richmond.” 
“The installation will literally transform the corridor within a few hours and benefit residents, businesses and visitors 365 days a year,” said Mayor Jones. “A critically important part of the project is the ongoing maintenance and Venture Richmond has made a commitment to maintain the landscaping at a high, ‘botanical garden’ standard.”
Venture Richmond has hired The Kleane Kare Team, Inc., who is partnering with Snead Associates, P. C., both minority-owned companies, to provide ongoing maintenance and watering, as well as to be responsible for replacing any damaged plants and/or planters. Venture Richmond will reserve funding for replacement plants and keep some extra planters in reserve in case any are damaged.  
“The Venture Richmond Beautification Project aligns perfectly with my continued commitment to the enhancement of our environment” said Sharon Dabney-Wooldridge, CEO, The Kleane Kare Team, Inc.
“We are very excited about our partnership with Kleane Kare and their partnership with CARITAS and The Healing Place” said Mr. Berry. “They will hire people in the Recovery Program, who have been homeless due to their addictions, and who are working part-time as part of their reintroduction into the workforce.”  Kleane Kare’s experience with these employees is excellent.  This contract will provide an opportunity to train them in another set of skills, landscape maintenance.  
“This is a major new initiative for Venture Richmond that will change the face of Broad St. and hopefully be a catalyst for additional “botanical makeovers” on W. Broad St. and the interstate gateways”, says Ms. Meade.  Venture Richmond is investing over $100,000 in the beautification of the Arts District, which has been dramatically leveraged by the numerous partnerships and the willingness of the suppliers to sell us the products at wholesale prices.  Venture Richmond is funding the project and the ongoing maintenance with Downtown Assessment District funding.