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Baseball debate heats up again

February 2, 2009 5:48 pm by

The debate over the Shockoe Center proposal has flared up this week with dueling statements of support and opposition. On one side of the issue, ACORN released a statement saying that the development “is not an appropriate project for the City of Richmond’s most historic and hallowed ground”. Working in favor of the project are both the Shockoe Bottom Neighborhood Association and the online group I Support Baseball In Shockoe Bottom.

Organizers of the Facebook group I Support Baseball In Shockoe Bottom have organized “Shockoe Center Community Support Meetings” for February 10th and 11th:

In order to get everyone up to speed and to help answer the question “what can I do to help?” we have scheduled two Shockoe Center “CSM’s” or “Community Support Meetings.” These will be informal but informative meetings where you can get more information, meet more of the people who really want this to happen, and find out how you can make a contribution to the cause.

Tuesday, February 10, 5:30pm and Wednesday, February 11, 5:30pm.

Both will be at GlobeHopper Coffehouse & Lounge, 2100 East Main Street in Shockoe Bottom. 804-523-8083,

ACORN’s full statement comments certain aspects of the proposal, but in the end comes out against the idea:

The A.C.O.R.N. board has looked long and hard at the pros and cons of the latest proposal for a ballpark– considering the claims made by developers and the many questions that have arisen.

We join the community in questioning the following aspects of the Highwoods Properties’ plans for Shockoe Center:

If the bond projections fall short, will the city and state taxpayers end up saddled with the debt?

What are Highwoods Properties’ archaeological plans for the inevitable discovery of Richmond’s buried history?

Does this project truly meet all the challenges of frequent flooding in the Shockoe Valley?

How does this project improve intermodal transportation, and, in particular, affect federal funding secured for use at Main Street Station?

What is Highwoods Properties’ succession plan for Shockoe Center? Has thought been given to making the stadium entity serve multiple purposes?

Is not the overall Shockoe Center concept– including the baseball stadium– more compatible with the scale, massing and overall urban form of Boulevard Gateway, Highwoods Properties’ other City project, on the Boulevard near the Diamond?

How does Highwoods Properties propose to respond to, and prevent, if possible, the adverse impacts of Shockoe Center on the surrounding neighborhoods, including light, noise and traffic?

A.C.O.R.N. applauds Highwoods Properties for the following components in the Shockoe Center plans, including a number of elements recommended in the Downtown Master Plan:

The creation of a non-profit foundation to fund the ongoing discovery, preservation and interpretation of the historic and cultural resources located in and around Shockoe Bottom, including, among others, the Richmond Slave Trail, Lumpkin’s Jail and the African Burial Ground.

The expansion of the City of Richmond’s Old and Historic District in Shockoe Bottom to encompass a greater area.

The limited demolition of historic structures in Shockoe Bottom and the planned preservation of other historic structures, such as the Seaboard Building and the last remaining depot.

The promotion of two-way streets in Shockoe Bottom to facilitate access.

The construction of compatible urban infill on vacant lots in Shockoe Bottom, especially along East Broad Street.

The introduction of neighborhood-oriented uses and services, including a grocery store and gas station.

The restoration of the train shed adjacent to historic Main Street Station.

The re-opening of East Franklin Street as a pedestrian way between North 15th Street and Ambler Street, partially re-establishing a portion of the historic street grid.

The installation and maintenance of streetscapes along the project’s perimeter.

The provision of support services, such as recycling, for Shockoe Bottom businesses and residents.

The expansion of the 17th Street Farmers Market.

The invitation to A.C.O.R.N. to take an active and meaningful role in directing and supervising the development and implementation of the Shockoe Center project as it moves forward.

Although Highwoods Properties’ proposal is a vast improvement over similar plans presented several years ago, A.C.O.R.N. believes that Shockoe Center, as presented, is not an appropriate project for the City of Richmond’s most historic and hallowed ground.

We look forward to continued civic discourse on this and other projects, and to working with the city in shaping appropriate development in Richmond’s old neighborhoods.


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