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Newbille tells packed house that she will not vote for Pear Street

It was a packed house Thursday night at the Family Resource Center as a diverse group of citizens came to voice their concerns about the Pear Street project up for vote at City Council on Monday.

Several people gave formal remarks including Leighton Powell, Executive Director of Scenic VA foundation. Bill Jenkins, a 23-year-resident of Church Hill, gave his opinion that the special use permit applied for at the Pear Street parcel cannot be approved from a legal perspective.

Several other long time residents spoke against the Pear Street Development as it currently stands. All argued that the building clearly violates the downtown Master Plan and Riverfront Plan which state that buildings next to the James River should be no more than 5 stories tall.

Head of city Planning Mark Olinger said that the parcel for Pear Street appears on some maps of the Master Plan and not on other maps so it is unclear whether or not it falls under auspices of the Downtown Master Plan. Several people then asked if a 15 story building is in the spirit of the Downtown Master Plan and Riverfront plan.

Councilwoman Cynthia Newbille then briefly shared that she has heard “divergent responses” about Pear Street and did not clearly state her position for or against Pear Street.

Questioning became more pointed and Ms.Newbille fielded a volley of queries from the audience . Several people voiced that approving this development would set an uncomfortable precedent for more high rises.

The general tone was of approval for development along the river, but devlopment that stays within 5 stories.

By the end of the meeting Newbille agreed to tell the developer that her constituents have stated that the plan as it currently stands is too tall. Most people supported the idea to vote “no” on the current plan and ask the developer to come back with another plan that is lower.

Newbille communicated at the meeting that she will not vote for the project at its current height. It was unclear if Newbille plans to vote “no” or simply delay the vote again.

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Melissa Pocock
Melissa Pocock
6 years ago

A bit frustrating, but very informative meeting. Is it odd we didn’t hear from additional, current city council members (who were present at the meeting)? Audience members who approve the developer’s plans were completely mum.

Caitlin Roberts
Caitlin Roberts
6 years ago

Caitlin Roberts liked this on Facebook.

Melissa Pocock
Melissa Pocock
6 years ago

Melissa Pocock liked this on Facebook.

Juliellen Sarver
Juliellen Sarver
6 years ago

Juliellen Sarver liked this on Facebook.

Laura Llyn Lumpkin-Tate
Laura Llyn Lumpkin-Tate
6 years ago

Laura Llyn Lumpkin-Tate liked this on Facebook.

Jenee Johnson
Jenee Johnson
6 years ago

Jenee Johnson liked this on Facebook.

Melissa Ansley Brooks
Melissa Ansley Brooks
6 years ago

Melissa Ansley Brooks liked this on Facebook.

jean mcdaniel
jean mcdaniel
6 years ago

I know that I was not the only one who was shocked to learn that, and I quote Ma. Newbille, “when you have a city that is landlocked, you have to go up”!

That was the first time I had ever heard that the City of richmond was “landlocked”. Sounds like developer speak to me.

Scott Burger
Scott Burger
6 years ago

Scott Burger liked this on Facebook.

Brandi Watkins
Brandi Watkins
6 years ago

Brandi Watkins liked this on Facebook.

Emily Klinedinst
Emily Klinedinst
6 years ago

Emily Klinedinst liked this on Facebook.

Ashton Toler
Ashton Toler
6 years ago

Ashton Toler liked this on Facebook.

Amy Lindell Holler
Amy Lindell Holler
6 years ago

Amy Lindell Holler liked this on Facebook.

Michela Worthington-Adams
Michela Worthington-Adams
6 years ago

Now the question is, do we believe her.

Robert Batchelor
Robert Batchelor
6 years ago

Robert Batchelor liked this on Facebook.

Thomas Vick
Thomas Vick
6 years ago

Thomas Vick liked this on Facebook.

ask around
ask around
6 years ago

when you talk to other developers, real estate agents, planners (not necessarily City planners though I’m sure some would agree), many will say that space for new development on unimproved land is dwindling, aka that Richmond is landlocked.

Heather Dinkin
Heather Dinkin
6 years ago

Heather Dinkin liked this on Facebook.

Jean M. Wight
Jean M. Wight
6 years ago

Was I the only one at the meeting that felt like we were being patronized? Would it not have been a more meaningful conversation if our Councilperson Newbille would have been more open and willing to share her own concerns about the application, rather than continually saying that she “hears” our concerns?

What we got was a wooden “Teflon” front, and that just might be her personality (?), but it does not instill confidence with voters in her District nor City-wide in her political leadership potential.

To rephrase Michela’s question, “Does Newbille believe in us?”

Heather Boylan Drew
Heather Boylan Drew
6 years ago

She had better vote. By having no vote, she has no voice for “We the people. We the voters.”

Alli Alligood
Alli Alligood
6 years ago

I loved the meeting last night. Love that there were so many folks interested in this issue who care deeply about the integrity of the historic fabric as well as the integrity and intention of our community planning process, and of course our beloved James River and view form Libby Hill Park. Our representative on council gave us her word, and I for one am gladly accepting it. Thanks to Dr. Newbille and all involved in this frank discussion.

Next Friend
Next Friend
6 years ago

The councilperson is doing exactly what you asked her to do and you are still going to take swings at her? Keep on posting. Maybe the Why Not In My Back Yard people will get energized by the injustice.

crd
crd
6 years ago

#8, I suspect they are worried because of the last sentence – “It was unclear if Newbille plans to vote “no” or simply delay the vote again.” Clearly, most folks want her to vote “no” and not put it off yet again under the guise of “negotiating with the developers” who would then lop off a half story or something inane like that. Five stories, or no building at all, seems to be the prevailing opinion (and mine).

Kathleen Sanders
Kathleen Sanders
6 years ago

I completely agree with Heather. Newbille needs to vote and her vote, if she is representing her constituents, should be against this project.

Roy S Drake Jr
Roy S Drake Jr
6 years ago

Roy S Drake Jr liked this on Facebook.

Christina Newton
Christina Newton
6 years ago

Christina Newton liked this on Facebook.

Marty Johnson
Marty Johnson
6 years ago

Idiots!!!!! Wonderful Project for Richmond dashed by the No Crowd

Bill Hartsock
Bill Hartsock
6 years ago

Just got word that the SUP has been withdrawn by the developer.

jean mcdaniel
jean mcdaniel
6 years ago

How does starting a post with “idiots!!!!!” contribute to a meaningful conversation? What is “Wonderful” about this project? There are no accurate drawings of what it will look like so you can’t mean visually “wonderful”. Are you one of the ones who wants to live in one of the Penthouses along with Mr. White, Mr. Salamonskie, and others who have stated publicly that,” there is a ghetto of people in Church Hill making $50,000.00 and higher income needs to be brought in”? PLEASE express your opinion here in writing how this is a wonderful project. This is your chance and… Read more »

Aud
Aud
6 years ago

Mr. Johnson, were you at the meeting? Not one person spoke up about their support for the current developer’s plan at the meeting last night, even though supporters were present. You could have spoken your peace directly to Dr. Newbille and residents.

crd
crd
6 years ago

Times Dispatch has story –

http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/local/city-of-richmond/newbille-says-she-won-t-support-pear-street-condo-project/article_373184e7-6d9d-574a-a866-95a521c31a5c.html

Sounds like she did it. There is also a message from Jeff Cooper, an email, that it’s been pulled from the agenda for Monday’s meeting.

Trish
Trish
6 years ago

The CHA sent the word last night that the developer withdrew the SUP. Huzzah!

Stewart Schwartz
Stewart Schwartz
6 years ago

Re “Ask Around” comment that city is landlocked: The answer is it’s not even close. When you contrast Richmond to the vibrant streets of DC and other revitalized cities, Richmond still has potentially thousands of acres of land available for development and especially redevelopment. Abandoned lots, acres of parking lots, obsolete and non-historic one story commercial buildings, and even ancient parking structures in downtown, As we continue our revitalization these underutilized parcels are replaced by mixed-use, walkable urban development. The point of community-based planning is to create a vision for all parts of the city and to identify (with everyone… Read more »

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
6 years ago

Stewart,

I think when Newbille’s comment about being “landlocked” was more a reference to her district. There isn’t thousands of acres available for development in Church Hill, Shockoe, or Downtown and it is in this area they want to construct the high rise with a view.

And a reminder that the site they want to build on does not fall into any protected historical boundary so open for any kind of construction.

jean mcdaniel
jean mcdaniel
6 years ago

Stewart Schwartz @17

That is why Ms. Newbille received the response she got when she made the statement that the City was Landlocked. I suspect it was one of the lines proffered by Mr White and Co. during their lobbying of her.

Mr. Johnson @11 I am still waiting for you to explain to me why this project is “Wonderful”. You called us all idiots so I think you owe it to us to tell us why you feel that way.

Silver Persinger
Silver Persinger
6 years ago

Silver Persinger liked this on Facebook.

Pierce Mac Powell
Pierce Mac Powell
6 years ago

Pierce Mac Powell liked this on Facebook.

KatManDo
KatManDo
6 years ago

I would like to thank all of the individuals and organizations (e.g., Scenic Virginia, James River Associates and others) who got involved in this effort to protect the panoramic view from Libby Hill for all of us and for those yet to discover it.

Special thanks to Richmond City Council members who understood the importance of this issue and joined forces with us. And also, to Cynthia Newbille who, at last, understood..

180RVA
180RVA
6 years ago

To clarify #18 comments about the land
“being open to any kind of construction”
This is incorrect – it is zoned M1 – Light Industrial http://eservices.ci.richmond.va.us/applications/PropertySearch/Detail.aspx?pin=E0000534002
The by right development is closely restricted – examples allowed are hotels, retail sores, auto centers, day care etc.
The land was purchased with full knowledge of these restrictions

Tracy Citeroni
Tracy Citeroni
6 years ago

Tracy Citeroni liked this on Facebook.

crd
crd
6 years ago

@21, sorry can’t resist – “hotels, retail sores (sic), auto centers, day care, etc.” – this SUP was an eyesore! Had they put retail in it, too, it would have been a retail sore eyesore!

Thanks for your correction re M-1 as well as your involvement with this non-project. Here’s hoping it does not come back in the near future in any form except five stories or less.

silly question...
silly question...
6 years ago

Okay, I’ve been following the issue, but I just want to make sure I understand: per @Trish, the SUP has been withdrawn. Does this mean the issue is over? I tried doing some research but couldn’t find any info on the withdrawal.

crd
crd
6 years ago

@23 I don’t think it’s silly, and I think it means it has gone away for now. Whether they bring it back in a year or so, don’t know. I’ll let someone from 180RVA go into more detail if they have any.

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
6 years ago

180RVA – I may have been a bit open-ended I my comment about any kind of construction but what I was meaning is that any “style” and should not make a difference since it would not be controlled by historical regulations. I guess my question would be what would have been a realistic and fair for all parties concerned middle ground decision excluding height restrictions? The building “upward” is a reference to that you can’t spread out 15-stories of apartments into the same lot space if only restricted to 5. The lot would have to be triple in size. So… Read more »

Stewart Schwartz
Stewart Schwartz
6 years ago

Eric: The project is in a national historic district, Shockoe Valley and Tobacco Row, although not in a city Old and Historic District which would trigger the additional city reviews.

There are many examples of well-designed mid-rise buildings in Richmond and nearby DC which the developer can draw from in designing such a building for the site. 180RVA included recommendations in its submissions and I hope the developer will work new architects and with the community to create a great design.

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
6 years ago

Stewart, I believe this was approached before and there was a bit of a gray area with the maps that left me a bit fuzzy. I went back and checked. The CAR admits that the address in question on Pear Street does NOT fall into the Old & Historic districts that “the city” recognize but does fall into the Shockoe Valley-Tobacco Row Historic District handled by the Department of Interior and locally by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. But, CAR “the city” does NOT recognize these districts other than they do benefit from tax credits. So, that brings me… Read more »

Ayana Obika
Ayana Obika
6 years ago

Ayana Obika liked this on Facebook.

chpnfan
chpnfan
6 years ago

Eric, the City is still involved in governing. The land is currently zoned for industrial use. To build places for people to dwell on a parcel zoned industrial requires a special use permit, to change the use and… oh, he wanted to build a building 11 stories higher than what is allowed for that industrial parcel of land. That and all special use permits are submitted at City Hall and then it go to City Council to evaluate, approve or disapprove based on a multitude of factors. Being outside of the Old & Historic District I’d suppose, he could build… Read more »

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
6 years ago

Thanks chpnfan for the clarification! \

So if the developer has pulled his SU application then I guess the deal is dead anyway?

And I would have to object to a Pepto-Bismol pink building… It has to be green with purple polka dots! 🙂

chpnfan
chpnfan
6 years ago

Eric,

He’ll be back, I’m sure.

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