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East End News

Community Meeting set to discuss alternative Shockoe plan

A meeting has been announced for mid-August on an alternative plan for the development of Shockoe Bottom. From the press release:

A Community Meeting to consider an Alternative Proposal for Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom is scheduled for 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15, at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, 1720 Mechanicsville Turnpike in Richmond’s East End. The meeting is being hosted by the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project of the Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality. If the Alternative Proposal is ratified at the Aug. 15 community meeting, it will be shared with Mayor Dwight Jones and members of Richmond City Council and then formally introduced to council at its next scheduled meeting, on Sept. 14. In the decades before the Civil War, Shockoe Bottom was the hub of the U.S. domestic slave trade. It is estimated that the majority of Black people in the country today could trace some ancestry to this area. The main feature of the Alternative Proposal is the creation of a Memorial Park to examine and commemorate Richmond’s central role in this trade. The park would include the present sites of the African Burial Ground and Lumpkin’s Jail, as well as several blocks east of the CSX railroad tracks, where slave jails, slave-trader offices and supporting service businesses were located. The proposal does not call for the displacement of any existing buildings and would not preclude economic development in the rest of Shockoe Bottom, compatible with the historic nature of the district. The Alternative Proposal is being developed through a community-based process with assistance from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the country’s leading preservation organization. More than 100 people attended four Community Brainstorming Sessions held in March to gather suggestions for what should be done with Shockoe Bottom. The National Trust then consolidated those suggestions into a three-page summary, which provided the basis for the proposal, now being developed by a working group drawn from community members who attended the brainstorming sessions. The proposal will be vetted by professionals from the fields of tourism development, economics, preservation and zoning before it is finalized for presentation to the Aug. 15 meeting. All are welcome and encouraged to attend the Aug. 15 meeting. Primary consideration will be given to views raised by members of the Black community. For more information, contact the Defenders at (804) 644-5834 or DefendersFJE@hotmail.com.

TOP: an earlier iteration of an alternative plan from 2013

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57 comments

Bill 3 07/27/2015 at 7:55 AM

“Primary consideration will be given to views raised by members of the Black community.”

Well then…

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Eric S. Huffstutler 07/27/2015 at 8:46 AM

Can’t tell from this proposal but is there a high-rise hotel and a mega grocery-shopping area that was going to happen with the stadium, that will help draw tourist dollars to this area in conjunction to the attractions?

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Jujubee 07/27/2015 at 9:36 AM

“primary consideration will be given to views raised by members of the Black community”. Am I reading this correctly?

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BAF 07/27/2015 at 10:24 AM

“The proposal does not call for the displacement of any existing buildings and would not preclude economic development in the rest of Shockoe Bottom”

Unless I misunderstand their map, it seems to me that just a quick glance at that map shows the displacement of the McDonald’s, the JenCare medical office and the warehouse immediately behind JenCare on the same block, among other structures. Interestingly, it preserves the Exxon station, which most other plans for the area bulldoze. I suppose if this comes to fruition it will make future protests for a $15/hour wage at that McDonald’s moot.

This whole thing strikes me as a fantasy. Do the property owners want to sell? I don’t think the City will be able to acquire this property by eminent domain for these purposes. And who is paying for all of this again? I hope it is not the City. We don’t have the money to fix our schools and roads. We cannot get the City to churn out a basic financial report required by state law. While I recognize the historic importance of many of these sites and agree that it would be beneficial if there were a way to better present them to the public, I think there are a lot of basic needs and priorities that remain unmet that need to be dealt with first before we take on a project if this nature.

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Jujubee 07/27/2015 at 10:43 AM

Not racist or inconsiderate of the people who live here at all.

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Progress 07/27/2015 at 11:13 AM

JenCare and McDonalds are on the map – they are partly cut off by the Legend box. No change proposed for that area

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Matt Conrad 07/27/2015 at 1:44 PM

What this group needs to do is hold a protracted series of community charrettes. That’s how you get things moving in the East End 😉

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Nick 07/27/2015 at 3:57 PM

It’s remarkable that Shockoe Bottom doesn’t have a significant memorial presence already. I hope the proposal is successful.

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BAF 07/27/2015 at 4:14 PM

@9 My error. The orientation of that map is is not what I thought. I thought the orange buildings were along East Broad Street. The map orientation is very confusing, especially since the image is very small.

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BAF 07/27/2015 at 4:15 PM

@8 Isn’t Shockoe Creek an outlet for the overflow of the combined sewer system? I would prefer we leave that well-covered, thank you.

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Kathleen Sanders 07/27/2015 at 8:28 PM

‘Primary consideration will be given to views raised by members of the Black community.’
Wow.

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crd 07/27/2015 at 8:34 PM

@13 BAF I don’ think it is, I think it’s a separate creek. Would be very interested in hearing from someone with more facts about it, though. I know what you’re saying about the combined sewer system, but for some reason I think the creek is separate. If it’s not, then…well, leave it covered.

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Eric S. Huffstutler 07/27/2015 at 9:06 PM

@jujube… I hear you. The problems at hand runs both ways.

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Alex 07/27/2015 at 10:58 PM

Just one person’s voice but I can’t imagine this plan creating any meaningful economic impact. It’s not going to draw in a fraction of the visitor a ballpark would and certainly isn’t something I can imagine people staying overnight at the hotel for.

The black views part is offensive if this is intending to use city money.

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Alex 07/27/2015 at 11:01 PM

@13 – Scott wants the creek open so he can steal water. He’s too cheap to pay for it and the city has yet to listen to his years of whining about high water bills. Now he’s hoping to find a way to pull directly from the source.

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Liz 07/28/2015 at 8:31 AM

Agreed about the “black views” comment. Can’t even imagine that uproar if it read “primary consideration will be given to white views.”

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Laura 07/28/2015 at 8:36 AM

This project, as proposed, looks like a complete waste of money and valuable land. The City of Richmond is in desperate need of REVENUE producing businesses to fund school improvements and other city infrastructure. This project won’t do that. We don’t need any more visitor centers and low impact development. There are enough of those around the city that looks like ghost towns the majority of the time. This area is in need of quality services like a large, full service grocery store and other amenities that serve the residents DAILY. The land is there; build something on it that will serve the residents AND produce revenue for the city. Why is another hotel in consideration when there are a host of hotels within blocks of this area that are at 60% capacity most of the time? Is this just short-sighted wishful thinking. Why does the city insist on making city residents leave the city limits to spend money (and enrich the county coffers) at QUALITY retail establishments?

Furthermore, this development won’t do anything to drive economic development of the Bottom as a whole. Don’t count of tons of tourists to come and see this…it’s a joke.

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Bill 3 07/28/2015 at 9:09 AM

Just a thought – if you are trying to build enthusiasm and support for a controversial effort, coming out & stating that the input of certain folks carries more weight than others, based on skin color nonetheless, might not be the best course of action. This does nothing but further divide people.

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Eric S. Huffstutler 07/28/2015 at 9:25 AM

Bill 3… agreed. There seems to be a “push”, for lack of a better word, towards making Richmond more “black” and this tips the scales at a time that the same community is in an uproar to sweep history under the rug. As I said, the black community is quick to try and obliterate any and every thing associated with the Confederacy and slavery while pushing for a Slave Museum and trail. Isn’t that a bit contradictory?

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Aud 07/28/2015 at 9:57 AM

I believe the “Black community” comment was directed at the descendant/cultural communities in Richmond who haven’t had a strong voice, historically, when it comes to Shockoe. After attending the VCU East Marshall St. Well talks, “Meet Me at the Bottom” film viewing at the VHS, walking tours, etc., I can’t really blame the group for emphasizing consideration for African-American views and voices. I took their comment to mean they will make it a primary focus to make sure the Black community is heard and considered, which will hopefully encourage more African-Americans to attend this community meeting. Just my thoughts.

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SB 07/28/2015 at 10:01 AM

At the bottom of the press release it states “Primary consideration will be given to views raised by members of the Black community.” Does this organization not believe that all people (Blacks, Whites, Africans, American Indians, Germans, Jews and etc.) living in the Richmond City including Church Hill/Shockhoe Bottom should have an equal voice and consideration for this plan? Also doesn’t this organization stand Freedom, Justice and Equality? What a shame to publish and continue to separate our city!!

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Gretta 07/28/2015 at 12:13 PM

A real grocery store!!! Urban Target or something like that, too. And a pet food store. I too hate spending my money out in the counties, and hate the drive, too.

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EHP 07/28/2015 at 12:42 PM

Eric S. Huffstutler: I don’t understand your last comment. Who exactly is in an “uproar” to “sweep history under the rug”? What do you mean, and what evidence do you have? And what do you mean by a “push” to “make Richmond more ‘black'”?

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Kathleen Sanders 07/28/2015 at 12:47 PM

Gretta – Cary Street is a short drive to the west of Church Hill and offers several grocery stores, pet food stores, drug stores, as well as many locally owned businesses. Would love to see a grocery store closer to CH but I want to point out that you don’t have to spend your $s in other counties or drive a long distance to do a lot of your shopping, IMO.

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nadine 07/28/2015 at 12:49 PM

I am very tired of this vocal minority controlling the direction of development of this area.

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Eric S. Huffstutler 07/28/2015 at 1:15 PM

How about a multi-cultural center and a hotel to accommodate tourists … like the one that was proposed and never materialized after the city raped and destroyed the block where Thalhimer’s was to make way for it 11-years ago!

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Eric S. Huffstutler 07/28/2015 at 1:17 PM

@Gretta… I remember only a couple of years back when Farm Fresh never had or rarely posted sales on items and was overpriced overall. They have gotten a lot better and often have good sales, though limited on item selection yet better than a corner store.

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Ziti 07/28/2015 at 1:18 PM

As much as it would be great to have a grocery store (or something more than gravel parking lots) in Shockoe Bottom, a lot of the area is in a 100-year flood plain.

Go to the interactive map here and you can see it:
https://msc.fema.gov/portal/search

You can’t build there without doing expensive work to mitigate flooding. I’m guessing “low impact” development might be able to dodge the FEMA restrictions, that’s why it’s being proposed.

Until someone figures out how to deal with the flooding issue, nothing much is going to get built down there.

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Eric S. Huffstutler 07/28/2015 at 1:25 PM

@nadine… if you mean a vocal minority being City Council and the Mayor, I agree. If you are saying that there are a lot of people who like to talk big and then do nothing, I also agree.

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Eric S. Huffstutler 07/28/2015 at 1:30 PM

@Ziti… remember, when the stadium was proposed, they already did a study about flooding and had a plan in place to fix the issue. There isn’t anything saying that still can’t be done?

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Brian Palmer 07/28/2015 at 1:59 PM

I’m reasonably new to RVA—we moved here last year—and very new to CHPN. I’m looking forward to participating in honest and open discussions about the alternate Shockoe Bottom proposal on its merits, on its potential to benefit a majority of Richmonders.

I understand the desire to privilege the voices of African Americans in this discussion—and not simply because I’m African American. After all, there is a history of denying black folk a voice in public matters at all in RVA. The power to participate in civic discourse—and in public decision making—is a relatively new thing for African Americans. Common knowledge. I ask our 50+year-old CHPN readers and Richmonders, What was Oliver Hill fighting against and for? And when? We cannot pretend that this city’s history starts with Dwight Jones or Doug Wilder, though it may tempt some people to do so because this tactic draws attention away from the privilege that portions of the white citizenry enjoyed for generations simply because of their parentage. Such privilege allotted resources in ways that endure.

This notion that pushback against Confederaphilia is some new “black” thing is absurd. People like John Mitchell Jr. fought the fetishization and public celebration of the Lost Cause as long as they had the legal power to do so. Certain influential white Virginians stripped away that power and black freedom of expression through legislation, intimidation, and violence. Generations of women and men like Hill fought to get back that power, held ever-so briefly during Reconstruction; they fought to secure their right to be at the civic table. And they fought—and are still fighting—the consequences of generations of exclusion from participation.

I don’t need to speak first, particularly if I’m among people who acknowledge Richmond’s history in its totality, not just the chunks that suit their argument.

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Ziti 07/28/2015 at 2:02 PM

@Eric

The plan, as far as I know, was to spend $23.4 million on flood mitigation, which is at least less than the $200 million(?) it would apparently take to build a tunnel that would drain the area effectively.

There’s some info here:

http://www.styleweekly.com/richmond/inside-baseball/Content?oid=2040740

http://www.styleweekly.com/richmond/ballpark-or-no-ballpark-shockoe-bottom-still-may-get-a-hotel/Content?oid=2021941

http://wtvr.com/2013/11/15/holmberg-baseball-field-is-also-about-a-floodplain-solution/

The 100-year flood plain is narrow — I guess a couple blocks wide and 5 or so long — and developers seem willing to build outside it (it’s not like there haven’t been new apartment buildings constructed in the area). But the flood plain itself just seems financially off limits, too expensive to develop. And the site being a slave cemetery adds another wrinkle.

Maybe there’s some solution to the flood plain issue I haven’t heard of, or maybe we’ll get a deluge and discover that the area (after the work done post-Gaston in 2004) drains better than everyone thought it would. Otherwise, apart from renovating existing structures, it seems we’re stuck with what we’ve got.

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Matt Conrad 07/28/2015 at 3:06 PM

Aud – thank you for stating what I had hoped to. You approached their in-artfully worded comments with the right perspective.

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Liz 07/28/2015 at 8:58 PM

@Aud – again I ask what would be the reaction if the statement read giving preference to white views. We can’t expect to have racial peace if this mindset continues.

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Scott 07/28/2015 at 11:57 PM

As far as daylighting historic Shockoe Creek goes, other cities are doing this and reaping great benefits. It can help with water treatment and flood mitigation.

http://www.americanrivers.org/newsroom/resources/daylighting-streams-breathing-life-into-urban-streams-and-communities/

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Aud 07/29/2015 at 7:31 AM

@Matt Conrad – thank you!

@Liz – I don’t understand your question. *Historically* speaking, wouldn’t it be redundant to state White views will be given preference? The comment to primarily consider views from the Black community is to ensure the Black community will be heard and in attendance. This statement of inclusivity is absolutely essential to the city’s long healing process. As to why this is vital, Brian Palmer’s post above articulates the issue perfectly (well done, sir!).

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Bill 3 07/29/2015 at 8:04 AM

Aud – not speaking historically, but here today. What if someone posted something similar to the above & switched out “black community” for “white community”? Would that still be redundant, or would there be a massive uproar?

Because our ancestors’ ancestors were pricks, we now have to give primary consideration to a certain faction of the population to “make up for it”? For how long? We need to stop living in the past as much as we need to stop trying to sweep it under the rug. Learn from mistakes, don’t repeat them. Equal consideration should be given to all, regardless of skin color or any other qualifier.

Maybe the comment was made with the best of intentions, as you outline (and I think you’re being generous in your interpretation), but at the end of the day it seems to be building a number of opponents simply by alienating a number of folks (see above).

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Gretta 07/29/2015 at 9:24 AM

@ 28 – Kathleen, I go to Carytown for the boutiques (I’ve lived in Richmond a long time), and often to the Kroger and PetCo, so you’re right about the money staying in the city sometimes, but it’s often easier to go the grocery store when you’re out in the counties doing other shopping. I still think Carytown is too far to drive for a good grocery store, it seems like a long 15 minutes trek, and the same drive gets boring after awhile. I still want a good grocery store/pet food store within a 2 minute drive/10 minute walk!

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Aud 07/29/2015 at 9:48 AM

Bill, I see your point. However, when I hear the words “equal consideration” today, I feel people believe we’re now going forward on a fresh, clean slate of racial equality. We’re not. The Emancipation Proclamation didn’t stop legal segregation and systemic racism from thriving in the U.S., in varying degrees, well into the 20th and 21st centuries.

I deem their comment a direct gesture to invite communities that were not consulted or given consideration in the past; and, by doing this, it shows we (as a city) are learning from past mistakes. But, I can see how one might interpret their comment in other ways too.

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Liz 07/29/2015 at 12:22 PM

Aud, I was asking precisely what Bill just stated -which he did very nicely.

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BridgAllen 07/29/2015 at 11:24 PM

I attend the community meetings regularly. My input is always welcome, and I’m a white guy. The memorialization of the slave trading district ought to be led by the descendants of the people who were sold there. Why shouldn’t blacks have a voice in their history after 400 years?

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With stadium off the table, Mayor Jones pushing to memorialize Lumpkin’s Jail | Church Hil People's News 08/13/2015 at 3:42 PM

[…] Edwards and Phil Wilayto, opponents of the Mayor’s earlier proposals for the area, are hosting a community meeting this coming Saturday towards ratification of community-developed “Alternative Plan” for Shockoe […]

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