Public forum discusses Manchester's revitalization

By Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (NBC12) - Revitalization of the Manchester area on the city's southside is a delicate balancing act.

Most residents, business owners and city officials can agree on this: they want to protect the neighborhood's history, while at the same time make sure it will have a thriving future.

"It's a really unusual amalgamation of an old industrial area now turning residential and retail," said Richmond Community Development Director Rachel Flynn.

Flynn told a crowd of about 100 people Saturday, so much has happened, but so much more can be accomplished.

And while city planners shared their expertise on what has worked and what could work, they're taking suggestions from the people who actually live and work in the area.

"Whats happening in Richmond is amazing," said Manchester resident Nishawn Beckels. "It's something to be proud of and it's something to be engaged with."

There's a lot to consider, transportation, parking, land use, environmental factors and the past.

"That's the whole point," said Beckels. "Richmond is a historic city anyway so we need to preserve whatever we have left."

Flynn says Hull Street is the spine that links the neighborhood and walking up and down that road you'll find pockets of revitalization representing yesterday, today and, most importantly, tomorrow.

"Tou see little spots, sparks of new life coming back," she said. "That's always how it happens. You gotta start somewhere. You plant a seed and pretty soon it starts to grow. Inch by inch that garden starts to bring back new life."

City planners say Saturday's kickoff meeting is just the first step in the process.

The area has tremendous potential and it's only a matter of time before it becomes a revitalized neighborhood like Church Hill or Jackson Ward.

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