Land values tripled in ten years on Richmond's Canal Walk

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond's multi-million dollar Canal Walk project is 10 years old and the city is calling it a success tonight, touting more than 390 million dollars in private investments in the last decade. But what do the businesses along the walk think?

A lot of people want to see this area turned into a river walk like in San Antonio, Texas. The foot print is here, but most everyone we spoke with today, agrees, this area just needs a little more time.

You might say Rusty Gross has the best view of Richmond's Canal Walk. As captain of a canal cruise boat he gives dozens of tours a week.

"It's very pleasing to see the effects that are starting here. Germinating. And I hope to be around to see the end results," said Gross.

His boat tours are now setting records. He sees nothing but opportunity on the horizon.

"It takes a little bit of tweaking here and there. But definitely yes. It is an improvement and it's getting better all the time," Gross said.

The city says the land values on the canal's 32 acres have tripled in the last decade. Going from 242 million in 1998 to 757 million in 2009.

MeadWestVaco is almost open. Dominion built an energy clearing house. There are 290 new condos and 1,800 parking spots. But there have also been some key struggles. Toad's Place of Richmond filed for bankruptcy and there's fewer shopping options than most would like.

The owner of the Southern Railway Deli says his first two years in business were booming, but the economy is now taking a toll. He believes the Canal Walk is a success, but has a long way to go.

"It's very conservative city and very conservative population takes baby steps so 10 years this place should have been booming. It might take 10 maybe more to get it where it's got to be," said Steve Kouvaras, Southern Railway Deli owner.

"What people don't understand is urban revitalization doesn't happen in 36 months like at short pump town center, where you cut the ribbon and 80 percent leased and open. It happens over time," said Lucy Meade of Venture Richmond.

The city says the growth here is not done yet. City leaders will meet with developers interested in Reynold's plant in Manchester next week. And Foundary Park under MeadWestVaco has more room to grow.

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