Richmond looking for consultant for Shockoe Bottom plans

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

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Now that baseball struck out, what is in the future for Shockoe Bottom?

The city hopes to answer that question with a $125,000 endeavour. That's on top of a previous study of the same thing.

Before the baseball pitch floundered, Mayor Dwight Jones put up $100,000 to study the idea. Now the city council is dishing out $125,000 to start over and find a new project for the Bottom.

Rachel DePompa: "You've seen a lot of money spent?"
David Napier: "I've watched it go by yes. And nothing's every really gotten done except studying."

David Napier owns the Old City Bar. He says he's glad the city wants to invest in the Bottom, he just waiting for more than a study to come down from the top.

"Oh, it's a waste land up there. If you can't do anything else but put a parking deck there, I mean do something with it. Something has to be done," Napier said.

But a parking deck is definitely seen as a big need.

"We know how to get the people down here at this point it's about where are they going to park. Where are they going to park their car and move into the area," said Nick Bates, Halligan's Bar Manager.

The city will hire a consultant to create an economic strategy for the empty parking lot, taking into consideration what can be built in a flood plain, a possible slavery museum and the use of Main Street Station and high speed rail. Everyone in the area seems to have an idea.

"You look down this row and you see so many for sale and closed doors that. I think we should be spending some money and investing into potential companies that could be opening up and brining life to this strip right here," said Richmond resident Sara Pomeroy.

Council Vice President Ellen Robertson believes this new study is groundbreaking because it attempts to create a market tested plan. She believes the study will lead to concrete ideas for the Bottom.

"Other cities have done beautiful things and have been the turning point for economic success in their cities. We can do the same thing in Richmond," Robertson said.

The city expects to hire the consultants in October and have the report submitted in early 2010.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.