City looking to develop 2nd and Marshall property

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond has set its sights on a valuable piece of property in Jackson Ward. Hoping to spur new growth in the old entertainment district.

The area at 2nd and Marshall streets is just a parking lot but the Richmond Economic Development Authority believes it could be much more.

Unless the Greater Richmond Convention Center has an event, this Jackson Ward parking lot is usually empty.

The Economic Development Authority says it's a waste of space for a prime piece of real estate.

The chair of Richmond economic development authority, Rich Johnson says "this is a dynamic site downtown. It really is one of the gateway sites and  it's a large tract we see a lot of potential for."

The EDA bought the land in 1992 for $365,000. It's now worth a $1 million.

The authority commissioned a study led by local developers to help decide what should go here. Dave Johannas served on the panel.

"2nd is a really important street because it was formerly a very high profile entertainment business district years ago. And it would be nice to see that recreated," said Johannas of the Johannas Design Group.

The panel recommends a four- to five-story building with commercial retail on the bottom and a hotel or condos on top.

An idea Tracy Hart hopes could help her fledging restaurant, Leones.

"I think that would be good for the area, it would bring business to our restaurants as well as the other restaurants in the area," Hart said.

"Any time we start infusing people in the district it's going to help because we need people downtown. We need to provide environments for them to live in," Johannas said.

Since announcing the project, several developers have expressed interest and have stopped by to visit the site. The EDA is looking to lease the land, but may also sell it.

"With the economy the state that it's in both locally and nationally and globally to have that much interest in this site here in downtown Richmond I think speaks very well," Johnson said.

The EDA is accepting proposals for this site from developers through the end of the month. It is hoping that something could be built here within two years.

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