RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Richmond is about to make it easier to redevelopment historic Manchester. Dwight Jones' administration is proposing the rezoning of more than 700 properties in the old industrial and manufacturing district.
According to the city planning office, Manchester is currently one of the fastest growing areas in the city. The new courthouse is open and the Hull Street corridor is constantly under renovation. City leaders say Manchester is the city's last great frontier.
"This is a neighborhood that's changing. This is a neighborhood that's diverse in terms of the range of land uses there and that's something that is attracting people," said Brooke Hardin, Deputy Director of Planning for the city.
Applications for building permits are on the rise in Manchester. Now the city hopes to make the process easier and cheaper for developers. Planners want to rezone 700 properties allowing for the industrial uses currently in place, but also opening up abandoned properties and factories to futures as homes, offices, condos and restaurants.
"We want to see increases in population downtown and this is really an area where we could have a significant boost," said Hardin.
Developer Robin Miller has been "rehabbing" homes and restoring old factories in Manchester for the last five years.
"It really is the last big chunk of ground in the downtown Richmond area that's available for development," said Miller.
He says the massive rezoning proposed by the city could go a long way in manufacturing a new Manchester.
"A lot has happened in the last five years and in the next five years I think you are going to see an explosion of growth over here," Miller said.
The rezoning ordinance is the result of several months of meetings last summer with the Manchester community. It could go to the City Council for a vote next month. And, Manchester's not the only place on the city's radar. New ordinances could be on the way to spur growth along East Broad Street in the Shockoe Valley and Monroe Ward.