People near Carytown fighting big box retailers

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It won't be a Walmart, but people who live near a proposed retail center near Carytown fear that could change. A Maryland developer wants to turn the Verizon building on North Nansemond Avenue into a shopping center, but still needs city council approval.

If you drive around the Carytown area, people have made it very clear they don't want a big box retailer moving in. There's even a campaign against it. 

The developer has a campaign too. It's passing out flyers about what's now being called Carytown Place.

Mixed in with Halloween decorations, signs that stand against an idea that makes some cringe.

"I don't want to see Carytown diminished," said Scott Dickens.

Dickens lives in the Museum District. He's also helping the group "Don't Big Box Carytown" spread its message on Twitter. A message that Dickens says some may have misunderstood when Walmart came up as an example as a possible tenant at 10 N. Nansemond, but Dickens says people should consider worst case scenarios. 

"Once the special use permit goes through and opens that area up for retail for big box retail, if Whole Foods goes in and doesn't do well they'll decide to close that branch and then it becomes a Walmart," said Dickens.

A spokesman for the Maryland Developer says Walmart is not in consideration. But the developer has talked with seven potential retailers. None of which want to commit until zoning is approved.

"It sounds like this developer wants to put something bigger and more suburban than what we'd want to see around here," said Trey Brown.

Brown works from his home right across from Carytown Place. His other concern is traffic.

"It's almost daily that I hear any sort of accident," said Brown.

Dickens isn't against development, but says it should be controlled and beneficial to Carytown.

"Either a residential community, a mixed use community, even a small volume boutique hotel would be awesome," said Dickens.

The developer already passed out flyers about the project to Carytown merchants. They'll walk through the neighborhood in the next few days to hand them out to people who live here. Meantime, that special use permit is still under review by the city.

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