Debate heats up about plans for more shopping near Carytown

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Debate heats up on the controversial plan to bring more shopping near Carytown. The proposed development, called "Carytown Place", goes before the Richmond Planning Commission for a vote Monday. But, a change of heart by one neighborhood group has some disappointed.

Developers behind Carytown Place, which is a redevelopment of this old Verizon building, are gearing up for Monday's vote. Now, they have the Museum District Association on board with a revised proposal, which isn't sitting well with some who live and work here.

After expressing opposition last fall, the Museum District Association board has changed its tune. That's because Carytown place developers adjusted their plans.

"We worked with them, we listened, we made changes and that got us a favorable vote of support," said Kevin Nielsen, the local spokesman for the developer.

They've reduced the number of uses and are limiting floor space of any one tenant to no more than 25,000 square feet.

"That just ensures that we'll have multiple tenants and multiple users, which was always the intent anyway," said Nielsen.

One big sticking point for the Museum District Association board, according to one member, was the second proposed entrance from North Nansemond into the parking garage of Carytown Place but the developer eliminated that entrance satisfying the majority of board members.

"We're extremely disappointed. A lot of the Museaum District Association board members, they haven't kept abreast of everything that's going on - a lot of them are coming in new,"  said Tanya Cauthen, Belmont Butchery owner and co-chair of the opposition group, Don't Big Box Carytown.

"A lot of the changes are very minimal are very cosmetic," said Cauthen.

Her biggest concern is traffic.

"If you live, work, do anything in this area, it's already a challenge in that specific corner Nansemond isn't designed for a lot of traffic," said Cauthen.

Meantime, the Carytown Merchants Association president said they support the city's existing master plan and would prefer to have families move into the space. But will work with whatever ends up there.

"We want economic development. We want continued growth but we want it in a way that is good for the city and is good for the neighborhood," said Cauthen.

The Planning Commission will vote on the proposal Monday afternoon. If approved, it will go to the Richmond City Council for a final say.

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