Mayor proposes Arts and Cultural District

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond's mayor Dwight Jones unveiled his plan today to turn Broad Street and portions of downtown into an arts and cultural district.

The proposal cultural district encompasses about 65 city blocks and includes historic cultural landmarks in the city like the Hippodrome Theater in Jackson Ward.

Mayor Jones wants a new way to promote his downtown. He wants to call the area between Broad Street and Belvidere the city's arts and cultural district.

"I see Broad Street as our front door and so we want to make sure that our front door looks as good west of the Convention Center as it does east of the Convention Center," said Mayor Jones.

Along with Broad, Capitol Square would be included in the designation. So would, CenterStage, the area surrounding the Richmond Coliseum and the Convention Center.

"Most people that live in the region have no idea the number of people that are actually coming into the city to conventions. As we build that out, we'll have a better opportunity to capitalize on that revenue source that comes in the city, looking for places to eat," said councilwoman
Ellen Robertson.

That's exactly why Laura Bailey supports the idea. She opened up Ettamae's Café in July next to the newly re-opened Hippodrome Theater.

"We have the Second Street Festival every year, but I think with the Hippodrome opening and everything happening it could be the 2 Street Festival every weekend," she said.

Under the mayor's plan, Bailey's fledgling business would fall directly in the new arts and cultural district.

"Branding anything really helps getting a concept together that people can understand, especially out of town people. Who come in for conventions or people who just move here, just helps them identify certain parts of the city," Bailey said.

The mayor will introduce an ordinance about the cultural district at tonight's council meeting. The idea will need final approval from city council.

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