RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A revitalized Shockoe Bottom is one step closer. City leaders unveiled a new strategy to reinvigorate the area, which has been plagued by violence and vacancies.
The discussions for the strategy started a year ago but many said the need for change is years in the making. Richmonders have been waiting with baited breath, wanting to make sure Shockoe Bottom's future is bright.
If you had a crystal ball, what you'd see in the Bottom is a mixture of the old and new. It would be something that honors the area's history, while bringing it into the future.
"This provides neither a full remedy and it's not a quick fix but it lays the foundation for meaningful and strategic growth," explained Mayor Dwight Jones.
The crown jewel of the new strategy is the Main Street Train Shed and Concourse. Imagine the decrepit building as a beacon attracting those who drive by our city. The plan is to break ground on a welcome center, which will be a figurative heart of the Bottom, this June.
"It will be a singular standout piece of development if they can get this done," said Shockoe Bottom Neighborhood Association President David Napier.
It is a piece development, which would be more accessible after officials change certain one-way streets to two-way streets. City leaders hope to attract national retailers and mixed-use development when they rezone industrial areas.
These are all challenging endeavors given most of the Bottom is on a flood plane.
In terms of funding, the city said it needs to bring together public and private sectors.
If it comes to fruition, resident Nathan Smith likes what he hears and said it could combat his biggest issue, which is crime.
"If there was more people here, there'd be more police here protecting," he told NBC12. "It would just bring a better view to the whole area."
Traditionally, Richmonders have always been protective of locally owned businesses. When asked about a possible clash with national brands, city officials said the Bottom can accommodate both.