Better Block Project transforms North 25th Street - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Better Block Project transforms North 25th Street

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

A major transformation is happening in the city's East End thanks to a national organization. North 25th Street in Church Hill is now home to outdoor cafes and shops, temporary walkways and bike lanes.

It's part of the city's effort to make the neighborhood both a local and nationwide destination.

Though one in four people in the River City live below the poverty line, Mayor Dwight Jones says, that area of Church Hill has one of the highest concentrations of poverty city-wide.

"If we can change the paradigm here we can change it for the entire city," the mayor said at a kick-off party for the Better Block Project.

The project, run by founder Jason Roberts, has transformed neighborhood blocks across the country and now they've redone 25th street.

"We look for these old buildings that are vacant," said Roberts. "We look for a community that is in close proximity and we look for a place that needs some stuff happening on the ground."

That's why residents hope the temporary fix of pop-up shops, bike lanes, crosswalks and patios will be permanent.

"We usually drive through this area on our way to or from somewhere," said resident Kristen Evans. "This isn't a place where we're out on a Friday afternoon walking but it would be great if it could be a destination place like that."

So how does that happen once all of this is gone?

"The project itself is temporary but it's a way to get ideas on the table and get the property owners talking and communities talking," said Roberts.

Mayor Dwight Jones said, "When you show people what can be they get an idea of the vision and they begin to want to be a part of it."

Talk of improving 25th street has circulated the city for years. Mayor Jones says, he hopes that this initiative will bring more players to the table to finally make that change happen.

The Better Block Project continues through Saturday from 9a.m. to 3p.m. on North 25th Street between P and Carrington Streets. There will be musical performances, food carts and other family friend activities.

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