**Editors note: Previous renderings of the vision for the memorial park were incorrect.
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Renderings for the vision of the proposed Shockoe Area Memorial Park in Richmond are available to the public to view after the Mayor announced plans for the project on Tuesday.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced plans to commit a capital improvement budget amendment for $25-50 million dedicated to sharing what he calls Richmond’s “complete history.”
The money would be incorporated in the city’s five-year Capital Improvement Project plan, and still requires city council approval.
However, Stoney said the city has already committed $3.5 million for a Shockoe Area Memorial Park.
“The funds will come from surplus funds paid into court from city tax sales,” Stoney added.
The memorial park has long been a vision for several community groups including the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project, Virginia Defenders Indigent Defense Commission and Preservation Virginia.
For years these groups advocated for change and recognition of the area known in Shockoe Bottom known as the Devil’s Half Acre, which encompasses the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail. This is the site where thousands of enslaved men, women and children were imprisoned, tortured, and sold across the country.
Around 2014, several of these groups came together to create a proposal called the “Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park” project.
However, members of these groups said the project never gained traction with city leaders.
In 2018, the Shockoe Alliance was created by Stoney to “support, guide and embrace a unified vision for Shockoe Bottom, rooted in history and collaboration.”
On Tuesday, Stoney announced plans to move forward with creating what could be called the Shockoe Area Memorial Park, which will include greenspace and a heritage center or museum.
“Shockoe Bottom is a site of conscious,” said Ana Edwards, Chair of the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project. “That is what the International Coalition of Sites of Conscious refer to as a place of memory that prevents that erasure of traumatic histories from happening in order to ensure a more just and humane future.”
“The opportunity to create space that serves as a site of conscious, memorialization, reflection, education and atonement,” Stoney added.
The space for the memorial park will encompass the African American Burial Ground, the Devil’s Half Acre site and the two blocks east of the railroad tracks that may constitute a future archaeological site.
Preliminary renderings dated from August 2019 from the Shockoe Bottom Equitable Economic Redevelopment Resource Guide show a current vision of what the park may look like.
While the renderings may source the “Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park” project, city leaders said this is part of the current vision for the plan ahead. To view the resource guide, click here.
“We have an opportunity to leave an amazing gift to generations who are yet to come,” said Delegate Delores McQuinn. “If we don’t get it done shame on us; shame on us. This is the right time and the right people are at the table to make a change and bring about a transformation in this particular area that tells the truth.”
“The lives of enslaved Africans matter; Black lives matter, and the opportunity to tell the whole story in this city, in this time, is even more critical than ever before,” said Cynthia Newbille, Richmond City Council President.
Design plans for the site are not finalized, rather the images above are conceptual visions for the area.
Any designs would still need approval by several city departments and city council.
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