Richmond leaders say business owner’s parklet project will go forward

Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 11:23 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 30, 2021 at 10:17 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - City leaders say a North Richmond business owner will be able to add a parklet outside of her juice shop. NBC12′s Brent Solomon got involved after the owner of Ms. Bee’s Juice bar said a city leader halted the project despite signing off on it.

Councilwoman Ann Frances-Lambert said the project was simply placed on hold so those who opposed the parklet could weigh in. They did so Thursday night at a community meeting, citing traffic concerns and fears it could cover up businesses or even attract criminal activity at night. Lambert says she will work with the business owner to make sure these concerns are addressed.

The owner of Ms. Bee’s Juice Bar says she got approval to add a parklet in front of her Brookland Park business. The community even helped her fund the project. But now, things aren’t going according to plan.

“It would be from this corner right here, and it would take up this space right here,” Brandi Brown said, pointing outside of her shop. The owner of Ms. Bee’s Juice Bar was excited. “It’s not just for me, it’s actually for the community.”

Her enthusiasm quickly took a turn after she found out a custom parklet she’s been working on for a year somehow hit a stumbling block.

“It will have trash cans on it after people eat. It also will have places where you can park your bike. It will have places where you can actually chain your dog if you can see your dog from whatever establishment you’re going in...Interchangable toys for the kids to play on, stroller parking...I plan on doing book readings with the kids on Saturdays,” she said explaining how she planned on using the space.

It all came to a halt after she says got a call from a city official.

“Her liason called me and said ‘hey...we’re going to put a stop on your parklet. We’ll talk about it at the meeting’...I have tried to reach her on several occasions - no luck,” Brown explained.

This was after, she says, the city signed off on the project. Several other Richmond businesses got approval to add them to their storefronts during the pandemic to spur outside dining.

“Mine was actually the first one that was custom built according to my business,” Brown continued.

“They allowed you to do that?” NBC 12 asked.

“Yes...We went up to the review board; they approved everything. We got approval from [the Department of Public Works]. We got approval from Ms. Utility to actually place the parklet here,” Brown replied.

“I just want to know why - that’s my biggest thing. Communicate and let me know why I’m not getting a parklet,” Brown said.

Again, city leaders say the project will go forward.

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