Richmond set to embark on feasibility study to reconnect Jackson Ward neighborhood

Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 4:11 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 10, 2021 at 5:50 AM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia’s Governor announced Thursday the Virginia Department of Transportation and The City of Richmond would conduct a feasibility study for the Jackson Ward neighborhood. The study will get underway in early 2022 and take about six months to complete.

“Right now, you have one-way streets, one way in, one way out. It’s kind of hard to navigate from one side to the other. We want to figure out better ways to improve that,” said Maritza Pechin, City of Richmond Department of Planning and Development Review Deputy Director.

The goal is to assess infrastructure options to reconnect the historic Jackson Ward neighborhood, mainly to reconnect the north and south portions physically.

Once referred to as the “Harlem of the South,” in the 1950s, Jackson Ward was split in half by Interstates 95 and 64, limiting access, growth, and connectivity. At the time, it displaced 10% of the city’s black population.

“That could be another bridge. That could be a better bridge. That could be decking all over the highway so like building on top of the highway,” said Pechin.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg went on a walking tour of the Jackson Ward area to see firsthand where some federal infrastructure funds would go.

The study will be done in a phased approach, starting with feedback from residents and business owners in the area.

But that’s not all the attention the area is getting. Nearly half a million dollars of federal funding is coming to help with the redevelopment of Gilpin Court, which is in Jackson Ward.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development gave Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority $450,000 to help accomplish its goal of transforming Richmond’s biggest and oldest public housing community.

“So that will look at housing strategies, people strategies, and neighborhood strategies,” said Pechin.

RRHA says the plan could take a year or two to develop in concert with residents.

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