Richmond Riverfront final draft shows plans for Mayo's Island

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The final draft for Richmond's riverfront is ready to go before the city council, with plans to make the riverfront more accessible.

The final draft goes into detail on better access to the river and enhancing the area that stretches from the Lee Bridge to Rocketts Landing.

With more than 800 acres of land and about 2.25 miles of riverfront, planners have had a vision of what the James River could be for the City of Richmond.

"Richmond is here because of the James," said Mark Olinger, director for the Department of Planning and Development.

But for many people it seems like the ideas to develop have been just talk. Now city planners say moves are being made.

"People will see improvements in the next year or so," said Olinger.  He says you will see construction in 2014.

One of the things highlighted in the 200 page packet is the Brown's Island Dam Walk that would connect the north and south banks of the river. Part of the vision of Brown's Island includes terraces so people could get a better view of the rapids. Right now, it's a slope covered in vegetation and trees.

The plan also goes into more detail on what to do with Mayo's Island.  For years the City saw the island as the centerpiece for the riverfront.  The long-term plan will transform this place from a vacant building to a green landscape for exploring.

"We've been talking about the options for Mayo for a long time. This tries to bring if not closure," Olinger said.

Planners estimate the overall cost for the riverfront project will be about $60-million. Funds will come from the city, state, federal and private level.  The first phase is scheduled to be complete by 2015.

The riverfront plan will be submitted to the planning commission in July.  The city council is expected to act on it in September.

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