Creating a community identity for Richmond's Brookland Park neighborhood

Creating a community identity for Richmond's Brookland Park neighborhood
Richmond developer hopes to create a brewery at a vacant car wash in the Brookland Park neighborhood

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Residents in Richmond's Brookland Park neighborhood say with future changes in the area, they're hoping to create a positive community identity.

Thursday night Richmond area developers shared ideas of some potential changes for the Brookland Park area.

CW Performance Group unveiled the concept of a brewery (Safety Team Brewing Company) to take over the vacant Quick Splash Car Wash on W Brookland Park Boulevard.

The Brookland Park Area Association hosted the meeting, drawing dozens of people from the area.

Willie Hillard, President of the Association, said there were mixed feelings about the plans for a brewery in the area, mostly because they weren't sure about the concept of having a business like that in the neighborhood.

Local radio personality Kelli Lemon took to Facebook Friday posing the question whether a brewery is what is needed first to help connect the Northside community.

"We have a lot of needs," Hillard said. "Personally, if you're putting a viable business in this community and doing the work of meeting the community at this point and letting us know what is going on, I think it will work."

"Everybody loves a good beer after a long day of work, so sure!" said Ashley Harris, of Richmond. "I just hope it's a great impact and that the community supports the business."

Harris was born and raised in the Brookland Park area.

She said the neighborhood hasn't always had a positive vibe, but now with companies looking to redevelop, she's hopeful about the future.

"I like the change that's coming," Harris said. "I just want it to be a positive impact on our community. Nothing negative… The overall picture I want is safety for our children."

"It's a great place to raise a family," said Rebecca Ponder, of Richmond. "It's very inter-generational, inter-racial. We love that we have neighbors who have been here for four months. We love that we have neighbors who have been here for 40, 50 years."

At Thursday's meeting, plans to redevelop an old bank a block up from the car wash were also discussed.

Details about that plan were not immediately available.

Resident also stressed the importance of public input on future changes to the neighborhood, in addition to making sure current businesses survive.

"As long as your business is solid and your product is good, you'll be sustainable," Hillard said. "Most of these people have been here for a lot of years. We welcome new development, as long as it's in line with what we see."

With that future change, residents hope Brookland Park will be able to create its own identity in the city.

"This is a residential community," Hillard said. "It's different from anyone else's community within the city. It will have its own look, own take as the vibe of Brookland Park."

"I would hate for it to lose its small town, very community oriented feel," Ponder added.

Developers for the potential brewery said they were not looking to stay open past nine or ten o'clock on weekdays because of nearby homes.

They will be meeting with community members in the future.

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