She was alright when she left here…

27 01 2008

An interesting Time Magazine article about design plans to revitalize the old Harland & Wolff Shipyard in Belfast, Northern Ireland into a residential and commercial center.  The largest waterfront redevelopment in Europe if approved.

Check it out!

Peachtree Streetcar in Atlanta

24 01 2008

An interesting article about efforts to run a streetcar down Peachtree Street in Atlanta, GA.  What’s interesting is how they plan to fund it…by raising taxes along the streetcar’s route.  It goes before the public soon.

The article.

Rail-to-Trails: Seaboard Air Line Railroad Trail – Chesterfield County

19 12 2007

Was looking through a book about hiking trails made from abandoned railroads.  What a great idea!  It’s being done all over the nation, and here in Virginia there are some popular ones in the western part of the state and around Washington.

It got me thinking…this idea could be done here in Richmond.  We have several old rail lines and abandoned railbeds that could be converted into hiking trails.

The first that hit me was the old Seaboard Air Line Railroad through Chesterfield.  The line was abandoned in the 60s I believe.  It runs just over 13 miles from Centralia to Petersburg. 

I’ve marked it on page.

Richmond should take notes from Alexandria…

10 12 2007

The Richmond Times-Dispatch‘s website had an article today about the City of Alexandria in Northern Virginia.  It’s an interesting article about how Alexandria a long time ago decided to capitalize on its history.  Something Richmond needs to do, but due to…..ignorance….has not.

Richmond Master Plan…or…We can make a fancy book and so can you!

27 11 2007

This week the City of Richmond released their draft of the Downtown Master Plan.  The lengthy description covers things like transportation, housing, recreation and the like.

A lot of items in the plan are good…some are questionable, but okay we’ll go along…and others…well, we’ll see.

I have no idea if turning one way streets to two way streets is even worth the effort.  There are those who know better than I.  Planting trees and improving the street-scape will never hurt.  I love the idea of bringing back the streetcar.  I’d use it. 

The plan calls for Mayo’s Island to become a park and incorporated into the James River Park System.  This would be awesome, and perhaps better than developing it.  Development is probably not likely due to it being in the middle of the river beyond the protection of the flood wall. 

Magnificent renderings of downtown scenes are featured in this book:

Marshall Street

Above: The Future of Marshall Street?  Why not?

Below: The renewal of Hull Street in Manchester, which is now considered “downtown”…

Hull Street

 Two items that struck me…

One: the desire of the city to have a signature building at the northern end of the Manchester Bridge (see below):


 …and secondly…


This is most interesting to me.  Apparently there’s a movement (unknown how intense and/or serious) to have the USS Zuni, a World War II vessel, to dock at Richmond as a permanent fixture downtown.  This would be tremendous, awesome and fantastic all at the same time.

Bottom line…

Any and all parts of this would not hurt the city.  But would it be good for the city?  Perhaps.  I have been very optimistic about the city’s future…in spite of itself.  Richmond is a unique place in this nation.  Faced with the same challenges as any other comparable city, we seem to have a slightly different spirit than most.  It is difficult to explain.

The City really needs to embrace its history while at the same time focus on its future.  The opportunities are endless if those in charge can figure out this balance. 

 I wish this plan well and hope that the ones who will implement it will have success.

I’m hopeful.

The need to be pedestrian friendly.

8 10 2007

The Richmond Times-Dispatch today had an article about a gentleman’s successful efforts to have sidewalks installed along Brook Road in the vicinity of Parham Road.  This is an extremely busy intersection and you do quite often see people attempting to walk, ride and maneuver the area.

In follow up to my post yesterday, I’d also have to say that the need to make areas pedestrian friendly is as paramount as providing adequate public transportation.  You need a way to get to the bus stop if there’s to be a bus stop.

Not only that, but in certain areas it is down right stupid to constantly have to get in your car and relocate to a parking lot just 200 feet away when you could easily walk.  Such is the case of Bell Creek Road in Mechanicsville.  With the influx of development along this stretch of road from US 360 to VA 156, it seems logical to install sidewalks so people can take advantage of all the shopping and not have to risk life and limb and travel on Bell Creek Road, aka the Autobahn of Richmond.

I hope that one day the Hanover County Board of Supervisors will acknowledge that it would make more sense to install sidewalks than to have people walking on the shoulder of the road or in the travel lane itself.  This would also be the case for Mechanicsville Turnpike.

People won’t rely less on their cars until they’re given a realistic alternative.

Westhaven Towne Center – Mechanicsville, VA

2 10 2007

Heading back to work after lunch yesterday, I noticed a new sign up in the field across from Kroger on Creighton Parkway.  It advertised a development named Westhaven Towne Center.  As soon as I got to a computer that day, I researched about it and found a site with info. 


If this development is built as planned, it will be a phenominal place to live, work and shop.  It’s very similar to the concept of Chester Village Green in Chester, and I’m excited about the prospect of it being here in Mechanicsville. 

I emailed one of the contacts at Thalhimer Real Estate who’s developing the site and was told that “dirt could move soon” at this site depending on how leasing goes.  This is the perfect spot for a Barnes & Noble.  That kind of retailer would fit right in.

This is a spot that will be watched closely to see how it develops.

Petersburg, Virginia

16 09 2007

Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous day!

I took the opportunity of the pleasant weather to head down to Petersburg to take some photos.  For weeks now I’ve been wanting to get down there for that.

First, let me just say, if you read nothing else know this: If you change out the trees that line Petersburg’s Old Towne for Palmetto Trees, you would think you’re in Charleston, SC.  Petersburg has that feel to it.

Now, I went into Old Towne to photograph the area because it is a mix of old Alexandria and Charleston.  But in saying that, it’s not really fair to compare because Petersburg has her own identity that perhaps has similar traits to her sister southern cities.  Enough ryhmes and alliterations.

I am SO enthralled with Petersburg.  Walking the streets you get a real sense of the potential for this area.  I checked out some of the antique shops, got some coffee from Java Mio and walked the streets.  Taking over 30 megabytes of photos, I posted the vast majority of them on Flickr.  My family has our roots in Petersburg, VA.  The John Baird house in the city is my great-great-great-great-great-etc. Grandfather’s.  I wanted a picture of it, but the batteries died in the camera and, alas, I didn’t bring a spare set.

Folks, Petersburg’s on the verge of something big.  It could be awesome with what they want do there.  I read the report some months ago about the master plan with the marina and the river front and along with the other plans it could be an incredible place to live, work and hang out.  Being there yesterday really made me want to have a house on Grove Avenue or somewhere around there.

The people that were around Saturday were extremely friendly.  There was no hesitation to greet one another as you pass by.  Some shop owners sat out in front of their stores greeting people and were extremely helpful with some of my questions.  If you love shopping for antiques, then head down to Petersburg, they have everything!!! Seriously, I saw it.

Bottom Line: Petersburg is an excellent place.  Full of history, the longest siege in North America occurred here, the Civil War battlefields are just minutes drive away, and the architecture is phenominal.  The people were friendly, the shops interesting, the coffee awesome! 

With the increase in population looming, more and more will get a chance to see this great city, be sure you’re one of them to check it out.  Keep reading in the news about the efforts to revitalize the city and support those who are working there.

Thanks Petersburg for an enjoyable afternoon!

P.S. – I amen my earlier post about Petersburg should get Part 3 of the Museum of the Confederacy.  It would fit nicely there in town.

Fort Lee’s Growth = Our Gain

15 09 2007

The Richmond Times-Dispatch this morning is reporting on the contruction at Fort Lee.  Over the next serval years Fort Lee will expand to accomodate more than 17,000 additional personnel comeing through the military installation in Hopewell.

The paper said the increase will generate $1.5 to $2 billion dollars in economic growth…..billion!!!

My main concern about Fort Lee growth…….there’s nothing adequatly available in the Tri-Cities where the new people coming in can go and worship.  Something needs to be done.  I’ve mentioned this to my administrator at work who is on the board of the Virginia Evanglizing Fellowship (VEF).  That they need to really be focusing on this area as it will be a huge market that has no place to go.  The VEF support churches around Virginia and is involved in starting new churches as well.  So here is an area on the verge of tremendous growth over the next four years, and no church suitable to accomodate the tens of thousands coming in. 

There’s still time to get something going, and the VEF, and fellow Christians across Virginia need to see that it is done.  If not us, then who?  Don’t let this opportunity pass by, do something!

The latest on development east of the city…

12 09 2007

This blog concerns development east of US 301 to the I-295/I-64 interchange in Eastern Henrico excluding developments within the City of Richmond (for info on that go to Richmond City Watch). 

TGI Fridays – This restuaraunt which for years has been promising to build, is finally building.  The extension of Creighton Parkway is in the process of being paved and new signal lights installed at its intersection with Mechanicsville Turnpike.  The store itself is moving right along, exterior work seems to be going pretty quickly.  No timetable of when they’re opening, but I’m guessing they want to be open in time for the Holidays.

Stonewall Square – the sign’s up, but I cannot find much info about this place.  It is going to be across Creighton Pkwy extension from Friday’s.  I know that a 7-11 is going in beside Liberty Christian across from Kroger.  There was once rumor that a Wawa was going in, but it seems 7-11 will be the gas station there. (also Creekside Village townhomes are going in by this development).

The Shops at Creighton – this is something new I’ve stumbled upon, it is going to be on Creighton Pkwy BEHIND Kroger and American Family.  Site work has been submitted to the county the last I heard.

Lowe’s – they’re moving right along with work at the new Lowe’s.  It seems they’re getting ready to lay the pad for the building.  This development appears to be coinciding with the condo development going in behind CiCi’s Pizza.  Lowe’s expects to open in January.

Best Buy, Bell Creek Commons – Best Buy looks poised to open soon.  Exterior work is wrapping up.  They were putting a fresh coat of paint on the building yesterday.  There’s interior work being done at the Starbucks, but no signs up yet for other stores.  A very small “Orginial Mattress Company” sign was up, but I haven’t seen it in a while.  The Chick-fi-Lay sign is up, but no work seems to be being done on the site.  Not sure when the traffic signal’s going in either.  (they may wait until VDOT begins Bell Creek realignment in 2009-2010).  Chipotle is also supposed to go into this shopping center.

Buffalo Wild Wings – the signs are up, interior work progressing, they’re hiring so it must be soon.  Probably trying to get open by the Holidays.

Creighton Road @ 295 – noticed some people visually surveying the property diagnal from Fairmount Christian Church on Monday.  Three people in business atire.  That land is zoned business and can even support a gas station.  Stay tuned…

The Shops at Library Center – the new Mechanicsville Library goes before the Planning Commission September 21 and if approved goes to the Board October 25.  This shopping center will feature the new library and outparcel retail behind Pizza Hut and Arby’s.  Click here for informationThe New Mechanicsville Library Blog.

Dry Bridge Commons – Large commercial development at I-295 and US 60 in eastern Henrico.  Big box retail, resuarants, and hotels.

White Oak Village – Lots going on here, but no website yet….weird.

Audobon Center – this is going next to White Oak Village on Audobon Road.  It’s supposed to feature a big box retailer, restuarants and the like.

Tree Hill Farm – this is huge, on the order of Rockett’s Landing in the City.