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Governor Northam announces study to explore ways to reconnect Jackson Ward

“In the past, highway construction too often destroyed neighborhoods in the name of ‘progress,” said Governor Northam. “Now, some 70 years later, we now have the opportunity to explore ways to right these wrongs and re-connect historic neighborhoods.”

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Governor Ralph Northam on Thursday announced that the Virginia Department of Transportation and the City of Richmond are conducting a feasibility study to assess infrastructure options to reconnect the historic Jackson Ward neighborhood. This once-thriving community was severed by the construction of the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike in the 1950s and now is bisected by Interstates 95 and 64.

“In the past, highway construction too often destroyed neighborhoods in the name of ‘progress,” said Governor Northam. “Now, some 70 years later, we now have the opportunity to explore ways to right these wrongs and re-connect historic neighborhoods.” The Governor noted that President Biden recently signed the new federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which includes new funds to reconnect communities that were divided by highway construction in the past.

The study will assess potential options to physically reconnect the north and south neighborhoods of this historic African American community. Once referred to as the “Harlem of the South,” Jackson Ward is split in half by the interstate, limiting access, growth, and connectivity to downtown Richmond.

The study will be a phased approach, beginning with a community visioning process to garner feedback and engagement from residents and business owners.

“State and federal housing and highway projects severed Jackson Ward, destroyed Black homes, and displaced thousands of Black residents,” said Mayor Levar M. Stoney. “This feasibility study, coupled with the recently announced HUD Choice Neighborhood Planning Grant for Jackson Ward/Gilpin, is an important next step toward healing these two communities and bridging the physical space between them.”

“Through this collaborative process, we plan to develop critical technical analysis and potential design options to support the city of Richmond’s goal of reconnecting Jackson Ward,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “The study results and conceptual designs will also provide information needed for grant and funding options for this revitalization priority.”

“Having worked in the General Assembly for 15 years to redress racial injustice, I am pleased to see the Commonwealth take these steps to restore the Jackson Ward neighborhood to its historic footprint through community collaboration,” said Senator Jennifer McClellan.

“This feasibility study will help lay the groundwork to reconnect Jackson Ward, a predominantly Black community, that was once the heart of the City of Richmond,” said Delegate Jeff Bourne. “I look forward to working with the constituents of the 71st District, Mayor Stoney, and the Commonwealth as solutions are identified to right some of the past wrongs that have negatively impacted this once vibrant community.”

Further information on public outreach and study planning materials will be shared publicly upon finalization.

The City established a preliminary website for the project, which can be viewed here.

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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Venture Richmond Offering Up 10k Broad Street Tenant Recruitment Grants

Venture Richmond was awarded a grant from the Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development to help recruit ten new tenants to Broad Street in Downtown Richmond. Each new tenant will get a $10,000 grant for moving in and opening by May 15, 2022.

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From Venture Richmond

Venture Richmond was awarded a grant from the Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development to help recruit ten new tenants to Broad Street in Downtown Richmond. Each new tenant will get a $10,000 grant for moving in and opening by May 15, 2022. Venture Richmond is partnering with the Metropolitan Business League (MBL) to help recruit existing small, women, and minority (SWaM) and immigrant-owned businesses to ­fill street-level vacancies in the area.

​The new businesses will join many galleries, retailers, restaurants, and small businesses who already call Broad Street home, as well as businesses that attract thousands of out of town visitors annually like Quirk Hotel, Richmond Marriott, the Hilton Hotel, and the Convention Center. Gather, co-working space, has a location in the area. A popular neighborhood happening is RVA First Fridays Artwalk which is a monthly celebration of the arts and galleries along and around Broad St. This section of Broad Street is also a part of Richmond’s Arts District and adjacent to Jackson Ward, near the VCU Monroe Park Campus and the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) to the west and City and State offices and VCU Health to the east.

THE CRITERIA FOR ELIGIBILITY INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:

  • Eligible once the business has moved into the space and opened for business by May 15, 2022.
  • Veri­fied 1-year minimum lease
  • Lease street-level space on Broad Street between Belvidere and 5th streets
  • New business to Downtown, not the relocation of an existing business in the General District/BID.
  • Existing businesses in the General District, who want to open an additional location on Broad Street.
  • Existing businesses located outside of the General District, who want to open another location/outpost on Broad Street.
  • Types of qualifying businesses include retailers, restaurants, makers, entrepreneurs, startups, and other creative businesses.
  • One $10,000 reimbursement grant per storefront, if a group of small businesses wanted to share space there would only be one grant available for the group.
  • Only eligible once
  • Availability based on ­first come fi­rst served

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR ASSISTANCE, CONTACT:

Micah White

Business Development Manager

The MBL

804-356-9298

[email protected]

Lucy Meade

Director Economic Development & Community Relations

Venture Richmond, Inc.

804-248-8372

[email protected]

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Downtown

Virginia lawmakers propose decriminalizing psychedelic mushrooms

“It is increasingly a recognized treatment for refractory depression and PTSD,” said Del. Dawn Adams, D-Richmond, a nurse practitioner whose legislation would also decriminalize peyote, a cactus that contains the psychedelic compound mescalin. “It’s changed people’s lives.”

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By Ned Oliver

Two Virginia lawmakers have introduced legislation that would end felony penalties for possession of psychedelic mushrooms, citing the drug’s growing acceptance in medicinal contexts.

“It is increasingly a recognized treatment for refractory depression and PTSD,” said Del. Dawn Adams, D-Richmond, a nurse practitioner whose legislation would also decriminalize peyote, a cactus that contains the psychedelic compound mescalin. “It’s changed people’s lives.”

The legislation would reduce the penalty for possession — currently a Class 5 felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison — to a $100 civil fine.

Sens. Ghazala Hashmi, D-Chesterfield, and Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax, introduced similar legislation in the Senate.

The bill would put Virginia at the forefront of a nascent decriminalization movement that has primarily been limited to cities, including Washington, D.C. So far, Oregon is the only state to legalize medicinal use of psilocybin, an active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms.

The bill likely faces long odds, especially in the House of Delegates, where the newly reinstated Republican majority has historically resisted efforts to loosen drug laws. That said, Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle, who leads the chamber’s Courts of Justice Committee, said he is open to hearing arguments in favor of the legislation.

“That is not something we’ve taken up before,” he said. “I’d be interested in hearing what (Adams) has to say.”

Even if the legislation were to pass, the drug would remain illegal, albeit with reduced penalties. That makes it unlikely medical providers in Virginia would embrace psychedelics as a treatment option, but Adams said it would nonetheless be a step in the right direction.

“If we decriminalize it, it allows people to learn,” she said. “It doesn’t egg people on (to use the drug). It tries to open the door for us to continue to study the positive effects on people’s mental health going forward.”

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GRTC Prepares for Downtown Transfer Plaza Update

GRTC will update the Downtown Transfer Plaza with new bus bay locations on 9th, Clay, and 8th Streets to accommodate nearby construction zones and preserve bus rider connections at night and on Sundays.

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Soon GRTC will update the Downtown Transfer Plaza with new bus bay locations on 9th, Clay, and 8th Streets to accommodate nearby construction zones and preserve bus rider connections at night and on Sundays. Several bus stop shelters, benches, and trash cans will be relocated to new bay locations on Clay and 8th St., and wayfinding maps will be posted nearby for riders. New on-board announcements will explain the bay locations and routes serving them when buses approach the Plaza. GRTC expects the updates may be necessary as soon as February 2022.

Four bays will not change at all – A, B, C, and D. However, Bays E and F relocate to Clay and Bays G, H, and I will relocate to 8th St. Bus Stop #2522 at 9th and Marshall will become Bay J. Because of nearby construction, some pedestrian pathways may be closed. Riders should only use marked pedestrian crossings at the Plaza.

GRTC Chief Executive Officer Julie Timm says, “I appreciate the City of Richmond’s support to help us coordinate necessary operational updates at the Downtown Transfer Plaza so that we can continue reliably serving customers and keep everyone safe from nearby construction zones. We were able to ensure essential infrastructure of shelters, benches, and wayfinding signage will be available at the new bus bays on 8th and Clay Streets. Our riders have been dealing with detours and other service adjustments Downtown recently, and we ask them, once again, to please pardon our dust as we work around obstacles to connect them with their jobs, homes, shopping, health care, education, and other community resources.”

This week, GRTC staff will begin installation of new bus bay stop signs, post new wayfinding materials, and coordinate with construction crews on relocation of shelters, benches, and trash cans in advance of sidewalk closures.

The Downtown Transfer Plaza opened in 2014 on 9th St. to ensure bus service could operate during major events on Broad St. in 2014 and 2015 and remained on 9th St. while efforts to secure a permanent transfer site continued. With the network redesign in 2018, the Downtown Transfer Plaza is now primarily used on Sundays and at nights when connecting buses have lower frequencies (longer waits between buses) and need well-timed connections for bus riders to transfer between 30-minute or hourly bus routes.

Another temporary update to the Downtown Transfer Plaza is expected later in 2022 when bays will move within the 8th St. surface parking lot between 8th and 9th Sts., and Leigh and Clay Sts., fully relocating bus bays from on-street to a designated lot out of the flow of general traffic. The City of Richmond and GRTC are collaborating on the updates in 2022 and continue joint efforts with other stakeholders to plan for a permanent Downtown Transfer Center in the future.

GRTC is a public service corporation providing mobility services in the Greater Richmond area. GRTC’s current operational budget (FY22) of $63.2 million primarily funds daily mobility operations and vehicle maintenance. GRTC provided 7.8 million trips during FY21 (July 1, 2020 – July 30, 2021).

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