City News

Shockoe Small Area Plan available for public input

Residents are encouraged to provide feedback before August 27

The draft small area plan for the Shockoe area of Richmond is now available for public comment through August 27. The community-rooted plan envisions the redevelopment of Shockoe with an emphasis on reparative investment and historical justice.

The proposed Heritage Campus, dedicated to telling the complete history of the neighborhood, will serve as a catalyst for equitable growth.

Over the past year, the Office of DCAO Sharon Ebert and the Department of Planning and Development Review (PDR) have collaborated with the Shockoe Alliance and the community to develop the draft plan through monthly meetings, public workshops, surveys and focus group interviews. Now, residents can share their thoughts on the draft in a number of ways:

  • Visit https://www.rva.gov/planning-development-review/shockoe-small-area-plan to read the plan and provide your thoughts on an interactive document.
  • Attend an in person meeting hosted by PDR and Councilwoman Newbille on August 3 at 6:30 p.m. on the lower level of Main Street Station to listen to a presentation on the draft plan, ask questions, and provide your input.
  • Attend a virtual meeting hosted by PDR on August 4 at 12 p.m. to listen to a presentation on the draft plan, ask questions, and provide your input. The meeting link will be posted here.
  • Invite PDR staff to a meeting of your interested group or organization to share more about the draft plan. Please email kimberly.chen@rva.gov or call (804) 646-6364 to request a meeting.

“The Shockoe Small Area Plan considers the neighborhood’s and our city’s tumultuous history, proposing an intentional vision for sustainable growth,” said Mayor Levar Stoney. “I encourage every Richmond resident to give the draft plan a look and let us know what you think.”

Where is Shockoe?

Shockoe generally includes the area from the James River to E. Leigh Street and from 14th to 25th Streets to the east of the Central Business District. It encompasses the oldest portion of the City of Richmond, laid out in 1737 by Major William Mayo, and portions of the Shaccoe Plantation, controlled by members of the Byrd family since 1659.

In the mid-nineteenth century, Shockoe was the second largest market in enslaved Africans in the United States, second only to New Orleans. The area served as the commercial, industrial, religious, governmental, and residential center of the city for over 100 years. In the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, industrial and commercial enterprises burgeoned in Shockoe, resulting in the displacement of residences, churches, and schools.

The city addressed frequent flooding in Shockoe by burying Shockoe Creek in the 1920s and constructing the flood wall along the James River in the 1990s. In 1958, another swath was carved through the area with the construction of Interstate 95. In recent years, Shockoe has grown as a multi-family residential area and entertainment district. Many of the old factories have been converted to apartments, and commercial buildings have been adapted for use as restaurants and clubs.

Recent planning efforts in Shockoe

In 2018, Richmond was one of four cities selected for a yearlong program of professional development, leadership training and assistance with a local land use challenge known as the Rose Fellowship. The fellowship asked, “How can Richmond leverage the assets and investments in Shockoe Bottom to create a destination that protects its cultural and historic heritage, encourages economic development and is sustainable?” The panel of experts recommended a plan be created for Shockoe through an open public process focused on the reconciliation of Richmond’s past and present and not limited to a singular project.

Out of this recommendation came the creation of the Shockoe Alliance in 2019 to guide and facilitate the planning process and Mayor Stoney’s commitment in 2020 to the development of the Heritage Campus. In 2019, three public visioning sessions were held with over 570 participants. The Alliance worked diligently through the pandemic to guide the creation of this draft plan.

The Shockoe Small Area Plan outlines strategies for recognizing and commemorating Shockoe’s complex and difficult history through the development of the Heritage Campus. The Campus will serve as a major catalyst for economic development in the area. The plan also calls for development of vacant and underutilized parcels, the strengthening of links between other areas of the city and the regions, and the creation of equitable housing and business opportunities.

What’s next?

After this engagement period, staff will review the comments received, amend the plan, and then present the amended Shockoe Small Area Plan to City Planning Commission and City Council to be incorporated as a part of Richmond 300: A Guide for Growth, the City’s new Master Plan. Please contact Kimberly Chen at kimberly.chen@rva.gov or 804-646-6364 with any questions.

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