Sunday, October 02, 2011

Reviving the Boulevard, Scott's Addition, and Three Corners

Kudos to Charlie Diradour for removing an eyesore from the Boulevard just north of Broad Street.

This part of the Boulevard, starting at Broad Street and running roughly north to Hermitage, takes in some of Richmond's best and worst. Until Diradour's recent action, it was home to the Triangle Adult Bookstore. Many homeless and transients haunt the street corners here. But the Boulevard is also home to the Diamond baseball stadium and Bowtie Movieland Theaters--a unique renovation of an old industrial building.

The Boulevard's human geography is in the process of transformation. Until recently the northern section of the Boulevard has served as little more than a traffic corridor for motorists to move between the residential areas of the Fan and Museum District to the South, and Richmond's Northside residential areas--as well as Henrico's Lakeside residential neighborhoods.

To the east of the northern Boulevard is an area once known as "Three Corners," a name that has fallen into disuse. To the west of the Boulevard lies Scott's Addition. Both of these areas have seen some renovation and redevelopment, but the results have been uneven. Large areas of the Three Corners District remain empty. Redevelopment projects underway in Scott's Addition were hard hit by the conviction of developer Justin French in a tax credit fraud scheme. French had been heavily involved in redevelopment of Scott's Addition and his arrest and conviction--roughly coinciding with the downturn in the economy, effectively derailed much redevelopment in the area.

Hopefully with the leadership of good folks like Charlie Diradour, this area can get back on track. There are still huge opportunities for redevelopment here. At some point in the not too distant future the City of Richmond will probably close its truck maintenance facility and build a replacement for the Diamond at that location. That will, in turn, open up the Diamond's location for a new project--like maybe a football team and stadium for Virginia Commonwealth University . . . oh well, we can still dream, can't we?

The old FFV cookie factory also stands empty. This striking building could be redeveloped into a mixed use project like Dallas' West Village, dramatically shifting feel of this area and converting it into an engine of growth and development within Richmond. The potential is there--all that is missing is the leadership.

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