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6 hours ago, RiverYuppy said:

On a related note though, I really wish we had a shopping district in the city where stores like Warby Parker could go instead of Short Pump. 

Fully agreed! Even with all the discussion around retail mentioned in the Richmond300 Plan and the various small area plans, the old retail core along the stretch of E. Broad and E. Grace from between 1st and about 8th that had its heyday in the 1920s through until around 1970 is long since gone and I just don't ever foresee that kind of district returning downtown. Exactly WHERE a legit shopping district that might be similar to the old retail core would develop in or close to downtown - or even if it would be actually downtown at all - is an enigma and one of those $64,000 questions to which I await the answer. Perhaps there will be multiple smaller shopping districts in various parts of the city. Recall the Richmond300 plan renderings for Greater Scott's Addition shows that along the northern stretch of Arthur Ashe Boulevard as exactly that kind of district with intense, dense, residential (possibly mixed-use - office) development rising atop block after block of retail. Now, I know the drive-through stuff being built on the west side of A.A. Boulevard up by the Diamond is kiboshing some of that - but hopefully all that stuff will be temporary and replaced by the intense, high-density development depicted in the renderings.

Perhaps the most important element to developing that kind of retailing district somewhere in the central city is dramatically increasing the number of residents living downtown and in districts such as Scotts', Greater Scotts, Carver/Allison/Newtowne, etc. Much greater population in terms of raw numbers and particularly population density in the central city in all likelihood will be THE magnet that brings about the kind of retailing district(s) we want to see. I don't even think it's a chicken-and-egg scenario. Residents are pouring into the city (regardless of what the Census says - and I believe that was a major undercount driven by the pandemic and government policy/procedure problems in handling the data collection) -- with or without a major identifiable retailing district downtown or elsewhere. The more people pack into the central city, the more retailers will eye the area for development. I think it will come. But we need residents there to bring it into being.

Edited by I miss RVA
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34 minutes ago, I miss RVA said:

I don't mind the slowdown in the news right now. But I want to see construction activity ramp up. My biggest concern when extremely long periods of time elapse between announcement and groundbreaking is that something will go wrong to derail the project. Major national economic downturn... developer has difficulty securing financing... something .. which causes the project to be either scaled back or scrapped altogether... or the property gets sold to a different developer who goes in a completely different direction with the property. 

I've said this on here before - Elvis sang a great song in 1970-ish that expresses exactly how I feel about it. "A little less conversation, a little more action please!"

I love the all the project announcements. But I love the cranes and rising buildings even more.

I fully agree with this as I stare at my spreadsheet of pending 7+ story developments.  While I worry about projects failing from the wait, I assume many are either holding out for material prices to drop or going back the the drawing board in order to transition to cheaper materials.

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16 minutes ago, Icetera said:

I fully agree with this as I stare at my spreadsheet of pending 7+ story developments.  While I worry about projects failing from the wait, I assume many are either holding out for material prices to drop or going back the the drawing board in order to transition to cheaper materials.

This! 

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On the subject of a shopping district, anyone here been to Santana Row in San Jose? I think the plan was to put it downtown, but … it wasn’t. My uncle works in a Cushman-Wakefield office building that is as suburban as can be. All he has to do to have at lunch at SR is walk down a small hill. He jokes that he would slide down the hill but is already past retirement age. :-)

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Yes, I've been to Santana Row and it is well done, though sterile IMHO. It embodies a lot of what Innsbrook hopes to achieve in its overhaul and what a bit of that West Broad village has across from Short Pump. But nationally, brick and mortar retail has and will continue to take a hit, so I don't foresee many new retail districts. More like a few top draw places (e.g., Fashion Island in SoCal, Tysons in NoVa, Lenox in Atlanta) and even they will struggle.  RVA is so lucky to have Carytown and I hope we can sustain and grow that. I have lived in LA, DC, and I'm now in Atlanta, and with the exception of a few stretches in LA, none of these far larger areas have anything close to the special mix (and size) of Carytown.  And I will take Carytown any day over a mall. Downtown definitely needs to grow its residential population further, but it has made tremendous progress. I was just home and walked all around, ate lunch at Lillie Pearl, picked up Stella's Market on Grace, and it was all promising. I think that stretch of Broad and Grace from VCU to the Capitol has made so much progress and has such future potential. That's the part of downtown that excites me most. 

Edited by flaneur
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1 hour ago, flaneur said:

Yes, I've been to Santana Row and it is well done, though sterile IMHO. It embodies a lot of what Innsbrook hopes to achieve in its overhaul and what a bit of that West Broad village has across from Short Pump. But nationally, brick and mortar retail has and will continue to take a hit, so I don't foresee many new retail districts. More like a few top draw places (e.g., Fashion Island in SoCal, Tysons in NoVa, Lenox in Atlanta) and even they will struggle.  RVA is so lucky to have Carytown and I hope we can sustain and grow that. I have lived in LA, DC, and I'm now in Atlanta, and with the exception of a few stretches in LA, none of these far larger areas have anything close to the special mix (and size) of Carytown.  And I will take Carytown any day over a mall. Downtown definitely needs to grow its residential population further, but it has made tremendous progress. I was just home and walked all around, ate lunch at Lillie Pearl, picked up Stella's Market on Grace, and it was all promising. I think that stretch of Broad and Grace from VCU to the Capitol has made so much progress and has such future potential. That's the part of downtown that excites me most. 

Great post and good takes! I 100% agree with you - Carytown is a RARE gem that a lot of cities don't have. RVA is very lucky to have such a wonderful neighborhood.  Regarding the stretch of Broad and Grace from VCU to downtown - you should have seen it -particularly from about 1st street through 8th - some 50, 60, 70 years ago (I didn't see it 70 or 60 years ago, but I did see it 50 years ago) - I may have to dig up some classic Broad & Grace pictures from the 40s, 50s, 60s ... it was a retail district that brought New York, Chicago, Philly to mind. I remember packed sidewalks and heavy vehicular traffic in the retail core - and the lights on Broad -- all the retailers' signage, billboards, etc., was something to behold. Almost like a miniature version of Broadway. It was a sight to see.

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Oh I have seen some of those photos, and the entire urban vibrancy from the golden era of the American downtown is amazing. I had the chance to experience the tail end in the late '70's and '80s and have fond memories of trips to Miller & Rhoads, Thalhimers, Cokesbury, and more with my family.  I think those trips are where I started my strong love of cities and  affection for places that have a real there there. I often joke that aside from modern medicine and civil rights, I live in the wrong era. But cities are dynamic and I'm excited to see our downtown evolve with an emphasis on more residents, better connectivity,  and an embrace of the river....more of a human feel than the big monolithic downtown approach of the 90's and early 00's with "economic savior" projects such as convention centers and big towers disconnected from the urban fabric. 

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flaneur: here are some pictures of what I was talking about regarding the Broad/Grace retail district through the late '60s-early '70s.  These first two pictures are how I remember the old retail core. Broad Street was where the action was.

NOTE: Photos in this post and in the following posts are courtesy of:  the Richmond Times-Dispatch photo archives, the Valentine Museum, VCU Libraries, the Library of Virginia photo archives, Thalhimer's (findingthalhimers.com) archives.

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I wasn't around in the '50s - but Broad Street was a happenin' place for decades. The late '40s and throughout the '50s, Broad Street was often packed with people.

 

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Edited by I miss RVA
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There was quite a bit of retail on the side streets as well - plus places to eat. Seventh Street between Broad and Grace, across from Thalhimer's is a good example of it.

There were shoe stores galore up and down Broad. Men's shoes, women's shoes, family shoes - you name it. 

Parking was always a premium - and it was not uncommon to find a small "thank you" note from the city if you ran afoul of parking regs.

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Edited by I miss RVA
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The stretch of N. 6th Street between Broad and Marshall (where 6th Street Marketplace was eventually built) - had this AMAZING place - basically as 6th Street farmer's market - but it was that and more - there were flower venders who set up shop outside the market building -- it was almost like visiting a bazaar in a way. Inside was more than just produce - there was a pretty robust fresh fish market - I remember going in there on many occasions when I was really little - and kvetching to my parents about how the place really stunk ... well, that fish smell... what can you do? Looking at the pictures, it appears there were butchers there, as well. I honestly don't remember - I was too little - but I do remember the building and the counters and the smell of the fish.

These pix are from before my time, but it hadn't changed much in the late '60s when we used to go. I can't remember if it survived until the city started vacating the storefronts on 6th Street to make way for the Project One developments (the 600 Building and the Richmond Marriott) ... all of which got started by the time I was in undergrad.

Sixth Street also had the open-air farmer's market stands up and down the street on both sides of the street.

 

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Edited by I miss RVA
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Fantastic photos! Thanks. I sure wish we could time travel and change a lot of highway and housing policies post-WWII. Hindsight is 20/20, but we went all in on cars and suburbs and we're only now course correcting. 

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13 hours ago, Shakman said:

In the first pic, is the tower crane for the construction of City Hall?

Yes. The picture (from what I understand) was taken in January of 1969 - and construction of City Hall was well underway.

Edited by I miss RVA
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Just a few more pics showing just how robust the Broad/Grace Street retail core was back in the day:

Two of the "minor" anchor department stores downtown were names more commonly found in suburban malls or shopping centers like Southside Plaza and Willow Lawn: G.C. Murphy and F.W. Woolworth. They had 'anchor'-type stores on Broad Street that were, if I'm not mistaken, the largest single stores for each retailer anywhere in the Commonwealth of Virginia. When I was growing up, the "doorway" to the retail core started with Murphys at 4th and Broad. Any trip downtown to go shopping usually began with a trek to Murphys, then it continued east on Broad to go to Woolworths. Both stores featured large basements that were a virtual kid heaven - because all the dollar-sale stuff and toys, etc., were usually in the basement. Those of us old enough to remember Woolworths and Murphys usually think of the one-story mall or shopping center retailers, but these stores downtown had (if I remember) at least 2 or 3 floors of shopping above ground - PLUS - a full basement. Their lunch counters were famous as well, not only for their cheap eats, but for being part and parcel part of sit-ins and demonstrations during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.

When I was growing up, these two stores were among my favorite places. The iterations at Southside Plaza, Willow Lawn or Azalea Mall were nice - but none of them held a candle compared to the stores downtown.

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Edited by I miss RVA
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No matter how you sliced it, the real meat and potatoes of downtown RVA's retail core - THE crown jewels - were the huge flagship stores of Thalhimer's and Miller & Rhoads. Like salt and pepper, mustard and ketchup, peanut butter and jelly - they went together - you really couldn't have one without the other. And that they were located on the same side of Broad, right across 6th Street from each other - essentially made the corner of 6th and Broad the nexus for retail shopping in Richmond - and for many decades - in all of Virginia.

My mom favored Thalhimer's. My aunt (her older sister) favored Miller & Rhoads. Yet - we all always shopped at both retailers. There was no such thing as going to one but not the other. It was almost mandatory that we had to visit both stores. While they weren't all there was to downtown RVA's amazing retailing core back then, it's fair to say that they were the twin pillars upon which the rest of the retail core was built. And until things started getting sideways in the '70s and '80s - and the stores' eventual sale(s) and ultimate closures - they were the solid foundation of the Broad/Grace corridor.

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Edited by I miss RVA
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There was nothing better than the holiday shopping season downtown - and the downtown Thalhimer's and Miller & Rhoads were the center of the universe for Richmond shoppers at that time of year for decades. Miller & Rhoads had the "real" Santa, while Thalhimer's had "legendary" Santa. For decades, there was a Macy's-type of parade (if I remember what my mother told me about it - held on Thanksgiving night) that came down Broad Street and ended at 6th and Broad - and Santa always went to Thalhimer's (perhaps they were one of the primary sponsors?) and greeted crowds from the balcony atop the clock on the corner at 6th and Broad.

 

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Especially from Thanksgiving onward, the stores were packed. Though, I seem to recall that the stores were packed no matter what time of  year, when I was a kid.

SOMEWHERE there exists a famous photo of a huge gaggle of shoppers at Thalhimer's during one of their many sales during the year - and my mother (when she was a very young woman - well before I was born) was actually in the photo. She picked herself out in the picture - and sure enough, it's her. I had found it years ago online, and I'm looking for it. I'm sure I'll find it at some point. 

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Edited by I miss RVA
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Thalhimer's had The Richmond Room on the fourth floor (we used to eat there ALLLLLLLLLLL the time) ... Miller & Rhoads had the Tea Room on the fifth floor - and it (: the M&R Tea Room) often featured fashion shows (at various points throughout the year) - and lunch patrons at the Tea Room were always graced by the amazing talents of legendary Richmond organist Eddie Weaver - he of the Byrd Theater organ fame. 

Since both stores also had major entrances on Grace - it was guaranteed that Grace Street wasn't left out as being a really happenin' place. Particularly with legendary clothier Berry Burk at 6th and Grace, Alan Furs in the 400 block of E. Grace and other specialty boutiques in the 300 and 400 blocks of E. Grace (such as Shields Shoes), the street had an 'upscale' feel to it - almost like a "mini Fifth Avenue" in a very Richmond kind of way.

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Edited by I miss RVA
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Indeed, the Broad/Grace corridor - downtown RVA's shining retail beacon - sadly is long gone. We'll likely never EVER see anything even close to such an amazing experience that was a huge part of the Richmond landscape for several generations. It was a retailing core with a depth and vibrancy that had the look and feel of cities significantly larger than Richmond -- giving RVA a "big-city" image even when the city's population didn't quite match up to the appearance. It was a retail core that, no doubt, many cities of similar size to RVA could only dream of having. All of the dynamics that made this part of the city come to life the way it did for as long as it did have long changed. But as we look to the future, we can hope that the new, bigger, and hopefully even better iteration of what RVA is becoming as she evolves and grows, will afford us with similar retailing cores, whether or not they are right on Broad Street, or in different parts of town such as Greater Scott's Addition. Hopefully not only a rapidly growing citywide population but particularly a rapidly growing downtown population will make it possible for retail to regain some of its former glory in the central city, whether in City Center, farther west toward Scott's, in Scotts, or somewhere else in the city proper. I was only a little kid when the core was still (more-or-less) in its heyday - and as I grew older, it declined, until by the time I was in undergrad in the '80s, things were going downhill on many levels. I'm grateful to have actually been around to see what that old core looked like while it was still in its glory. And I look forward to seeing what RVA will come up with - not to recreate the magic of the past - but to create and develop a new magic and a new energy that will propel the city even farther ahead, in making RVA one of the most attractive up-and-coming cities in which to work and live - and that it will go a long way to help attract new businesses and residents to the new RVA. 

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Can we trade mayors with nashville? I saw where they are landing oracles hq from California. Bringing 8600 jobs to nashville. That’s the kind of projects we need in Richmond where they bring thousands among thousands of jobs. Also can we give nashville our city council for there’s? They seem to seriously have it together compared to us and a lot of places. 

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1 hour ago, Downtowner said:

Can we trade mayors with nashville? I saw where they are landing oracles hq from California. Bringing 8600 jobs to nashville. That’s the kind of projects we need in Richmond where they bring thousands among thousands of jobs. Also can we give nashville our city council for there’s? They seem to seriously have it together compared to us and a lot of places. 

I posted this in response to your similar post over in the Dominion Tower thread - and it bears repeating as a response here:  The BIGGEST problem that holds RVA back in terms of competing with the Nashvilles and Raleighs of the world is that we lag WAY way behind those cities in the BIGGEST blue-chip recruitment tool - the airport. Even if everything else was equal, that RIC can't touch RDU or BNA, automatically puts us behind those cities and other cities that either have hubs, focus airports and/or at least significantly better direct service to a multitude of markets.  Let's let the data do the talking.

Pre-pandemic, when RIC was touting it had topped 4M passengers, RDU was at around 14M and BNA at more than 18M. THAT is the elephant in the room that needs to be addressed if RVA is going to be able to compete with those kinds of mid-level cities that are gobbling up big wins for companies like Amazon and Oracle. We fix that - everything else will begin to fall into place. Until we fix that, we will continue to lag behind those other cities that are obviously FAR more successful in landing the big fish that bring gobs of jobs and people. Without an airport that can compete with other mid-sized cities' airports, we will always be swimming upstream - and likely missing many of the big fish even as we collect lots of smaller fish.

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5 hours ago, I miss RVA said:

I posted this in response to your similar post over in the Dominion Tower thread - and it bears repeating as a response here:  The BIGGEST problem that holds RVA back in terms of competing with the Nashvilles and Raleighs of the world is that we lag WAY way behind those cities in the BIGGEST blue-chip recruitment tool - the airport. Even if everything else was equal, that RIC can't touch RDU or BNA, automatically puts us behind those cities and other cities that either have hubs, focus airports and/or at least significantly better direct service to a multitude of markets.  Let's let the data do the talking.

Pre-pandemic, when RIC was touting it had topped 4M passengers, RDU was at around 14M and BNA at more than 18M. THAT is the elephant in the room that needs to be addressed if RVA is going to be able to compete with those kinds of mid-level cities that are gobbling up big wins for companies like Amazon and Oracle. We fix that - everything else will begin to fall into place. Until we fix that, we will continue to lag behind those other cities that are obviously FAR more successful in landing the big fish that bring gobs of jobs and people. Without an airport that can compete with other mid-sized cities' airports, we will always be swimming upstream - and likely missing many of the big fish even as we collect lots of smaller fish.

I've actually heard RIC airport officials say the opposite - that with the growth of Richmond, the airport will likely see more air service.  You're saying the airport needs to grow first and then Richmond's growth will explode thereafter.  This is a classic case of the chicken and the egg.  Obviously, these are two completely opposite opinions.  So which is it really?  Does the airport need to land a hub/expand service significantly first or does the metro area need to grow/see significant economic growth to feed the airport's growth?  Just genuinely asking because I wonder which theory is really correct?

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