Arts district aims to revitalize Broad Street | News
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT)- If you've ever wondered how Richmond will be able to revitalize the rundown sections of the Broad Street corridor downtown, City leaders said an ordinance designating the area as an "arts and cultural district" is the answer.
June's First Fridays Art Walk will go through the area Friday night. We're told the popularity of that event was the tipping point for creating this designation. It's supposed to improve the character of the heart of Richmond, by building on what's already here.
It's an area with a long history of up and downs. Once the city's main commercial corridor, it is now a rundown part of town where stores open up and shut down as quickly as the seasons change. Over the past few years, arts venues have struggled to gain a foothold.
Often you see a clean, working gallery and right next door is the exact opposite, a vacant, beat up storefront.
This new designation reinforces the area's identity. It provides financial incentives to businesses that set up shop here, a waiver of some fees, marketing money and expedited permit reviews. Mayor Dwight Jones believes this will attract developers and build capacity.
"We've put together some incentives to help people who want to move into that area and hopefully the end result will be a more enthusiastic arts community, but also an improved Broad Street," he said.
That improvement will expand as the outer arts district area also revitalizes.
"We're on the cusp of something big in this city and if we can get the core, this downtown area, up and running, that will only pour over into the neighborhoods and we'll see a better Richmond in total," explained Councilman Charles Samuels, who represents the area.
It will be a Richmond with an increased tax base as visitors spend their dollars here.
"This will cause people from around the region to travel to downtown Richmond as a destination for making their lives better," CultureWorks' John Bryan said.
A new state law allows Virginia cities to create more than one arts district in a city or county. Samuels hopes the Broad Street designation will be a model for other parts of the city.
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