Author: Trevor Dickerson

PHOTOS: Arthur Ashe Boulevard Renaming Kick-Off Party at River City Roll

Hundreds of folks came out Friday, June 21st for the Arthur Ashe Boulevard Kick-Off Celebration at River City Roll. The entire evening was a benefit for the Metro Richmond Tennis Club and raised over $10,000 for the organization.

A huge thanks goes out to everyone who sponsored a lane or made other contributions towards this worthy local cause, and more than that, all of those who helped make the vision of renaming the Boulevard for Arthur Ashe a reality. It took a lot of time, effort, and hard work, and we made it happen together.

(Photos: Michael Way Photography)

Join Us For a Weekend of Events Celebrating the Renaming of Arthur Ashe Boulevard Beginning Friday at River City Roll

The Arthur Ashe Boulevard Initiative will sponsor a three-day celebration honoring tennis great Arthur Ashe. Citizens, leaders, community organizers, and Ashe family members will commemorate the naming of Arthur Ashe Boulevard in Richmond on June 20th through 22nd – and the Scott’s Addition Boulevard Association is taking part in a big way, hosting our own kick-off celebration Friday evening.

In addition to an official sign unveiling to re-name the roughly 2.5-mile Boulevard in honor of the late tennis champion, the celebratory events will re-introduce Ashe’s inspiring life story to Richmond and offer a variety of family-friendly events.

The official dedication and street unveiling ceremony, sponsored by the City of Richmond, Dominion Energy, and the Virginia Museum of History & Culture (VMHC), will be held at Saturday, June 22, at 11 a.m. at the VMHC.

National, state and local elected leaders will be in attendance and participate in the dedication ceremony, along with Ashe family representatives. Civil rights leader and U.S. Rep. John R. Lewis, (D-Ga.) will deliver the keynote address.

“We’re thrilled to name Dominion Energy as our presenting sponsor for our weekend celebration, as we officially rename the Boulevard after my uncle, said David Harris, nephew of the late Arthur Ashe and a key driver in the Boulevard’s renaming. “Together, we’ll celebrate Ashe’s achievements both on and off the tennis court. My uncle’s incredible legacy transcended sports and is tied to foundational roots of Richmond. With Dominion Energy’s support and others, we’re putting a stake in the ground for Arthur Ashe’s legacy of social justice for generations to come.”

“This is a great step forward for Richmond to honor Arthur Ashe in a bold way,” said Tom Farrell, chairman and CEO of Dominion Energy. “We’re proud to be part of it, and to celebrate our hometown with friends, neighbors, and the Ashe family.”

The company’s sponsorship is being provided through the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation.

The latest schedule of community events—all of which are free, family-friendly and open to the public include:

  • Arthur Ashe Boulevard Social Justice Forum, Thursday, June 20, 7-9 p.m., Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Learn about social justice and find out how it was part of Arthur Ashe’s legacy.
  • Arthur Ashe Boulevard Tennis Tournament & Movies at the Park, Friday, June 21, 6-9 p.m., Byrd Park. Join local tennis organizations in celebration of Ashe’s sport; stick around for an evening of movies and other festivities.
  • Arthur Ashe Boulevard Kick-off Celebration & Bowling Party, Friday, June 21, 7 p.m. to midnight, River City Roll. Enjoy kids and family bowling night (7-9 p.m.) as well as live music (9 p.m. to midnight) at this Scott’s Addition bowling alley along Arthur Ashe Boulevard. Donations suggested.
  • Arthur Ashe Boulevard Unveiling Ceremony & Exhibition Opening, Saturday, June 22, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Virginia Museum of History and Culture. Join us as we make history with the City of Richmond; A-list celebrities, city officials, and government dignitaries will officially unveil the re-named Boulevard.
  • Arthur Ashe Boulevard Community Celebration, Saturday, June 22, 1-5 p.m., Arthur Ashe Jr. Athletic Center. Celebrate with the community and participate in sponsored tennis clinics for kids and adults.
  • Arthur Ashe Boulevard After Party, Saturday, June 22, 8-11 p.m., The Graduate Richmond: the official Arthur Ashe Boulevard Celebration host. Cap off three days of excitement around Arthur Ashe and the City of Richmond.

To learn more about Arthur Ashe Boulevard or the schedule of events, visit arthurasheblvd.com.

Parking & Circulation Study: Where We’ve Been, What’s Been Recommended, and Where We Go From Here

With the tremendous growth that’s taken place in Scott’s Addition over the past five to seven years, the neighborhood has experienced a number of growing pains. As development has become denser, thanks in part to a rezoning that took place in 2017 that reduced the parking requirement for new development, parking (and lack thereof) is a pressing concern. I wanted to take a few moments to catch everyone up on the process to address these concerns, what has been done so far, and where we go from here.

Where we started

We began working with the City of Richmond and their contractor, DESMAN, on a parking and circulation study beginning in mid-2018 (see the goals of the study here). This study took a look at the entirety of Scott’s Addition and then broke down the projected need for parking, block by block, using drones and people on feet walking the neighborhood to produce two sets of data. The idea behind this was to get a snapshot of parking utilization during a peak weekday time and peak weekend time, as seen below.

ScottsAddition_June13_ParkingMaps_11X17

The data, which was presented at two public meetings in order to garner feedback from stakeholders, shows that some blocks are at 90% utilization at these two measurement points, but much of the neighborhood has adequate parking available at the current time. However, we plan for the future as best we can knowing that denser, taller development is coming to Scott’s Addition and that our neighborhood could, and probably will, look much different in the coming years.

General findings

DESMAN noted the following observations and heard the following top concerns as they conducted the parking and circulation study:

Top observations

  1. Heavy on-street overall utilization at mid-day (88%) on weekdays and over parking on various blocks in the mornings and weekends, according to land uses.
  2. Comparatively low utilization of off-street parking (36-49% overall) with only about 20% of all facilities operating at or near effective capacity.
  3.  On weekends, on-street utilization climbed through the days (55% in the morning, 71% in the afternoon) to peak at 120% of effective capacity (1,599 cars vs. 1,336 spaces.) [Potential displacement of 263 vehicles if properly marked and enforced.]
  4.  On the same weekday, there were between 2,245 and 2,393 off-street spaces open.
  5.  Many vehicles parked in places where parking should not be allowed (i.e. abandoned curb cuts, fire hydrants, into intersections, etc.)
  6.  No on-street handicapped parking spaces. [2% off-street standard would require ~ 31 spaces.]

Top feedback received

  1. Concerns regarding on-street parking practices and enforcement.
  2.  Zoning does not seem to be requiring enough parking to support new uses as they are introduced.
  3.  Curbside turnover and availability is a major concern for businesses in the area.
  4.  Lack of designated parking for area employees and/or residents if curbside parking is restricted.
  5.  Desire to see infrastructure improvements to support walking and biking through the area.
  6.  Short-term desire for structured parking through a Public/Private Partnership.
  7.  General acknowledgment that long-term growth will need to less car-centric, more focused on live-work or alternative transportation modes.

Based on these observations and concerns that were heard, DESMAN put together a list of possible options to help mitigate the parking and circulation issues in the neighborhood and presented their findings in January of 2019.

SA_Presentation_190116

Current tentative recommendations

Based on observations, resident and business feedback at the public meetings, and input from the City of Richmond, DESMAN has stated that they are recommending the following three items for our neighborhood’s consideration. These have not been officially delivered to the City of Richmond nor to our association but an official presentation will be made in the coming months. It is important to note that none of these changes will be made immediately, if at all, and we are very interested in hearing and answering your questions, comments, and concerns.

Institute three-hour parking neighborhood-wide

DESMAN recommends we institute three-hour parking throughout the entirety of the neighborhood to help with turnover of parking in the neighborhood and open up spaces. Obviously, this is not a one-size-fits-all solution and will not work for the entire neighborhood. If this were to be implemented (between the hours of 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM), it would be done sensitively and carefully to ensure businesses and residents aren’t negatively affected. There is a possibility that we will consider issuing parking permits to allow for around-the-clock parking on a case-by-case basis as well.

Create shared parking agreements

Another recommendation, which is something we are already actively pursuing, is shared parking agreements between lot owners and those in search of parking spaces. We are in talks with several vendors who specialize in these types of arrangements already. Think of this type of setup as the “Uber” of parking. Let’s say a residential building owner has a parking lot that sits two-thirds empty during the day when many residents are at work. A neighboring office user may want to come to an agreement with the lot owner to use a portion of these open spaces. Likewise, the same owner could offer individual spaces for rent during the day to the public through a mobile app that allows for on-demand reservations. There are a lot of opportunities to open up additional parking inventory under a scenario like this, and we’ll continue to explore our options.

Offer tax abatements for structured parking

As the neighborhood grows and new high rises go up around Scott’s Addition, there is also an opportunity to offer developers tax abatements for allocating a portion of structured parking in their respective buildings to the public (for a fee). There is an existing precedent for this type of scenario in other neighborhoods, so we believe we could institute this here successfully.

Things we can do on our own

There are also a number of things we can do on our own to increase our parking inventory and make for a safer neighborhood, which we’re currently exploring. They include:

  • Filling in curb cuts near bay doors that are no longer used for loading zones
  • Updating, replacing, and/or removing outdated parking enforcement signage
  • Striping available street parking to show acceptable parking bounds and keep the line of sight clear at street corners

Where we go from here

At this point, we’re waiting for the official documents from DESMAN with recommendations on parking going forward, and we’ll share those documents here when we have them. We also plan to host another public meeting or two to take feedback from businesses, residents, and other stakeholders before we go forth with any changes to our current parking setup. Then, and only then, will we announce possible changes that will affect the neighborhood. In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you. Please submit your questions, comments, and concerns to us here.

First ever “RVA Fit-Give” will see area fitness studios support Massey Cancer Center

This Saturday, area fitness studios are teaming up for the first-ever RVA FitGive, an initiative that aims to raise $50,000 for VCU’s Massey Cancer Center.

Seven local fitness studios will team up to hold 12 hours of simultaneous classes and raise the funds.

Launched by local fitness entrepreneurs, the RVA FitGive is Richmond’s first-ever 12-hour fitness event to support VCU Massey Cancer Center. 5:00 AM until 6:00 PM, seven different fitness studios will host donation-based classes to support cancer research all in one day.

Participating studios include Pure Barre Midlothian, Pure Barre Richmond Near West End, Turn RVA, Endorphasm, FLOW Cycle, GS Nation, and the November Project. Turn, locally owned, operates in Scott’s Addition.

It all takes place this Saturday, December 1st.

For a minimum donation of $25, you can take a class at any participating studio. You can also donate online here.

Tazza launching The Big Kitchen, a drive-thru, gourmet food to go concept in Scott’s Addition

Tazza Kitchen, the local restaurant chain with six locations–including one that opened last December on Roseneath Road Scott’s Addition–is doubling down in the neighborhood with a forthcoming gourmet to-go concept on Altamont Avenue.

The Big Kitchen, as the new business will be known, may sound familiar. It’s been the home and namesake of Tazza’s test and prep kitchen for all of its area locations since last year.

Danielle Goodreau, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Chicago, will serve as The Big Kitchen’s Executive Chef and will assist in recipe development company-wide. You may remember her from Rancho T or The Sharper Palate.Now, the restaurant is opening the operation to the public in a drive-thru-type operation. Think of it as Brew Thru for freshly-made prepared foods to take home or serve to a large group. The restaurant will also offer delivery.

No word on when The Big Kitchen will officially open, we’re hearing it will be sometime this fall.

In the meantime, you can sign up for updates on the business’s opening on their website.

The Big Kitchen is located at 1600 Altamont Avenue in Scott’s Addition.