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Come see Church Hill in a new way, with Better Block project

PHOTO: Click to see enlarged

PHOTO: Click to see enlarged

RICHMOND, Va. — If you would like to participate in the renaissance of Richmond, an incredible two-day opportunity kick offs Friday and runs through Saturday, in Church Hill.

This is the very first, brand-spanking new experience for Richmond, but the movement to transform neighborhoods through the Better Block template has met with international success.

As part of the two-day event, vacant storefronts along N. 25th Street (between P St. and R St.) will be transformed with local “pop-up” shops and into a vibrant area for people to shop and socialize.  There will be music (NO BS Brass Band), food, shopping, murals, community education, and live performances (schedule below).

It’s not easy to explain.  What IS it? What IS Better Block?

The whole neighborhood will be mocked-up as the sort of neighborhood many would want to see — in a challenged area that is lacking investment.

It is a “temporary demonstration of what could be done in a two-block area with the right amount of investment and community involvement and engagement,” said Bike Walk RVA Director Max Buchanan, an organizer of the project.

Ok, so why was this neighborhood chosen?

This project is a basically an extension of the initiative started in June of 2010 with a week-long planning session organized by the City of Richmond, Bon Secours Richmond Health System and the Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority (RHHA). The resulting plan, focused on the city’s Nine Mile Road corridor, Church Hill and 25th Street, was designed to make the areas more desirable for residents, businesses and the community as a whole.

The project already kicked off back in March.  A group of nearly 100 residents and stakeholders showed up to begin laying out the groundwork. People have toured storefronts for pop-up shops and applications were submitted to host shops.

A lot of planning has gone into creating the temporary space, though the long-term transformation is the focus.

“It is all done with an eye on the permanent future,” said Buchanan.

So far more than 70 projects have been held around the United States and Buchanan said that more than 60 percent of those have created changes in the neighborhoods where they were held; whether it was traffic revisions, zoning changes or the like.

“Sometimes you don’t know how easy it is until you do it,” Buchanan said, acknowledging that they were able to cut through a lot of red tape as a part of the project, but that it’s important for the community to see the possibilities of their neighborhood.

So Friday and Saturday, you get to enjoy a public space in a way that you haven’t done before.

Ahead of the event is the East End Economic Summit, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., where City Councilwoman Cynthia Newbille and Mayor Dwight Jones will discuss the state of East End economic development and revitalization.

SCHEDULE

East End Economic Summit -3:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., Robinson Theater Community Arts Center –2903 Q Street

Organized by Bon Secours Richmond Health System, the East End Economic Summit is a progress update about East End economic development and revitalization. Along with Bon Secours Richmond Health System, the City of Richmond, the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, The Community Builders, Capital One, Mayor Dwight Jones and Richmond City Councilwoman Cynthia Newbille will participate. Jason Roberts, founder of The Better Block, will deliver the keynote address, ‘What is our Urban Legacy?’ Additional speakers include:

  • Dwight C. Jones, Mayor, City of Richmond
  • Cynthia Newbille, Councilwoman, 7th District, Richmond City Council
  • Peter J. Bernard, CEO, Bon Secours Virginia Health System
  • Adrienne Goolsby, CEO, Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority
  • Bart Mitchell, CEO, The Community Builders
  • Steve Gannon, Central Virginia Market President, Capital One

Church Hill North Better Block Project Launch Party – 5:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

Friday’s festivities will include:

  • Food truck court featuring local vendors and the Bon Secours Class-A-Roll mobile kitchen
  • Street performers from The Great Busk at the temporary outdoor theater at N. 25th St. and Venable St.
  • Pop-up shops along the 1000 block of N. 25th Street, and farmers market plazas with vendors at N. 25th Street and P Street, and N. 25th Street and Carrington Street
  • Enhanced streetscapes including parklets, new temporary crosswalks and bike lanes, and outdoor public gathering spaces
  • Public paintings, murals, and other art installations throughout the Better Block area provided by local artists, including Hamilton Glass, James Thornhill, and Ben Larsen.
  • Public showing of Disney’s animated hit movie ‘Frozen’ at N. 25th Street and Nine Mile Road (8:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.)

SATURDAY, JUNE 14

Church Hill North Better Block Project Day 2 – 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Saturday’s festivities will include:

  • 9:00 a.m.: Inaugural Better Block 5k – intersection of N. 25th Street and P Street (walk-up registration begins at 7:30 a.m.)
  • Food truck court
  • 10:00 a.m.: Partnership for Smarter Growth Community Walk and Talk along N. 25th Street (begins at East End Public Library, 1200 N. 25th Street)
  • Musical performances by local artists No BS! Brass Band (10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.) and Chicken Grease (1:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m.) at the outdoor stage at N. 25th Street and Venable Street
  • Pop-up shops along the 1000 block of N. 25th Street, and farmers market plazas with vendors at N. 25th Street and P Street, and N. 25th Street and Carrington Street
  • Enhanced streetscapes including parklets, new temporary crosswalks and bike lanes, and outdoor public gathering spaces
  • Public paintings, murals, and other art installations throughout the Better Block area provided by local artists, including Hamilton Glass, James Thornhill, and Ben Larsen.

Food truck vendors are providing affordable and healthy food options throughout the weekend.

Friday:

  • Food trucks: RVA Vegan, Estes BBQ House, Soul Ice, Bon Secours Class-A-Roll Mobile Kitchen
  • Pop-up shops at 1000 N 25th St, 1008 N 25th St, 1005/1007 N 25th St, and farmers market plazas with vendors at N 25th St and P St, and N 25th St and Carrington St – selling clothes, jewelry, crafts, cosmetics, art, coffee and pastries.

Saturday:

  • Food trucks: RVA Vegan, MOSAIC, Slideways Mobile Bistro, Thai Cabin, Bon Secours Class-A-Roll Mobile Kitchen
  • Pop-up shops at 1000 N 25th St, 1008 N 25th St, 1005/1007 N 25th St, and farmers market plazas with vendors at N 25th St and P St, and N 25th St and Carrington St – selling clothes, jewelry, crafts, cosmetics, art, coffee and pastries

For updates and more information, please visit http://teambetterblock.com/richmond/, “LIKE” Better Block RVA on Facebook, or “Follow” Bike Walk RVA on Twitter.

Read more about Better Block projects here. 

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