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‘View that named Richmond’ saved as City Council approves zoning change

RICHMOND, Va. – The neighborhood association that previously fought to preserve a historical view supported the zoning change approved Monday night by City Council, which will allow for a five-story development along Main Street.

Developers Louis Salomonsky and David White previously proposed a 16-story condo development at 2801 E. Main Street, at the end of Tobacco Row and at the bottom of Libby Hill Park.

The first plan was met with vigorous neighborhood opposition and withdrawn in 2014.

“Our primary interest has always been to preserve the view of the James River from Libby Hill Park,” ‎said President of the Church Hill Association John Sieg. “That vista, as you may know, is the view that inspired naming our city Richmond.”

This plaque can be found on Libby Hill below the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. It is believed that William Byrd II, who founded our fair city, was inspired by Richmond-upon-Thames in England when naming Richmond, Virginia. The view on the plaque is similar to the view overlooking the James.

The approved zoning change is from M-1 industrial to mixed use B-5, which means the height of the new development is capped at 60 feet.

The rezoning contains three conditions; a minimum of one parking space per apartment, a predominantly glass and brick exterior and a minimum of one window per apartment.

The .746-acre parcel is located on the block bounded by East Main Street to the north and east, railroad tracks to the south, and Peach Street to the east. The property is occupied by a small one-story building and surface parking.

The previous, 16-story proposal.

A scenic easement will be provided on the current Peach Street property, Sieg said. “We are confident the precious view of the James River will be preserved by limiting the height of construction on Pear Street and preserving the Peach Street property viewshed.”

“It was wonderful to see people from across the region demonstrate their value for protecting the view that named Richmond,” Sieg said. “Without their support we believe it would have been much more difficult to get the Principal to scale back the Pear Street construction and preserve the view of the James.”

Sieg also mentioned plans for the developing Pulse Corridor and continuing to the fight for preservation of Richmond’s history.

“Their plans could influence zoning and height restrictions along East Main Street and in surrounding areas,” Sieg said.  “We will participate as much as allowed in their planning process and we will resist any actions that would detract from the historic nature of our broader community or infringe on the viewshed from Libby Hill Park.”