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A new car-lite neighborhood is coming to Richmond

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Not known for throngs of sports fans, Richmond has probably spent more time over the past decades discussing the fate of its ballpark than it has the performance of its local team: the Flying Squirrels. Despite the Squirrels enjoying an unusually successful season in 2022, the statement holds true this year as well as the City Council just selected a development team for a $2.4 billion reimagining of the Diamond District — today a desolate collection of parking lots that could begin transforming into a dense, walkable urban neighborhood as soon as this coming spring.

Housing for whomst?

The yearlong process to choose a development team may have felt long to locals; however, previous attempts to sell off the site in 2007 and 2016 floundered before they finished. This time around a 2025 deadline set by Minor League Baseball to offer the Squirrels a new stadium or risk the team’s relocation to another city lit a fire under Richmond officials’ efforts at redevelopment.

By the end of the site’s fourth and final phase of redevelopment over 3,000 new housing units will have been built across the Diamond District’s 67 acres. Should all go according to plan, Phase I — the portion of the project over which current city officials will have the most control — will bring online the first 1,000 units of housing.

90 two over two condos will be available for purchase with 18 of those units designated affordable and set aside for people earning 60-70% of the area’s average median income. To assist those 18 households with down payments, closing costs, and other fees, the development team, RVA Diamond Partners, will set aside $1 million.

20% of the 910 rental units will be set aside for Richmond residents earning 30-60% AMI. The number of apartments available to people with project-based vouchers has yet to be determined, a key question as the city actively demolishes one of its six remaining public housing courts.

In addition to all of the housing in Phase I, by the start of 2027 the Diamond District should also boast a 180 room hotel, all the necessary roads and utilities, and four acres of new park space divided between the planned crescent park connecting the new neighborhood to the Science Museum and a pocket park between residential buildings.

As the area is zoned Transit Oriented Development-1, only one parking space per unit will be required for all the new housing. The Diamond District will, however, host 1,700 structured parking spots per the city’s request.

“The site will have a shared parking strategy so that office users share their parking with baseball stadium visitors so we aren’t building a lot of parking for one single use,” explained Maritza Pechin, Richmond’s deputy director for the Office of Equitable Development. “The parking structures will be fully financed by the private sector because we didn’t want any part of building, owning, or managing parking structures.”

A rendering of a revamped Diamond District. Image courtesy of the City of Richmond.

A car-lite community

Currently the area around the baseball stadium proves treacherous to navigate outside of a car. Solely on the bridge over the railroad tracks to Scott’s Addition the speed limit actually increases from 25 mph to 35 mph — a status quo as dangerous as it is puzzling. Although the Department of Public Works has the final say on all speed limits in the city, Pechin promises to use a recently received RAISE Grant from the US Department of Transportation “to ensure a much better pedestrian and biking experience across the Arthur Ashe Bridge.”

The aim for the area is to provide safe and seamless walking and biking connections between the Diamond District and all its surrounding neighborhoods and destinations.

“We want to make sure people are moving between Scott’s Addition and the Diamond District easily without a car so they can spend money in both areas,” added Pechin. “That means making the interior of the Diamond District and everything that feeds into it a really safe area with better connections. The biggest challenge will be how do we work with VDOT to redesign those off ramps [from I-95 and I-64 that feed car traffic onto the Boulevard]. There is no reason why anyone who lives close to the Diamond is driving to baseball games.”

Today the closest frequent transit route to the new neighborhood is a 15-20 minute walk away at the Scott’s Addition or Science Museum Pulse stations. The Greater Richmond Transit Company’s routes 14 and 20 both serve the site, but neither bus comes more than once a half hour.

Those unfortunate frequencies could increase with the coming density, hinted Pechin: “There is not enough population along the 20 right now to support the 15 minute frequency envisioned [in the 2018 Transit Development Plan]. The goal is for the 20 to be a much more frequent bus and to bring it through this project.”

The developer is particularly partial to microtransit solutions; however, residents and visitors alike won’t feel safe scooting or biking in and out of the area until a network of protected paths or bike lanes have been established. Currently the area has little more than a few sharrows on Hermitage Road.

To incentivize the parts of the new neighborhood not included in the deal on the other side of the Boulevard and bounded by the train tracks, Westwood Avenue, and I-95/64 to become more walkable, livable spaces, the city rezoned the western half of the area to B-7. This residential and light manufacturing designation allows up to seven stories of housing as well as breweries and makers spaces to coexist as they do currently in Manchester.

Projects along the Boulevard immediately across from the Diamond District approved before the rezoning include a new gas station, a car wash, and three drive throughs side by side. Pechin promises such proposals won’t be approved under the new zoning.

All four phases of the Diamond District likely won’t be completed before 2035 depending on the market; however, the high number of developers interested in taking on the redevelopment is a good sign, according to Pechin: “The reason Richmond got so many submissions for this site is people realize this is a growing city; people want to be here long-term, and we’re an increasingly desirable place to live.”

Top image: Richmond’s Diamond is the site of a new $2.4 billion dollar redevelopment deal. (Wyatt Gordon)

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diannemharris
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They Were Entitled to Free Care. Hospitals Hounded Them to Pay. - The New York Times

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acdha
3 days ago
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From being founded by nuns to having McKinsey cook up ways to send Medicare patients to collections, a heartwarming American story.
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diannemharris
3 days ago
Heartwarming -> from an untreated infection?!
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He stole from the poor, and gave to the rich. Stupid bitch!

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Another guilty plea in the Real Welfare Cheats of Mississippi case. I hope Gov. Phil Bryant, Tater Reeves and Former #4 are shitting themselves inside out and getting ulcers.

According to court documents, John Davis, 54, of Jackson, Mississippi, and his co-conspirators fraudulently obtained and misused federal funds – including funds from two programs, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) – for their personal use and benefit. At Davis’s direction, MDHS provided federal funds to two nonprofit organizations and then directed the two nonprofit organizations to fraudulently award contracts to various entities and individuals for social services that were never provided.

Wait, you mean all that talk about poor people being lazy, no-account criminals who want government handouts is … projection???!?!

In addition, Davis caused the nonprofit organizations to disburse full or almost-full payments pursuant to those sham contracts at or near the beginning of the contract periods, regardless of whether any work had been performed and knowing that no significant services would be provided.

Mississippi has the highest overall poverty rate and the highest poverty rate for children in the nation. I guess the fucking parasites who took food from their mouths figured that since people were already poor, a little more couldn’t hurt.

Davis faces a minimum of five and a maximum of 10 years for the federal crime. A bagatelle compared to 32 years in a state prison.

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Train hits Platteville police vehicle on tracks; woman seriously hurt

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acdha
11 days ago
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The worst part about this is the likelihood that the cops will get off because there’s no official policy saying you can’t tie suspects to the train tracks
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6 days ago
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Parents, students complain East Baton Rouge schools field trip was more like church service | Education | theadvocate.com

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More than 2,100 students from Baton Rouge high schools were excused from classes Tuesday morning and hopped on school buses to attend what was billed as a “College & Career Fair.”

Some students, however, came away from this districtwide field trip upset, saying what they participated in felt more like a church service.

“The majority of students chose to attend this field trip on the promise of free food and the opportunity to skip class, however the majority of students were not only disappointed by this event, but traumatized as well," Alexis Budyach, a senior at Baton Rouge Magnet High, wrote in a Facebook post.

Budyach is one of several students who took to social media after Tuesday’s event, which was called a “Day of Hope” and held at Living Faith Christian Center. Several parents and even a teacher whose child attended the event went online to register their discontent.

In response to the concerns, the East Baton Rouge Parish school system issued a statement late Wednesday defending the event as “an elevation of a traditional college and career fair.” The statement also defended the school district’s partnership with the local nonprofit that put on the event, 29:11 Mentoring Families, saying the group is providing “additional support services for students in our district.”

“We look forward to seeing what our over 2,100 student participants will continue to achieve with the resources and knowledge gained from this event,” according to the statement.

Superintendent Sito Narcisse did promotions in advance of the Day of Hope event and spoke briefly to the students who attended.

Brittney Byrant, a biology teacher at Woodlawn High and the mother of a senior at the school, was one of those who took to Facebook to register her concerns. She’d learned the day before that she was serving as a chaperone for the event, accompanying her child. Bryant particularly objected to the organizer’s decision to separate the audience by gender and have the girls listen to a series of emotional talks from three female speakers.

“They talked about rape (and) forgiving the offender, suicide, prayer leadership, and many more dark controversial topics. We had females in the bathrooms crying due to the topics of discussion,” Bryant wrote.

Her transgender child, who identifies as “he,” tried to walk out as the “girl talk” started and was initially barred from leaving, the mother said. Bryant said she also heard that other transgender students were bullied Tuesday.

“Other students poured water on top of transgender students' heads without any repercussions by any of the adults present,” Bryant wrote.

Bryant listened to the “girl talk” segment. Then she stayed to listen to the boys' much different “real talk” session. 

“From the beginning no topics were discussed but (they) began male chauvinistic competition for monetary reward for winners,” Bryant wrote. “Then proceeded to compete for push-ups for more money. They were hyped up and egged on.”

Reached by The Advocate, Bryant said she worries she’ll face repercussions for speaking out, but said she felt it was the right thing to do.

“I just want to bring to light what happened with the kids and the feelings they had,” she said.

She acknowledged there were students who probably liked what they heard, but for others the day was traumatizing.

The Day of Hope event attracted students, mostly seniors, from across the East Baton Rouge Parish school system. It was organized by 29:11 Mentoring Families, a nonprofit group in Baton Rouge led by Tremaine Sterling. The name of the organization is reference to a biblical verse in the Book of Jeremiah.

In an email, Sterling said his organization has been holding events like the Day of Hope for students in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas for over 10 years. This year, he said, they moved it from Bethany North to Living Faith. The focus, he said, is providing “resources and tools to young people as they prepare for their next steps after high school.

“We’ve received countless messages online and in person of support and appreciation for this event from attendees, and we are excited to continue offering this event in the future,” Sterling wrote.

Lesliana Coleman was one of the students who enjoyed Thursday’s event.

“It was amazing. I loved it,” Coleman said. “There were like no fights. There were students from all the high schools all together.”

Coleman, a senior at McKinley High, said she was not bothered by the talks she heard during the “girl talk” segment, finding them by turns instructive and inspiring.

Coleman said she was not surprised to hear such frank talk or to be separated by gender. She said Sterling came to McKinley earlier this month and gave out additional information letting her and other students know what was going to be discussed and that it was occurring at a church.

“If I’m walking into a church, I know we’re going to be talking about something,” she said.

Alexis Budyach’s mother, Bonnie Kersch, said neither she nor her child had any idea the Day of Hope event was occurring at a church.

“She felt she was duped into thinking that she was going for a college and career fair, that she was proselytized over and prayed over,” Kersch said.

The flyer that she received beforehand listed the address for the event, 6375 Winbourne Ave., but did not make clear that that’s the address for Living Faith. If she had known that, she said, she would not have signed the permission form.

“Do I have to Google everything?” wondered Kersch.

In her Facebook post, Budyach, like Bryant, questioned the “girl talk” portion of the event. The third speaker, a mother who recounted finding her son dead after a suicide, hit far too close to home for Budyach, who has a grandfather who years ago killed himself.

“For the third time, a possibly useful message (was) hidden behind an extremely traumatizing account of a day that we had no warning or idea that we were going to learn about,” Budyach wrote.

Trey Holiday, a senior at Woodlawn High, said he found the college and career part — a series of tents set up outdoors for students visit as they choose — lacking, with too few colleges and programs in attendance, a feeling he said was shared by other Woodlawn students he spoke to.

“It kind of felt more like a spiritual event than a career and college fair,” Holiday said.

And he said he too was struck by the difference in what he heard later from the female students who attended.

“We boys all we did was do push-ups, we played games, we got money for the games we played,” he said. “It was a bunch of things that were very different, very sexist (compared to what the girls experienced).”

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acdha
7 days ago
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Rapist forgiveness training brought to you by the people who call everyone else groomers
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diannemharris
6 days ago
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For Once, California Might Choose More Housing Over More Parking

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OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 12: California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a visit to Chabot Space & Science Center with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on August 12, 2022 in Oakland, California. Kamala Harris wrapped up a two day trip to Northern California with a tour of the Chabot Space & Science Center. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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