Whether it’s wayfinding, beautification, or turning parking spaces into gathering places, we have a hand in placemaking efforts throughout downtown Richmond. “Placemaking” is a people-centered approach to the planning, design, creation, and management of public spaces. For us, an effective placemaking process results in inviting and well-maintained public spaces that contribute to downtown Richmond’s health, happiness, and well-being. We do this in small- and large-scale ways like film screenings in outdoor public spaces, decorative street banners, beautification along the Canal Walk and some of our downtown streets, advocating for accessible transportation and multi-modal options for all, and collaborating with community partners on long-term planning for downtown and riverfront public space.
We are constantly working on ideas and projects to improve the quality of life and place in downtown Richmond. Stay tuned for updates on new projects!
Brown’s Island, located on the James River, has the potential to be the crown jewel of the downtown Richmond riverfront. In 2012, City Council adopted the Richmond Riverfront Plan, which made recommendations to transform Brown's Island into a daily destination for recreation, exploration, socializing, and experiencing the beauty of the James River, as well as music and cultural events.
The Brown’s Island Improvement Plan is a more detailed conceptual plan developed by Venture Richmond and 3north to help the City of Richmond implement the Richmond Riverfront Plan recommendations for Brown’s Island. Brown’s Island should be attractive and comfortable for every Richmond resident and visitor, both during events and as a public park all other days of the year. While the 2016 opening of the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge has dramatically increased visitation to the island—approximately 500,000 crossings per year—the rest of the island also needs improved amenities to accommodate this increased demand.
The Brown’s Island Improvement Plan received conceptual approval from the City Planning Commission in December 2019. Venture Richmond is committed to raising private funds to implement the Riverfront Plan recommendations for Brown’s Island, which include river and canal terraces, play spaces for children, more trees and landscaping, more ADA accessibility and other pedestrian improvements, shade, seating, and running water/permanent restrooms among other amenities.
Starting in the spring of 2021, the City of Richmond began installing prefabricated parklets at different locations across the city. This pilot program gives us an opportunity to try parklets on for size as a way of providing more urban public space and supporting small businesses by offering people a place to enjoy pre-purchased take-out meals (table service is not available in public parklets, but people are allowed to eat their take-out meals in them).
The parklets were purchased by the City using federal CARES Act money and locations were identified through the Picnic in a Parklet program, a partnership between the City of Richmond and Venture Richmond. The locations currently include:
The intersection of Brook Road and W Marshall Street now hosts a three-part placemaking project consisting of a custom-designed parklet, pedestrian plaza, and intersection mural designed to provide space for community gatherings and art appreciation.
Designed by local firm Walter Parks Architects, this is the first custom-designed public parklet built in the City of Richmond. Located outside of ART 180, it will provide safe space for participants in the nonprofit’s youth programming to gather before and after class, and is open to the general public as well. Local artist Chris Visions designed the mural, which references the rich history of Jackson Ward and the neighborhood’s enduring mission to carry on a legacy of Black excellence. The design is based on the Sankofa, an Andikra symbol from Ghana meaning “to go back and retrieve/get,” and the colors echo the red, black and green of the Pan-African flag. ART 180 youth painted the mural as part of the culmination of their Community Program earlier this fall.
The plaza is a result of reclaiming unused public space in front of Gallery 5 and restoring the historic bricks that existed beneath the asphalt. Artist Chris Visions created an artistic extension of the intersection mural into the plaza space and Venture Richmond provided bike racks for people visiting Gallery 5, ART 180, and neighboring businesses and residents. The Broad Street Task Force, a group of proponents of Richmond’s Downtown convened by the mayor, shared that residents want more vibrant spaces to gather in the area. This, alongside an Asphalt Art Initiative placemaking grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the advocacy of community partners, acted as a catalyst for this new public space placemaking project at the intersection of Brook and Marshall.
City of Richmond staff from Planning and Development Review, the Department of Public Works, the Department of Public Utilities and the Public Art Commission worked alongside Venture Richmond to make the project possible. Additional project partners include ART 180, Big Secret, CB Chandler Construction, Cite Design, Gallery 5, LaDiff, Richmond Toolbank, Vanderbilt Properties, and Walter Parks Architects.
Started in San Francisco in 2005, Park(ing) Day is a global event that occurs annually on the third Friday of September, aimed at reclaiming on-street parking spaces by temporarily transforming them into exciting and imaginative park spaces, or “parklets.”
In 2019, we sponsored a Park(ing) Day design/build competition that featured over 20 pop-up parklets designed and built by creatives, architects, local businesses, and community members. The contest entries were judged and awarded by a panel of notable Richmonders, with the winner receiving funding assistance for a more permanent installation, coming soon. You can read more about the 2019 event here.
Since Park(ing) Day 2019, five parklets have been installed throughout Richmond as a result of our Picnic in a Parklet program and you can visit them today.
If you would like to participate in Park(ing) Day next September by building a temporary pop-up parklet for the day, please reach out to Yessenia Revilla at the City of Richmond for guidance: Yessenia.Revilla@richmondgov.com.
Street pole banners may not seem like a big deal, but they are a big part of our job at Venture Richmond and our own creative way to add color and excitement to downtown. We are responsible for managing the banner program, and close to 200 banner poles, on behalf of the city. Our RVA Creates A to Z campaign is a celebration of our vibrant community that was inspired by the incredible range of creativity that exists downtown.
In partnership with Sports Backers’ Bike Walk RVA program, we have purchased and installed several high-capacity bike racks throughout downtown Richmond.
If you would like to request a bike rack for your block, or have questions about existing racks, please contact Max Hepp-Buchanan.
Venture Richmond maintains gateway beautification projects for the City, including weeding, watering and installing seasonal plants. Beautification projects include: 155 sidewalk and median planters, 126 hanging baskets, and 13 planting beds throughout downtown and along the Canal Walk. Learn more about downtown beautification efforts and the Clean, Safe & Green program.
Don’t forget, if you’re making the trek to the downtown Richmond area, be sure to check out our downtown Richmond Parking and Transportation Guide to figure out the best way to get around!