The General District and Riverfront Overlay Districts

In 1990, the City of Richmond established the Downtown General Special Service and Assessment District to provide special enhanced services in Downtown. The primary district is known as the General District and a map of the area is below. There are also Riverfront Overlay Districts which include the properties along the riverfront and generally south of Byrd Street.

Special Service and Assessment Districts, as they are named in Virginia, are similar to Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) which exist in many cities in the United States and around the world.

The funding for Richmond’s Downtown enhanced services is provided through a public-private partnership between Venture Richmond and the City of Richmond. The City’s share of the program comes from annual Municipal Services grants, which is the public sector investment. The private sector investment comes from the assessments paid by property owners within the Districts.

In Richmond’s General District, comprised of about 440 square blocks on the north side of the river and roughly 82 square blocks on the south side of the river, the property and business owners within the District pay a special assessment of $0.05/$100 of assessed value. In the Riverfront Overlay Districts, there are several districts, and the property and business owners pay an additional special assessment ranging from $0.035/$100 of assessed value to $0.11/$100 of assessed value.

Venture Richmond is under contract with the City of Richmond to manage the districts and provide enhanced services to Downtown and the Riverfront. Those services include:

  • Providing the Clean and Safe program (sidewalk cleaning, litter and leaf collection, tree well maintenance, weed eradication, etc.
  • Activating, managing, and beautifying public spaces (Brown’s Island and Canal Walk), landscaping, planters, hanging baskets, etc.)
  • Marketing and promoting Downtown and its neighborhoods as a place to live, work, play and invest.
  • Neighborhood placemaking enhancements (bike racks, murals, parklets, etc.)
  • Promoting economic development and tracking the investment in Downtown
  • Producing festivals and events that drive visitors to Downtown neighborhoods

Venture Richmond is Downtown’s “Chief Champion” and has worked for decades on Downtown’s transformation. The company represents the merger of prior Downtown organizations: Richmond Renaissance, City Celebrations, Richmond Riverfront Corporation and River District Alliance.

For more information and context on how other US cities manage and run their special assessment districts, read this informative article from the International Downtown Association.