Venture Richmond And Local Media Ignoring Concerns On Amphitheater Rezoning

Last week, there was a Richmond Symphony stage put up on Tredegar Green to “test the site”. There was no notification to the neighborhood and several neighbors did ask about it. The stage was taken down and it appears that the actual event will occur on Brown’s Island. (Did it violate the “four day rule”?) However, to put it politely, this seems a bit premature and it would have helped to have a courtesy heads-up from Venture Richmond staff while they are supposedly working with the Oregon Hill Neighborhood Association to rezone the Tredegar Green property.

In fact, it appears that Venture Richmond is once again arrogantly and deliberately planning to ignore community concerns. A quick look at latest submissions to the City Planning office confirms that Venture Richmond’s plan appears to fall far short of the neighborhood association’s proposal. (It’s also important to recall that there is no “Tredegar Green” amphitheater in the City’s Riverfront Plan.)

For example, the section on “Building Restriction”: instead of a limitation stating that no permanent structures would be built, Venture Richmond is proposing that only structures on the City-owned portion of the property would be reviewed by the Urban Design Committee and Planning Commission (while buildings up to 95 feet in height could be built on the Venture Richmond-owned land by right!)

Below is a photo today of the grand view from the terrace of the Virginia War Memorial. This is certainly one of the most important viewsheds in Richmond.

Also below is quick photoshop illustrating how this view would be impacted if a building 95 feet in height were built on Tredegar Green, as permitted by the DCC zoning proposed by Venture Richmond. This is a view that should be protected by a restriction on any permanent structures in Tredegar Green, as the neighborhood association has proposed.

Viewshed from Va. War Memorial threatened by proposed rezoning of Tredegar GreenViewshed from Va War Memorial with 95 foot building

Will there be any un-biased media coverage going forward? Oregon Hill neighbors fear that Folk Festival coverage will once again be used to drown out community voices and promises will once again be dishonorably broken. The Times Dispatch, Richmond Free Press, along with other local media outlets are corporate ‘partners’ of Venture Richmond. Who represents the regular citizens on Venture Richmond’s board? This week Style magazine published its 2015 Power List issue with Venture Richmond’s Jack Berry and no mention of his Shockoe stadium campaign or the destruction of the Tredegar wall or Kanawha Canal. No mention of why so many citizens have knicknamed Venture Richmond as “Vulture Richmond”. No mention of the lobbying, tax exemptions, and no-bid lease arrangements. With Venture Richmond increasing ties to WRIR, it looks like they will have all the local media locked up. I remember when former Oregon Hill resident Chris Maxwell and I were excited about creating a community radio station that eschewed corporate donations and influence. Sadly, for many Oregon Hill residents who have supported that WRIR vision over the years, it has been compromised and corrupted.

Despite Style’s Power rhetoric, are “RVA”‘s political winds REALLY on the verge of shifting?