Varying Viewpoints: Riverfront development

Tobacco Avenue recently asked two Richmonders for their opinion on the use of the James River in the city’s future downtown development plans.  Today, we publish their pieces.

The James is a precious resource that we must utilize for future growth

When we consider the future of Richmond, one cannot overlook the importance of the James River.  You may have heard in the news lately about how the Downtown “Master Plan” includes ideas on ways to turn our most precious natural resource into more than just a recreation spot.  City officials have said we must focus on the James – which has been called our “wet Central Park” – as the source of our urban revival.

I could not agree more.

Everyday when I look at the “Latest News” section on, it’s like there is a new riverfront related story.  Nightlife, restaurants, businesses and homes along the James could turn Richmond into a thriving urban center, akin to the development seen in other “River Cities” such as San Antonio or St. Louis.

On the news last night, I saw how our local economic development officials have spent quality time in these cities and are working hard to make the concept of Richmond’s riverfront very similar.

In many places, you already see success: the Vistas on the James, Rocketts Landing, and Friday Cheers.  They represent some of the earliest public, industrial and commercial developments on the riverfront thus far.

But there is work to be done.

A recent article in Style Weekly noted that while the James has long been a center of recreation for citizens, we must improve upon our connections between city parks and riverfront areas.  And as construction along the river begins to pick up, we must take great care to protect the beauty of the waters from developers.  The newspaper piece made me realize that preservation of the James is key.

For these reasons, I say let’s move forward and make Richmond the “River City” of all “River Cities.”


I’m Gayle Bromley! Look at me! I like to show off how I pay attention to current events and form my own opinions!

Newsflash for Gayle Bromley: You know those people who act like total know-it-alls and form wild opinions based on what they saw on the news last night or read in the paper this morning?

Of course you do, because you are one of those people!

Blah, blah, blah, James River, blah, blah, blah.   It’s like your whole life is spent worrying about stuff that is someone else’s concern.  What about your own life?  How’s that going?  Oh that’s right!  You don’t have one!

Topic: Economic development along a river.  I seriously can’t think of anything more boring.  Except maybe the inside of your house, which I’m sure is just all current-evented out with all kinds of junk.

Here’s something we can all agree on:  Paying attention to the things happening around us the biggest waste of time, unless those things around us are hot babes laying out on the rocks of the James River banks.

I’ll admit, calling the James our “wet Central Park” was pretty clever.  But are you seriously referring to Richmond as a River City?  How many River Cities do you think are out there, and if we had to pick one, wouldn’t New York get first dibs on that title?

And unlike you, I’ve been to San Antonio and St. Louis, and the best part about them was the hotel beds each morning to rid myself of the hangover from the night prior.

The set of the Alamo movie and a big curvy metal boomerang thing?  Whatever.  We got the landmark of all landmarks in our own backyard: The Landmark Theater.  Seinfeld came last year; you may not have seen him (as you were too busy updating the Wikipedia entry on “Tabby cats”).

I love how you talk about such establishments as Toad’s Place or Blackfinn, though you likely have no idea what it’s like to stumble out of either and taxi back home, unless you “get the idea” of what it’s like by reading through Style’s Bar Guide.

As a lifelong Richmonder, I don’t need the news, and I know what the James is good for: laying out on the rocks, boozing and babe-watching.  Those are the types of things we need to preserve for future generations.

Beyond that, why form opinions and concern ourselves with other people’s business?


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