Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Echo Harbor Presentation & A Vision for Black History in Shockoe Bottom

Echo Harbor Presentation - September 1, 2009 from Silver Persinger on Vimeo.

Delegate Delores McQuinn made an appearance and reminded the group that she was seeking office and to be sure to vote and tell your friends to vote on November 3.

Attorney James W. "Jim" Theobald from Hirschler Fleischer on behalf of Echo Harbor LLC presented a verbal argument in favor of the current redesign for Echo Harbor. He presented computer renderings of the design and views of the streetscape. He took questions from the audience and notably the organizers of the forum were supportive -- Antione Green, President, Richmond Crusade for Voters and Carrie Cox, President, Greater Jefferson Davis Area Civic Association. Councilman Marty Jewell [5th District] was the only member of City Council present. Three members of Council's Department of Legislative Services were present: Anthony Dale, Council Budget Analyst, Philip Leone, Council Fiscal Analyst, and Steven Taylor, Council Policy Analyst.

Mr. Theobald's argument essentially was that by right of current zoning his client could erect a 300 foot tall building with no breaks to preserve the view. He also demonstrated how the developer had made multiple revisions to the design to address complaints from Church Hill residents. He highlighted that the right of way would be deeded to the Capitol Trail and the developer would shoulder the costs of installing the portion of the trail that would pass through the property as well as other improvements to city property in the area. Interestingly, Mr. Theobald said that the project had morphed from more of a residential project into more of a commercially based project that will include shops, restaurants, hotel, and office space, as well as condominiums.

Phil Wilayto, editor of the Virginia Defender, presented his and his wife, Ana Edwards' vision for Shockoe Bottom development to include a genealogy center, slavery museum, and respecting the sacred burial grounds and the site of Lumpkin's Jail. I considered Phil's talk educational and inspiring. He spoke 20 minutes but about 15 minutes into his talk, I noticed a couple of African American audience members rolling their eyes. It was a little on the long side but it was interesting, I learned a few things I didn't know. Nothing compared to the presentation from our developer.

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