The East End Transformation Plan for historic Church Hill in Richmond, Virginia, was the result of a collaborative partnership formed by the City of Richmond, the Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority, and Bon Secours Health System. The objective of the plan is to revitalize Nine Mile Road and 25th Street; they form the East End neighborhood’s central commercial and transportation corridor. The history of the Church Hill study area, which encompasses approximately 350 acres, spans a timeline from colonial Richmond’s beginnings a few blocks from the James River to mid-20th century public housing tracts at its northwest edge at the Interstate 64 highway interchange.
Strategies that emerged as a result of the planning charrette contained both short and long term dimensions. Along the southern portions of 25th Street, the focus was on continuing to create residential and retail infill as well as the restoration of historic structures. These efforts will further support the success of several ongoing public and private initiatives that have brought admirable improvements to the housing stock and overall streetscape in the past decade. Other suggestions for enhancements along 25th Street included repurposing vacant sites for artist studio space, celebrating a beloved gas station-sandwich shop with a landscaped plaza, and expanding the current police station in phases.
At the juncture of 25th Street and Nine Mile Road, a new East End neighborhood square was proposed. A central monument would be framed by the expansion of the existing library and the addition of a grocery store intended to anchor future retail activity. Further north along the more rural Nine Mile Road, façade and other building improvements were recommended for the Bon Secours Hospital, the principal employer in the area. At the entrance to the East End from I-64, the proposal for a gateway at Nine Mile Road melded with plans for the rehabilitation of the old Armstrong High School as a community center, the planting of an urban garden along the underutilized Oakwood Cemetery frontage, and the revitalization and better neighborhood integration of the Creighton Court housing project.
There were extraordinary levels of participation at the East End Charrette with over 400 people attending the opening presentation and a similar turnout at the closing. In addition, hundreds were also participating on a daily basis at the individual focus sessions.