About a month ago, Mike Martz of the Times-Dispatch reported that the developers of the parcel east of Great Shiplock Park and below Libby Hill were proposing a new office project for the site. It was to be smaller than former proposals, which drew the ire of preservationists worried about spoiling the “View that named Richmond” from Libby Hill.
The view from Libby Hill. Credit: Church Hill Peoples’ News
Two weeks later, Leighton Powell, Executive Director of Scenic Virginia, and Robert Mills, a principal for Commonwealth Architects, a Richmond firm that is in charge of the Plan of Development for the proposed development, wrote pieces against and for, respectively, the proposed three-story office building project. I’m not here to give my opinion. What caught my eye was Mills’ mention that the plan called for including right-of-way for the Virginia Capital Trail, which must either go through or around the property after leaving the trailhead at Great Shiplock Park.
I called Virginia Capital Trail Foundation Executive Director Beth Weisbrod yesterday to get her thoughts on the proposal. She said that while her group takes no official position on the larger-development-vs.-preserving-the-view argument, “it sounds like it’s in keeping with the Riverfront Plan, and it’s incorporating the trail in a really great alignment. We support the trail’s alignment through the project, but as far as everything else goes, we can’t wade into that.””
The proposed project has the trail go along the river before joining with the yet-to-be-started section where the Lehigh Cement silos now reside. What’s more, Weisbrod said, is that the developer has “offered what we need for the temporary alignment along Dock Street. There’s an easement that goes pretty much the whole length of their property that allows for a temporary trail to go in while this construction is going on. That also is a very important piece that needed to happen and we’re thrilled about that.”
The upshot is that should this project go through, but not be completed by September of 2015,”we won’t have a hole in the trail when the bike race comes through.”