Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

James River’s North Bank in Richmond May Soon Be Fully Public

Aerial view of lot
An aerial view of the property the Capital Region Land Conservancy hope to purchase this summer. (Photo provided by the city of Richmond)

Environmental groups and city officials announced Thursday that plans are in place to acquire the last remaining private property along the north bank of the James River for land conservation and public greenspace.

The Capital Region Land Conservancy says it currently has 5.207 acres of land under contract between Shiplock Park and the Virginia Capital Trail (3011 and 3021 Dock Street). If the deal goes through this summer, the Conservancy plans to turn the land over to the city of Richmond to be turned into greenspace. The acquisition would create a contiguous, publicly accessible riverfront space along the James River, a long-time goal for city planners and environmental groups.

“Not only are we proud to be adding additional park and open space lands to the serve the many residents and visitors of the Richmond region, we are honored that this project is filling a critical need within the Riverfront Plan as well as protecting the incredible views from Libby Hill that have been part of a defining landscape for the region over many centuries,” said Parker Agelasto, executive director of the Capital Region Land Conservancy.

The Conservancy is partnering with The Conservation Fund, a national organization, and the Richmond-based James River Association to identify grants and other funding sources for the purchase. The Conservancy did not disclose the purchase price, citing terms in the purchase and sale agreements.

The company USP Echo Harbor LLC owns the land and had been eyeing it for potential office space since at least 2012. Environmental groups like Scenic Virginia opposed the project, arguing it would irreparably harm the public’s view of the James River from Libby Hill, often referred to as “the view that named Richmond.”

Scenic Virginia Executive Director Leighton Powell said Thursday that the land acquisition was, in part, the product of their decades of advocacy work.

"Today is the realization of a dream come true, and we and our supporters could not be more thrilled or grateful that the historic view that connects Richmond to its sister city Richmond-Upon-Thames will be protected much in the same way that it has been in England for more than a century,” Powell said.

The Conservancy will still need to raise additional funds ahead of an expected closing on the property in August. The group says it will work with the city to host community engagement events to discuss future uses for the public greenspace.