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Diamond District plans attempt to balance the needs of cyclists, pedestrians and drivers

A cyclist turns the corner in an industrial-looking neighborhood.
For those who drive to The Diamond District, paid parking options will include underground and parking decks incorporated into other structures, as well as on-street parking. But a number of routes in the area might be bike-friendly. (Photo: Crixell Matthews)

Richmond officials selected a developer this week to oversee revitalization of a 67-acre area dubbed The Diamond District, which is slated to see residential and retail expansion, as well as a new Flying Squirrels baseball stadium. 

These plans attempt to balance the needs of cyclists, pedestrians and drivers. 

Like the center of a big wheel, The Diamond District could be a hub of transportation possibilities. The spokes jut out to Interstates 95 and 64, state Route 195, as well as Broad Street and Arthur Ashe Boulevard. Others branch out to nearby Scott’s Addition and Northside.  

Each of these makes the case for easy access to Flying Squirrels games and would-be shopping opportunities by car — but that’s not the main goal of officials or the developer, according to city plans in its request for information on the area. 

In a resolution presented by Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney on Tuesday, he stated that part of the goal within the district would be “breaking up super blocks to create a street grid incorporating features that support walking, biking, and transit ... .” 

This suits Brantley Tyndall, director of Bike Walk RVA, just fine.  

“It looks [like] a lot of the parking is not prominent in surface parking lot area[s]; you can see some across Hermitage at the corner of Robin Hood, and perhaps there's going to be some subterranean parking or deck parking,” said Tyndall. “But it doesn't look very prominent, which is hopeful to me.” 

For those who drive, paid parking options will include underground and parking decks incorporated into other structures, as well as on-street parking.

In the plans, officials wrote that “[v]ehicular parking should be located within structured parking (within mixed-use buildings) located around the edges of the Diamond District to encourage drivers to park once and visit multiple destinations … ." 

Tyndall said this is a great opportunity for higher-density bike parking “that is not just surface racks that kind of sit in various corners or like unusable areas. He hopes developers will look to places like the Netherlands for inspiration to build high-density bike parking. 

Tyndall also added that a multiuse path shown in the concept plan, which starts near the Science Musuem and goes over the CSX train tracks, could be great for connecting bike networks.  

“I think the trail across the CSX tracks is a really cool connectivity design and is useful to a larger developing bike network in the area,” said Tyndall. “But not everyone will come from that direction. People will also be coming from the north and the east.” 

Tyndall did point out that safety measures need to be put in place for people biking or walking from neighborhoods in Northside, since they’ll have to navigate cars coming off the interstate. 

Another cycling highlight in the area is the planned Fall Line Trail — which will run from Petersburg to Ashland and is about a mile away from the district.  

Bus plans for The Diamond District

Planners are hoping people will take advantage of GRTC’s Route 20 line, which stops right in front of The Diamond, and connects the city’s Northside neighborhoods to Scott’s Addition, Carytown and the Southside. The Pulse Bus Rapid Transit line, which runs along Broad Street, is within a quarter-mile walk of the district, according to the plans.  

More bus options could be added when the area opens, said Adrienne Torres, of GRTC.  

“We have not talked about specifics yet. But know that transit is going to be important, of course, for it to be successful,” she said. 

What hasn’t been discussed is what will happen to Greyhound Bus station directly across from The Diamond. In the request for information, the station is said to serve riders from multiple regional destinations. VPM News reached out to city officials for comment but did not hear back by deadline. 

Despite the developers being named, Richmond City Council needs to vote on the selection of RVA Diamond Partners LLC during a Sept. 26 meeting. 

Ian M. Stewart is the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.
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