City of Richmond to explore reconnecting Jackson Ward

St. Luke Bank and Trust Co., First and Marshall Streets, Richmond, Va

St. Luke Bank and Trust on the corner of First and Marshall Streets. | Photo via VCU Libraries Digital Collections

Richmond wants to reconnect the Harlem of the South — also known as Jackson Ward. Officials are currently in the pre-planning stage of the project but will conduct a feasibility study in the new year.

Before the construction of the interstate highway system through Richmond, Jackson Ward was a thriving community of Black business owners, entrepreneurs, and artists. In the 1950s, Virginia bisected the neighborhood by building I-95 and I-64 through it. The interstate displaced 10% of the city’s Black population and decentralized the area as a key factor of the city center.

Last week, Governor Ralph Northam announced the reconnection project as a partnership between the city and the VA Dept. of Transportation.

According to the project’s website, the feasibility study is the first step in the project. The study will be conducted over the course of several months, with community input and outreach to residents and business owners. The city will look for funding from state and federal sources before construction commences.

The options for reconnecting the neighborhood are wide open. From building mixed-use sites on top of the highway to reevaluating one-way street patterns to adding another bridge, getting in at the beginning of the study means imagination is encouraged. If you have ideas, we’d love to hear them.

If you’re interested in staying up to date on the project, join the Richmond 300 mailing list. The team will send you updates on different facets of the city’s master plan, Richmond 300: A Guide for Growth.

We’ll be sure to reconnect with readers on the project as it develops. If you want to spend a day in Jackson Ward in the meantime, check out our story highlighting the historic neighborhood.

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