The flood wall along the James River provides flood protection for downtown Richmond and Manchester. This is a good thing for all of us, but along Manchester’s waterfront it’s a bit of an eyesore. A raised walkway along the flood wall is nice but it doesn’t put you close to the river. Not to mention the huge vertical expanse of concrete wall isn’t natural to the organic environment nor are the huge boulders that line the river’s edge.
There aren’t any redeeming qualities on the other side of the wall either. Right now the area is made up of railroad tracks, barely-there parking lots, and an overgrown canal that you may not even know existed through that area of Manchester.
This section of the river could be utilized far more than it is right now. A park system with walking paths, bike trails, and closer access to the river needs to take shape for everyone to further enjoy. A natural, organic look but a creative whimsy to the area could be something unique and defining for Manchester. As a nod to creative whimsy, there are already plans in the works for painting murals on the Southern States silos.
This area along the river is the first impression and the portal into Manchester. We need to put some more effort into sprucing up our front door.
While researching how others have planned areas similar to Manchester, I found something I had not seen before. It’s a master plan for defining the river’s edge along the flood wall in Manchester.
The document is dated November 26, 2012 and is known as the Richmond Riverfront Plan. Not only does it talk about Manchester history, but it also suggest ways in which we can revitalize the area along the wall. I found this to be a step in the right direction that included thoughts and concepts for both sides of the wall. Terraced landscaping is shown at the river’s edge to replace the boulders. The other side of the wall is in-filled to create a more comprehensive park system. The images from the plan shown below highlight these concepts.
These well laid plans need to be brought off the shelf, dusted off, and implemented for the transformation and rebirth of Manchester RVA.