One year ago during the Holidays of 2015 we launched The Dogtown Dish. We are often asked: Why Manchester? And why did you launch the Dogtown Dish?
Well the answers are really simple…
Manchester has great bones. We often refer to Manchester as a City Within a City. How many neighborhoods have their own riverfront with unrivaled views of nature and the Richmond skyline behind it, an old historical industrial core where stuff is still made, a diverse residential neighborhood comprised of large representations of Latino, African American, and whites living side by side, and a business corridor in the form of Hull Street that runs right smack dab through the center of it all? Well Manchester does, and the potential is freaking awesome.
You can still make a difference in Manchester. We looked at Church Hill and Scott’s Addition before deciding to put our attention toward Manchester. What we saw was that Church Hill and Scott’s Addition were both already on their way. With homes that have been lovingly restored for many decades, Church Hill had already stabilized with new restaurants and businesses opening up all the time. Similarly, Scott’s Addition seemed to have a new brewery opening up nearly every month. Both neighborhoods were off to the races. Simply put, they didn’t need our help. Had we invested in those neighborhoods, it simply would have been that: an investment. We didn’t want to glom on and simply try to make a nickel by buying up a vacant building or two next door to a bunch of recent renovations. That didn’t excite us.
Manchester on the other hand presented potential that wasn’t yet fully realized. Yes, it had apartments sprouting up like dandelions on a freshly cut summer lawn. Yes, it had a vibrant bohemian art community. But the riverfront in Manchester had not been leveraged. Hull Street was a sea of boarded up buildings. The residential district had nearly as many vacant lots as it had houses. Plus there were potholes everywhere, the sidewalks were in shambles, trash was littering the neighborhood, and tree wells were sitting empty amongst the streets.
Bottom line, Manchester needed some help. And we had some extra capital, energy, and business ideas that we thought might help provide a shot in the arm.
Why Launch The Dogtown Dish?
Manchester Needed a Voice. We wanted to give a shout out to all the artists, neighbors, entrepreneurs, developers, and community members who were already doing great stuff in Manchester. They needed someone to shine a light on their efforts. And similar to what John Murden and his Church Hill People’s News did for the stabilization of Church Hill, we were hoping The Dogtown Dish might do for Manchester, but with its own unique voice.
We also wanted The Dogtown Dish to serve as a platform for holding the City accountable. After a quick drive around Manchester, it was painfully obvious that the City had completely forgotten about the neighborhood. While City officials focused on more affluent areas of town such as the Fan, and casually turned their eyes toward bright shiny objects such as the Redskins Training Camp and Stone Brewing, Manchester wasn’t on the radar screen. Someone needed to yell “Hey remember us over here?!” We wanted to see the basics get done: paving the streets, patching potholes, planting trees in empty tree wells, repairing sidewalks, and picking up litter.
Going forward, we also want to see the City invest in infrastructure by carrying out the City’s riverfront development plan for Manchester, fixing up the Manchester Canal, repurposing the Mayo Bridge, and helping slow traffic on the Hull Street business corridor. The Dogtown Dish acts as our bullhorn for bringing these ideas to the forefront, partnering with the City, but then ultimately holding the elected officials and staff members accountable on following through.
We hope you enjoy reading our articles. And while you don’t have to agree with our opinions all the time, we hope you can see our hearts are in the right place. We made our first big step this past year. We hope you will join us as we help build a strong identity for Manchester as we move forward into the future.
We have a feeling 2017 is going to be another great year for our neighborhood in bloom. We hope you and your families have a Happy Holidays!
-Peace, Love, & Manchester