Earlier this month, we posted about a group of VCU urban design students and their analysis of the Lakeside corridor that extends from Bryan Park in Richmond to Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Henrico. Richmond.com has run an extensive article on the student’s proposal for the mile-long stretch of Lakeside Avenue: Students noted that clustering convenience […]
Earlier this month, we posted about a group of VCU urban design students and their analysis of the Lakeside corridor that extends from Bryan Park in Richmond to Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Henrico. Richmond.com has run an extensive article on the student’s proposal for the mile-long stretch of Lakeside Avenue:
Students noted that clustering convenience foods such as ice cream shops and a 1950s-style diner around the park end of Lakeside Avenue would appeal to hungry soccer players as well as to busy commuters. At the garden end of the avenue – the site of a recently approved farmer’s market – shoppers would be drawn to specialty food and sophisticated retail, such as a wine shop, gardening and gift stores.
But Lakesiders also wants to draw local visitors, as they did with an inaugural “Holly Jolly Christmas” event, featuring carolers, trolley rides and extended shopping hours. Students described additional celebrations that would capitalize on Lakeside’s small-town, 1950s appeal and make it a regional destination: a floral-related spring event, coordinated with Lewis Ginter’s plant sale, and an antique auto event in early fall.
Aside from the shortage of food and entertainment options, agreed students and officials, the primary obstacle to lingering is Lakeside’s lack of connection between the two commercial nodes. The largely residential area between park and garden acts as a barrier, and there is little to tie the two ends together or brand the area as one.
The urban design and landscape is decidedly auto-oriented and not conducive to strolling, with far too many curb cuts and a dearth of public parking places for the 14,000 cars passing through daily.
To tie the two commercial districts together, students recommended developing Lakeside’s midsection into a mixed-use zone of office space, retail and multi-family housing flanked by a public park. The county, which recently completed a $4.2 million Lakeside Avenue enhancement project adding sidewalks, curbing and a new median, could expand enterprise-zone incentives that offer grants for landscaping, paving and renovation. Among the improvements that would create a more pedestrian-friendly environment, said students, would be raised brick crosswalks at the avenue’s intersections with Dumbarton and Hilliard.
Students also suggested a traffic roundabout at Lakeside and Hilliard – perhaps marked by a statue of Maj. Lewis Ginter pointing to the Garden – and recommended a decrease in the speed limit to 25 mph to lower the “intimidation factor” for pedestrians.
Student presenter Kelly Kinahan noted a number of promotional goals that would also help Lakeside define a continuous corridor and project a more cohesive image. Among the suggestions were distinctive signage and enhanced visual identity, such as pillars at the entrances and banners announcing events – perhaps incorporating the old-fashioned bicycle wheel logo from Lakeside’s 1995 Lakeside Avenue enhancement plan.
“Something,” Kinahan said, “that says, ‘Hey, you’re here, it’s Lakeside.’”