There were many interesting tidbits from the first Richmond Riverfront forum held this past Wednesday, but many in attendance seemed to be surprised when they heard for the first time of a proposed amphitheater on the New Market Corp. property at 2nd Street, the location of the very popular Richmond Folk Festival. The amphitheater would be […]
There were many interesting tidbits from the first Richmond Riverfront forum held this past Wednesday, but many in attendance seemed to be surprised when they heard for the first time of a proposed amphitheater on the New Market Corp. property at 2nd Street, the location of the very popular Richmond Folk Festival.
The amphitheater would be tucked into the hillside along the path of the old Kanawha Canal, and area that is dry and which is covered by trees in that area behind Tredegar Iron Works. This proposal also includes a new street connection from 2nd Street to Tredegar, just east of the Robert E. Lee Bridge.
The property is currently privately owned by NewMarket Corp. and would be deeded to the City of Richmond. I asked James Hill of the Department of Planning and Development Review if Hargreaves Associates, the architecture firm hired to carry out the riverfront plans, had let the cat out of the bag on that project.
“A representative of Venture Richmond discussed the proposal at some length at a public meeting (Urban Design Committee) on Thursday, September 8,” Hill said in an email. “The discussion took place in the context of the UDC’s conceptual review of the proposed 2nd Street Connector. The connector road project comes before the Planning Commission for conceptual review on Monday, September 19. The meeting will begin at 1:30 and the public is invited to offer comment.”
I had heard about the amphitheater in a couple of discussions, but wasn’t aware that it had been made public. The segment of the canal the connector roadway crosses is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the James River and Kanawha Canal Historic District. The project proposal does not specifically address how the canal crossing would be addressed. The roadway is part of the Downtown Master Plan [.PDF].
I’m not the only one intrigued by this, as Richmond Magazine’s Harry Kollatz Jr. had some more great information about the amphitheater and the history of the area, including a couple of old photos.
Another idea…is an amphitheater near Brown’s Island, by the northern end of the Lee Bridge. This presumably would suit the Richmond Folk Festival, except who’ll manage and program it the rest of the year, and isn’t there already Dogwood Dell?
This is also approximately the site of the James River Kanawha Canal Intermediary Basin and a boatyard for the construction and maintenance of canal craft. You see in the photo at left, a graceful curve of a brick wall. An extensive part of that wall — or the one across from it — remains on what is now the campus lawn of the NewMarket Corp.
What do you think? Do we need an amphitheater in that area? Brown’s Island is just down the hill and is a much larger venue and open space. It would certainly be helpful during the Richmond Folk Festival.