A group of Richmond Shockoe Bottom businesses are asking the city to reconsider a development plan that includes a new Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) ballpark.
Their reasoning is simple: they see the plan as a way to bring development investment into Shockoe Bottom while at the same time moving forward a memorial to the slave trade in the area. Opponents of the plan say it’s a speculative use of city funds and not properly honoring the memories of slaves traded in Shockoe Bottom — but with no development plan, there’s no memorial either. Mayor Dwight Jones’ plan, while incomplete in several ways, would accomplish both. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Napier and other speakers characterized the plan as a job-producing, poverty-fighting economic development proposal with the added benefit of paying tribute to Shockoe’s history as a slave-trading hub.
Juan Braxton, the owner of Aqua Lounge and former operator of Have a Nice Day Café, said it’s “embarrassing” to not have a proper showcase for the city’s slave history.
“We really don’t have an outlet to tell those stories,” Braxton said. “I think we need to find a way to make things work and not always have this frame of mind of ‘We don’t like it and it’s not going to work.’”
Five of the nine Richmond City Council members oppose the plan, which means it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. But Jones has promised to share more details about the development plan in coming weeks, and surely it will undergo some tweaks as well.
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