Proposed Building Threatens Richmond’s Namesake View

RICHMOND (WRIC)—Residents living near Libby Hill are worried that a famous view may be in jeopardy; they say a proposed building may block the view after which Richmond was named.

A proposed office and retail building could soon find its home on the James River. The designer of that property says it will not obstruct the famous bend in the river that the city was named after, but residents who enjoy that view say the scene includes more than just that bend in the river.

Diane Worthington's view from her backyard can be described no other way than breathtaking.

“I'm from Detroit, Mich., and we don't have views like this to protect,” she said.

In the 1700's, William Byrd II said this view resembled the view from his childhood in Richmond Hills in England; there, Richmond, Va. got its name.

Robert Mills is the architect behind the proposed office and retail building, known as Richmond on the James. He says the structure is vastly different than the building that was proposed several years ago.

“This building—basically what we've designed is what's allowed by right,” Mills said, adding that the zoning on the property is the zoning required for an office and retail building.

Mills says that therefore no public hearings or input are required before the building is built, and that it will not block the famous view.

“We have been very protective of what we consider to be the historic view, looking down the river at the bend in the river,” he said.

But some say the famous view of the river is more than just that bend.

“Rolling slope, it's this bend in the river, it's the little islands that appear I think are the things that are most similar,” said Leighton Powell, the executive director of Scenic Virginia.

Powell says that while she is not against the proposed building—because she has not seen the plans—she is against anything that would limit the famous view.

“The citizens over and over and over again have said, ‘We want a park there, that should be a park; we want this view preserved,'” Powell said. “To me it's more about honoring our history and doing right by these assets that can't be replaced.”

The American Society of Landscape Architects is looking into the exact angle of the famous view, because that is where the debate actually lies. Mills says it is just the view that includes the bend in the river; others say it's the entire panoramic view.


Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond

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