Summer is upon us, and that means herds of Richmonders have started heading down to the river. In fact, visits to the James are expected to increase nearly 70 percent in June, a statistic I made up, yet I think we can all agree it sounds like an educated guess.
The river and its 1.25-mile Canal Walk are a source of pride for Richmonders. But a thriving river district has remained an unfulfilled dream for decades. In fact, city officials first laid out the river's original mixed-use development plan in 32 B.C. There have been some improvements to the area since then, but not a lot has changed. And when you consider that in only five years the people behind the Twilight series have made four books and three movies, the sluggish development of the Canal Walk is even more agonizing.
Still, there's hope. Take a look at how other cities have built up their successful river areas, and consider how Richmond could do the same:
St. Louis has an arch on the Mississippi. If we build a double arch, we'd be twice as good as St. Louis and could potentially strike a sponsorship deal with McDonald's.
London has a Ferris wheel on the Thames. Thames rhymes with James. John Smith was from London or someplace in England and discovered Richmond or something like that. So, a Ferris wheel here is simply a natural extension of our British commonalities.
Las Vegas doesn't have a river, but it has casinos and makes some sweet coin off of them. I think you can tell what I'm getting at.
New Orleans has a bustling French Quarter on the Mississippi. Do we have enough French people in Richmond to merit our own quarter?
Chicago dyes the Chicago River green for St. Patrick's Day. We should do that, too. It wouldn't really help anything development-wise, but it'd sure look neat for a few hours each year.
Consultants and economic-development types view San Antonio 's River Walk as what Richmond's Canal Walk could be. Easiest solution? Move San Antonio here.