Saturday, June 15, 2024

With $4M investment, City shifts priorities from Capitol Landing to Midtown

The view of Monticello Avenue from the Monticello Shopping Center. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)

City Council has earmarked more than $4 million for the redesign of Monticello Avenue and flipped the priorities of its capital improvement projects.

Council voted unanimously at last week’s meeting to transfer leftover funds and funds slated for the renovation of Capitol Landing Road to finance a redesign of Monticello Avenue.

According to City Manager Marvin Collins, the decision does not change the city’s Financial Year 2018 budget, but rather makes use of funding that had already been appropriated.

The revamping of Monticello Avenue will be done in coordination with the redevelopment of the Williamsburg Shopping Center, according to meeting documents.

“To me, there’s a tremendous opportunity here,” Mayor Paul Freiling told his fellow councilors during the meeting. “We’ve been waiting for the redevelopment of the Williamsburg Shopping Center for as long as I’ve been on City Council.”

“Now the opportunity is in front of us, and to take this small step — [which] is really just switching the priority of projects to make that possible — is a tremendous step forward for the city.”

The redevelopment of Midtown, which is defined as the area surrounding the intersection of Monticello Avenue, Richmond Road, and Lafayette Street, has long been a goal and priority among city officials.

Officials have stated their hopes that the creation of a pedestrian-friendly area that combines residential and a variety of businesses could stimulate economic growth — and thereby increase city revenue.

Broad Street’s redevelopment strategy for Midtown calls for the addition of landscaped pedestrian boulevards, a public plaza, art, sidewalks, bike lanes, new residential buildings, new storefronts and a new hotel. (Courtesy Broad Street Realty)
Broad Street’s redevelopment strategy for Midtown calls for the addition of landscaped pedestrian boulevards, a public plaza, art, sidewalks, bike lanes, new residential buildings, new storefronts and a new hotel. (Courtesy Broad Street Realty)

A total of $1,242,000 of the funds used for the Monticello project were savings carried over from other city projects this fiscal year, such as repaving and underground wiring. The savings were transferred into the 2018 budget.

Another $2,387,000 was transferred from the Capitol Landing Road Redesign, which was slated for fiscal year 2018, and $500,000 more came from utility funds, for a total of $4,129,000.

In effect, the council’s vote flips both the timetable and the priority of the Monticello Avenue and Capitol Landing Road projects.

“The reason both of these are so high on the priority list is because this is investment in the type of infrastructure that’s going to spur more economic development in those corridors which then spins off more tax revenue for the community,” Freiling said.

The Capitol Landing Road Redesign had originally been scheduled for fiscal year 2018, and the Monticello Avenue project for 2020. After the vote, the design work for Capitol Landing Road will take place in fiscal year 2019, with construction scheduled for 2020.

According to City Communication Specialist Lee Ann Hartmann, the city will host a charrette — a public meeting that includes maps, drawings, and images — to gather information and public input regarding the redesign of Monticello Avenue.

The charrette will be held Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. in the Stryker Center, and residents are encouraged to attend.

Bidding for the project will likely take place late in the spring of 2018, with construction beginning in 2019.

“Midtown redevelopment has been a big focus in the city for many years,” said Councilman Benming Zhang before voting to pass the resolution. “It’s an economic development purpose for this fund, and I think it makes sense. It’s a sound recommendation and I support it.”

Council also passed a resolution requesting the Virginia Department of Transportation establish the Capitol Landing Road Streetscape Project, and transfer surplus funds VDOT previously allocated to the city for the Capitol Landing project.

According to the resolution, VDOT identified funds left over from the 2009 Richmond Road Widening project, the 2006 construction of Treyburn Drive, and the canceled Waltz Farm intersection project, totaling just under $2 million.

The resolution also asks VDOT for up to $5,774,300 through the Urban Highway Program. The city agreed to provide its share of funding for the Capitol Landing project, which will be determined when the project’s financial documents are drafted.

The funds will be used to make streets more friendly to pedestrians, and construct transit shelters and decorative amenities to encourage redevelopment of lands along Capitol Landing Road in the Culinary Arts Zoning District.

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