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Community forum on the Brookland Park Theatre

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Take part in a community discussion about the Brookland Park Theatre–Tuesday, November 27 at 6:00 PM, 3121 Moss Side Avenue. RSVP to info@storefrontrichmond.org.

5 comments

  1. #1 • northside •

    So excited this is happening!

  2. #2 • Matthew Freeman •

    Very cool. I hope a bunch of folks show up! I’ll be out of town but will be on the lookout for a report.

  3. #3 • karen •

    Here are some notes i retained from the meeting:

    There was a lot of conversation there and I’m sure my summary is incomplete so feel free to add anything I’ve missed!

    If I have my details correct, the theater has been under the same ownership since the 70s but now a new group (so new, they have no web presence) called the Nehemiah Project is interested in buying and resuscitating it. It seems they’re interested in it remaining a theater but also entertaining alternative uses like functioning as a community center, an event venue for rental, hosting live performances (open mic nights, etc.)

    It was clear that Nehemiah needed to ascertain whether the Northside could and would immediately support a new theater in our area, with questions like “What kind of movies should be shown?” and “What type of food do you want to see at the snack bar?” and much less focus on long term ideas of the theater as a bedrock bringing revitalization to the Brookland Park corridor and building it as a destination attracting all city residents in the way Richmonders will go out of their way to shop in Carytown, Libbie/Grove, MacArthur etc.

    In discussion groups, many advantages and challenges were considered:

    One advantage is that the Northside already has a tremendously diverse demographic, speculatively much more so than other parts of Richmond. This implies that there is potential customer base to support much more diversity in our commercial corridor. While we want to keep our current businesses on Brookland Park, the majority provide a specificity within the same service industry and collectively do not represent the diversity of the residents themselves.

    Our Barton Heights area has a unique geography in that Brookland Park bisects two very large residential areas. Many residents say they have friends both north and south of Brookland Park and so the corridor is a natural meeting place in the middle. Rather than drive to MacArthur for coffee and restaurants on the weekends, many would love to have such shops available within walking distance at this natural boulevard with its centrally located, convenient location.

    Proximity & easy transit: Many city residents may not even be aware of us, but the Brookland Park corridor is within 3 – 4 miles (and an easy bike ride) from the Fan, Museum District, VCU/VUU and downtown areas. The city has made a lot of talk about bike lanes without actually implementing any so there’s a belief that being one of the first neighborhoods to stripe designated lanes is a genuine opportunity that would be an attention-getter increasing traffic to our part of the city already served by the bus lines. One attendee expressed that the Northside is uniquely positioned to “be a unifier for Richmond’s north, south, east & west stratification.”

    When theorizing strategies for growing an area that needs revitalization, it makes sense that the community anchor point SHOULD be a cultural destination; a Starbucks or a Dollar Tree might be convenient for residents, but it doesn’t bring outsiders the way a unique point of interest does because chain stores can be found every where. It was widely agreed that for a theater to thrive, a significant chunk of the corridor would need to have evening lights on to look lively and/or be otherwise improved to bring and retain a customer base beyond the Northside.

    To this end, one great initiative would be to organize outdoor festivals (in the vein of the Watermelon Festival, Broad Appétit, First Fridays, etc) block parties, or a film fest like the Byrd’s successful French Film Festival to once again draw a customer base from beyond our immediate boundaries.

    Parking is an issue (which makes bike lanes all the more important).

    Other suggestions:

    Comparisons were made to the Hippodrome which can be useful as a model in studying its successes and challenges.

    James River Film and the Visual Art Center of Richmond among many other non-profits, would make great partners for the theater if film festivals and/or educational opportunities are possible.

    Neighborhood canvasing for short surveys or info sharing is useful for generating interest as the project is under development.

    A great first step would be to simply illuminate the theater’s neon sign. Northside residents already have a great pride in our neighborhood’s history and architecture.

  4. #4 • Holly •

    So what happened to this? Have heard nada since workshop.