Commission votes unanimously for downtown amphitheater

Posted at 5:45 PM, Sep 17, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-17 17:46:19-04
Tredegar Green photos of existing site

Tredegar Green photos of existing site

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)–The plan to build an amphitheater in downtown Richmond has been unanimously approved by the Richmond Planning Commission.

A few conditions were established.  The planning commission added that permanent changes cannot be made to the historic, 200-year-old Kanawha Canal.

The commission also said Venture Richmond will need a rezoning and special-use permit if the amphitheater is going to be used more than four times a year.

Venture Richmond says the amphitheater would make events like the Folk Festival easier to contain. There was also concern that such a stage was necessary for the future of the popular festival, which drew over 200,000 people downtown in 2012. The site for its main stage has been provided by the NewMarket Corporation.

Tredegar Green Master Plan

Tredegar Green Master Plan

However, there are still concerns, and objections.

People are worried about preserving the canal’s history and neighbors in nearby Oregon Hill want noise levels and parking addressed before the amphitheater is built. And some question if the historic wall was “mistakenly” demolished to make room for the amphitheater.  

Last October, roughly 100 feet of wall was inexplicably torn just before another section was legally removed to make way for the 2nd Street connector road. For days, no one could explain it. Venture Richmond, the city, the road builders all said it wasn’t them.

“Surprise, surprise,” said Charles Pool, an Oregon Hill resident and self-appointed guardian of the canal system that Washington envisioned to connect Richmond (and the bay) with the Mississippi.

“The big surprise,” Pool said with irony, “is now Venture Richmond is including city property in the amphitheater proposal. The city property is where 100 feet of the Tredegar wall was demolished. It doesn’t come as a surprise to us.”

The plan goes back to the Urban Design Committee for final approval.