RICHMOND, Va. — The Richmond Planning Commission has approved the construction of a memorial to commemorate Richmond native and civil rights advocate Maggie L. Walker.
The commission voted to unanimously approve the project Monday afternoon. The memorial still needs approval from Richmond’s City Council.
Walker is best known for being the first woman to charter and serve as president of a bank in the US. Her home in the 100 block of E. Leigh Street in Jackson Ward is a federally protected National Historic Site.
“Seeing this effort cross this hurdle is very gratifying,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “The vision for the Maggie L. Walker statue and this project has been under discussion for quite some time. I am pleased to have had a hand in making sure this happens. This is right for our city, our state and our country.”
The monument will be built in an urban plaza along Broad and Adams Street, where a historic oak tree currently stands. The proposal, sponsored by Mayor Jones, suggests closing off the section of Brook Road between Adams and Broad Streets to build the plaza.
The tree caused some controversy as the project will require the tree to be cut down. In addition, some watchdog groups have questioned the ballooning budget to go farther with the project.
“In 2010, this started out as a project to build a monument to Maggie Walker,” said Jennie Dotts, a preservationist and vocal critic of the latest plan told CBS 6 in June. “It was going to be $300,000 for a statue and a pedestal. Well, now it’s $1.2 million-plus. There’s no written budget for it, there’s no approved budget for it.”
The statue will receive final Public Art Commission and City Planning Commission approval in August. The project is expected to begin in fall 2016 with an completion time-frame in the spring of 2017.