Today’s Times-Dispatch reports on efforts to build a swimming complex on the Boulevard to attract both regional and national swimming competitions. Details here.

Apparently this isn’t the first attempt to build such facilities in Richmond, but this time backers aren’t asking for city funds- which apparently held the project up in the past. Poseidon Swimming Foundation is planning on raising the estimated $7 million from private sources.

Of course, with all this interest in the under-utilized Boulevard corridor, the question remains whether development of the neighborhood will happen haphazardly; preferences given to any developer, school, or interest-group who has money. Or will the city develop a new master plan for the area, guiding and facilitating the transformation of the neighborhood into a coherent, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use place to live, work and play? Only time will tell- but I’m afraid that the Braves, Poseidon, VCU and others will use their influence to achieve their own dreams for the site without any overall plan.

Mayor Wilder alludes to the uncertainty in the area in the TD article, specifically regarding the future of the Diamond:

“The actual location of The Diamond, if this is to be a new facility, affects much of our determination,” Wilder said this week. “This has to be settled, and it has not been.”

Let’s hope that Wilder and the city form a commission – with meaningful citizen input & drawing on the intellectual resources we have in VCU’s urban studies and planning department- to put together a master plan for the area. Nevertheless, it’s exciting to see continued interest in the city and I like any plan that raises Richmond’s profile nationally, as the Poseidon plan would do.