The Shockoe Ballpark proposal has a new ally.  Time will tell if it’s a new and also powerful ally.  His name is Del. G. Manoli Loupassi,who has proposed a bill in the General Assembly to fund a ballpark with tax dollars. I don’t remember his role in the ballpark planning while he represented the 1st District on city council.

According to today’s Times-Dispatch:

The proposal would apply only to the state’s 4 percent portion of sales taxes generated by the stadium and structures associated with it, potentially hotels and retail and office space.

Diverting tax money from the development to pay off the development seems like a good financing plan to me.  The devil is in the details, however.

It was unclear yesterday exactly how much money might be available and what would happen if revenues aren’t sufficient to cover bond payments. Officials with Richmond Baseball Club LC, a group led by Highwoods Properties, said they would elaborate today.

In another, perhaps more interesting development, the ballpark development group has hired state Sen. Henry L. Marsh III as their lobbyist.

Marsh, as many of you know, represents Richmond in the state Sentate, is a former Richmond mayor, and mentor to new General Assembly delegate Delores McQuinn.

Delegate McQuinn is the political sponsor of the Richmond City Counil’s Slave Trail Commission.  The word on the street is that she will not be giving up her seat on the commission as she moves from city to state politician.

My hope is that the McQuinn-Marsh relationship will help advance the cause of memorializing the ugly history of Shockoe, which the Slave Trail Commission has championed effectively,  and not subsume that important effort to other political goals. Because as much as I’d like to see surface lots in Shockoe disappear and life returned to that neighborhood, I’d like even more to see the hsitory that’s been paved over for so long properly acknowledged.

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The times dispatch displayed this picture and headline about Wilder on their website today:

wilder

Seriously?  Wilder riding a bus? As the picture for an article about how much money he’ll be making?  There’s no mention of buses, GRTC, public transit, or anything besides Wilder’s fat VCU salary in the article.  Not even in the photo caption.

There was, however, mention of VCU’s “buyer’s remorse,”

VCU Rector Thomas Rosenthal said yesterday that Wilder’s new salary was negotiated in May, after the mayor decided he would not seek re-election.

“I can honestly say we were not aware of the depth of the problem” the university would face in the state budget crisis, Rosenthal said.

I live in a part of town where I’m a racial minority.  I’m white, most of my neighbors are black.  Tonight as I was walking home from a friendsplace, a police car rolled up next to me and the officer rolled down his window.

I was totally vibing to a new song I’d discovered on my craigslist-purchased ipod.  I’m embarrassed to say what the song was.  But I was listening to it for the 10th time that day.

When I noticed the police car driving slowly along next to me, I took out my headphones to listen to the cop.

“Do you live up here?”

“Yes”

“Where?”

Here I should point out that I’ve heard of other white folks in my neighborhood being given a hard time for walking down the street- presumed to be in the neighborhood to buy drugs or sex- and I always imagined that if I were in their shoes I’d be witty, brilliant, and totally put the cops in their place.

“On W St.,”  I said.

Witty.  Biting sarcasm.  Oh well.  He was a cop.

“What’s your address?” the cop pressed further.

Here’s the part of the story where I should tell you how I put the cop in his place, pointed out his stereotyping behavior, and totally remade the social order in Richmond.

Instead, I told him my address.
He drove off.

Maybe next time…

Rumor has it that Chipotle and Panera are coming to VCU- where the old Pizza Hut was on the corner of Grace and Laurel. Can anyone confirm or deny this news?  I cannot find anything online, but VCU students are all abuzz about it.

That’s the building under construction next to Hyperlink Cafe, which doesn’t seem a big enough space for both restaurants.

Chain restaurants are really taking hold in that part of town- 1 block away on Broad St. there’s Qdoba, 5 Guys, Tropical Smoothie, Extreme Pizza, Quizno’s, and a little further away on the corner of Belivdere and Cary there’s a new Chile’s.

**Update- rumor tentatively confirmed, read the comments for more info.

Now that Ukrop’s has made the newsworthy decision to reduce its “fuelperks!” gasonline discount from $0.10 to $0.05 per gallon, I thought I’d offer some helpful tips to Richmonders reeling from this blow to their budgets.

If you have a 15-gallon tank, you were saving $1.50 per tank (for every $50 spent at Ukrop’s).
Now you’ll be saving $0.75 per tank.

So I have some suggestions on how to save 3/4 of a dollar in gasoline costs:

  1. Walk
  2. Ride your bike
  3. Carpool
  4. Combine errands
  5. Stop driving out of your way to the participating fuelperks! gas stations
  6. Stop driving everywhere all the time

If you do one of those once a week on one of your regular errands, I can guarantee you will make up those lost savings.

And you’ll be doing the state VDOT budget a favor by lessening the strain on our roads (and then maybe they wouldn’t have to keep raising tolls).

And you’d be doing our lungs a favor by sending less pollutants into our shared air.

And you’d be doing your health a favor by excercising more (applies to options 1 & 2 only).

As you longtime Urban Richmond readers know, I hate cars. They’re a scourge on our urban landscape.

Positive changes coming in Richmond in 2009:

  • Affordable housing and environmental sustainability finally merge: all Habitat houses built in Richmond will be Earth Craft certified, something that Better Housing Coalition has been doing for 2 years already.  Look for 300 or more affordable units to be built by these 2 non-profits this year.
  • Legend Brewery expanding.
    The Nielsen Co., a consumer research firm, considers beer one of the most recession-resistant consumer products.”  They’ll start creating 6-packs and increasing production.
  • The new Bogart’s location is almost open. Good news for live music fans!
  • Richmond finally gets a good Indian restaurant (good, at least, according to Style).
    And it’s in an old Aunt Sarah’s I used to frequent in high school.  I’ll be sure to review it here when I get there.
  • 9 restaurants opening near downtown (from Rocketts Landing to Grove & Libbie) – including ceviche & tapas bar, another Carytown sushi spot, more soul food, and more.

And last, but certainly not least, Richmond enters 2009 a much safer city than it has been in years.  Though I haven’t seen a final tally, our murder and violent crimes rates have dropped tremendously.

And my pipes are frozen.
I’ve been under the house with a hair dryer all morning and have managed to get one sink working.  I’m wondering if it would be really dangerous to put a space heater under there so I can stay inside.

The joy of old, historic, uninsulated homes.