All riverfront properties in Richmond, Virgina share something in common — railroads.
No history of Richmond is complete without a great deal of discussion about the impact of rail on the development of our city. RF & P, C & O, CSX, Norfolk Southern and Amtrak have all helped shape the city by moving freight and other cargo inland from the many points of entry in Virginia. The impact is undeniable and without rail, Richmond would look far different than it does today.
In the 1850’s, placing rail along the rivers and canals made sense … today, maybe not as much. I don’t think it was a big stretch to imagine that city planners in the 1800’s were not exactly imagining high-rise condos and contemporary town home projects when they discussed land use. Consequently, the city developed with an industrial/commerce mindset — not a waterfront residential one — and thus, the majority of the land, along both the north and south banks of the James, belongs to the railroads of the region.
The impact of the rail can be felt in almost every neighborhood and community in Richmond, regardless of its history, class, architecture or age. Shockoe, Tobacco Row, Church Hill, Downtown, Rockett’s Landing, Scotts Addition, Manchester, Oregon Hill, Byrd Park, Windsor Farms and out Cary Street/River Road are all impacted by rail as is the Town of Ashland, Glen Allen, Mechanicsville, Midlothian and the more rural areas of Goochland, Powhatan and Amelia.
The City of Richmond’s Riverfront Plan, adopted in late 2012, created a comprehensive strategy for what the Richmond region should do to reconnect the city to its most precious resource, the James River. The Norfolk Southern rail yard is an integral part of the plan and is slated to be ‘passive green space’ for recreation. Pages 42 – 49 of the Richmond Riverfront Plan discusses Manchester and specifically, Manchester Green.
As part of our own Due Diligence, we placed a time lapse camera along the retaining wall in order to get a sample of the rail traffic. The video captures a week’s worth of rail traffic and demonstrates the frequency and intensity of the rail. We left the date and time stamp on the footage to allow buyers to assess the use of the rail line.
The yard that rests below the 7 West site, is currently owned by Norfolk Southern. As the line leaves Manchester heading to the south and west, it runs through the town of Bon Air, along Huguenot Road and through Midlothian where it begins to connect to the larger part of the Norfolk Southern network.