In July 2020, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) began working to provide comprehensive capacity building services through the federal Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) to six recipient organizations located in rural and/or economically challenged regions of Virginia.
The RCDI program seeks to increase a community’s readiness to undertake community and economic development projects through technical assistance from DHCD staff and consultants, while addressing organizational, economic and design improvements within each recipient community. Over the past several years, DHCD has engaged community stakeholders to form a collaborative and active network that supports the creation and sustainability of entrepreneurial ecosystems within each recipient community. Excitingly, the capacity building program also provides a funding opportunity to help recipients implement activities that align with the community’s strategic planning goals, which are developed and made clear through the RCDI program.
Uptown Partnership, the City of Martinsville’s local Main Street organization and one of six RCDI recipients, recently received an RCDI grant, totaling $30,000, from DHCD to fund the activation of the Wall Street alleyway in Uptown Martinsville. The organization will work alongside the municipality and other partners to install new pavers, outdoor furniture, planters, lighting, public art and other amenities that activate the social utility of the Wall Street alleyway and create a dynamic public space, as well as encourage additional repairs and renovations to neighboring properties and common areas.
The activation of the community’s Wall Street alleyway will serve as a catalyst for broader alleyway activation in Uptown Martinsville. The project is anticipated to greatly improve Uptown walkability, accessibility and connectively and enhance Uptown environmental sustainability and public safety. It will also provide an off-street space for outdoor dining, special events, cultural activates and pauses for respite for residents and visitors alike, while also creating new retail opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs and expanding local businesses.
“Uptown alleyways and passages are forgotten spaces, and they are not considered part of the main streetscape. They are hidden from view and don’t attract visitors other than service providers. However, Uptown Partnership recognizes the intrinsic potential for these alleys and passageways to become dynamic spaces that play a critical role in enhancing our street network and serve as unique destinations within the fabric of our business district.”
– Kathy Deacon, Executive Director, Uptown Partnership
Uptown Partnership secured Frazier Associates, a full-service architecture and planning firm, to create a series of drawings and site plans to help the local Main Street organization discover what’s possible! Check out what the Wall Street alleyway will, potentially, look like after improvements have been made to the space.
Leading up to the Wall Street alleyway activation project, Uptown Partnership has maintained an active role in the RCDI program, engaging the community and other partners to leverage results, while nurturing relationships with local organizations to meet objectives and goals. The local Main Street program has worked alongside DHCD to identify new development opportunities, assess the community’s strengths and challenges and determine how the locality, specifically organizations, can ensure the future growth and success of Uptown Martinsville.
We look forward to seeing the Wall Street alleyway’s exciting transformation over the coming weeks and months!