In a recent article, Style Weekly asks, “Can a working class neighborhood live with and even benefit from a major university as a neighbor?“. The answer is complicated and neighborhood opinion is divided. The question has gotten new life thanks to a major residential/retail proposal on West Marshall Street. It’s easy to say Carver is threatened by encroachment from VCU and a large off campus student population puts pressure on homeowners, because it’s true, but Carver’s problems go well beyond that. Carver has problems typical of older declining inner city neighborhood, blight, crime, an aging population that have nothing to do with VCU. You could say VCU is the icing on the cake for a neighborhood that’s already seen it’s share of troubles.
So what is the way forward for Carver? Like a lot of neighborhoods it will have to accommodate large scale development near Broad. VCU and its partners will have to respect previously agreed on boundaries like Marshall Street. I believe Marshall and Broad can support the retail and residential developments that have been proposed. The one in question shows a lot of promise with parking, residential and retail all included. This is the kind of development that should be encouraged. North of Marshall should be reserved for low and medium density housing. Home ownership should be encouraged. VCU and its 30,000 students aren’t going away. VCU has an obligation to respect the neighborhoods it borders. By encouraging stable communities it will provide a safer and more enriching environment for its students.
Carver has made progress over the last decade. New families have moved in, homes have been rehabbed, restaurants and business have opened and new ones are on the way. Carver can have a promising future and VCU students will be a part of it It will never be the Carver of old, but should be able to take its place alongside other Richmond neighborhoods that cherishes its past.