Greater Richmond Region

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Counties of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area
Roads, rivers, and cities of the center of the metropolitan area

The Greater Richmond Region, also known as Richmond-Petersburg and the Richmond metropolitan area, is a region and metropolitan area in the U.S. state of Virginia, centered on Richmond. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) defines the area as the Richmond, VA Metropolitan Statistical Area, a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) used by the U.S. Census Bureau and other entities. The OMB defines the area as comprising thirteen counties, including the principal cities of Richmond, Petersburg, Hopewell, and Colonial Heights. As of 2010, it had a population of 1,258,251, making it the 43rd largest MSA in the country.

The Greater Richmond Region is located in the central part of Virginia. It straddles the fall line, where the coastal plain and the Piedmont come together on the James River at Richmond and the Appomattox River at Petersburg. The English established each as colonial ports in the 17th century.

Political subdivisions and communities[edit]

Independent cities[edit]

Since a state constitutional change in 1871, all cities in Virginia are independent cities and they are not legally located in any county. The OMB considers these independent cities to be county-equivalents for the purpose of defining MSAs in Virginia. Each MSA is listed by its counties, then cities, each in alphabetical order, and not by size.

The area is composed of four independent cities (listed in order of population):

The three smaller cities (Petersburg, Hopewell, and Colonial Heights) are located near each other in an area south of Richmond and are known collectively as the "tri-cities".

Counties[edit]

The following counties are included in the Richmond MSA:

Incorporated towns[edit]

Selected unincorporated towns and communities[edit]

The Richmond-Petersburg metropolitan area includes many unincorporated towns and communities.

Note: This is only a partial listing.

Population[edit]

Greater Richmond
Population by year[1]
1990 865,640
2000 1,100,121
2001 1,111,088
2002 1,124,822
2003 1,139,092
2004 1,154,589
2005 1,173,410
2006 1,194,008
2007 1,212,977
2008 1,225,626
2010 1,258,251

The Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) which includes 3 other cities (Petersburg, Hopewell and Colonial Heights), and adjacent counties is home to approximately 1.25 million Virginians[2]). The Richmond Region is growing at a fast rate, one of the fastest growing metro areas in the country, adding nearly 400,000 residents in the past decade or so. This has resulted in major suburban sprawl, particularly in Henrico and Chesterfield, both which have populations over 300,000. This also resulted in boosts in its economy, the building of malls, more national attention, and major sporting events and concerts coming to Richmond. Its arts and culture scene has also seen a major gain, with the building or renovations of many new arenas, including the Landmark Theater, Carpenter Center, CenterStage, and the creation of an art walk, the First Fridays Art Walk, occurring on the first Friday of every month on Broad Street in Downtown Richmond, drawing crowds of over 20,000 people. The population has seen its ups and downs, with the city of Richmond itself dropping a bit below 200,000, but coming back in 2008 to 204,000 people again.

The region is located approximately equidistant from Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, and Lynchburg. The area is home to the state's center of gravity of population—which, in 1980, was located thirty miles west of Richmond near the Powhatan-Goochland County border.

Transportation[edit]

Expressways and Interstate highways[edit]

Several of the most heavily traveled highways in the state transverse the area, which includes the junctions of Interstate 64 (which runs east-west), and Interstate Highways 85 and 95 (which run north-south). The area is also served by a comprehensive network of Interstate bypasses and spurs, and several non-interstate expressways. Several of these local roads are funded by tolls, although tolls have long been removed from the area's first limited access highway, the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike, which opened in 1958, and now forms a portion of I-95 and I-85. I-295 opened in 1992, was the last segment of Virginia's interstate system and forms an eastern bypass of Richmond and Petersburg.

Railway network[edit]

The Richmond-Petersburg region is also located along several major rail lines operated by CSX Transportation and the Norfolk Southern Railway.

The area has three passenger stations served by Amtrak.

  • Main Street Station (station code RVM), located in downtown Richmond
  • Staples Mill Road Station (station code RVR), located in Henrico County
  • Petersburg Station (station code PTB), located in Ettrick

The Department of Rail and Public Transportation of the State of Virginia has studies underway for extending high speed passenger rail service to the Virginia Peninsula and South Hampton Roads areas with a rail connection at Richmond to service along both the Northeast Corridor and the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor. [1].

Another project, known as Transdominion Express, would extend from Richmond west to Lynchburg and from Washington, DC (Alexandria) south via an existing Virginia Railway Express route to Manassas, extending on south to Charlottesville, Lynchburg, Roanoke and Bristol on the Tennessee border. [2]

Sea and airport facilities[edit]

An international deepwater terminal is located at the Port of Richmond [3] on the James River which is navigable for shipping to Hampton Roads, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Richmond International Airport is located in Henrico County, five miles east of the city center. The airport serves primarily domestic destinations in the Midwest, South, and Northeast as well as Eastern Canada.

Politics[edit]

Politics are a major topic for the Greater Richmond Region, considering main city Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Virginia State Capitol is located in the historic Capitol Square. Also, the new U.S. Courthouse was opened in 2010, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is located in Richmond, as well, along with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Richmond is a major political city in the USA, and a majority of Central Virginians work in the political field.

Although Richmond itself and Petersburg are strongly Democratic, the Richmond suburbs are very Republican. The suburbs began trending Republican at the national level as early as the 1950s; Henrico County, for instance, went Republican in every election from 1952 to 2004.[4] In 2008, Barack Obama became the first Democrat to carry the metropolitan area in decades.


Presidential election results
Year GOP DEM Others
2008 46.5% 291,304 52.8% 330,528 0.7% 4,369
2004 55.0% 287,810 44.4% 232,240 0.6% 3,239
2000 54.4% 239,734 43.1% 189,867 2.6% 11,269
1996 50.6% 200,687 42.4% 168,190 6.9% 27,387
1992 44.9% 184,241 40.0% 164,116 15.0% 61,538
1988 62.4% 224,861 36.7% 132,277 0.9% 3,406
1984 64.1% 231,956 35.4% 128,044 0.5% 1,792
1980 55.9% 178,936 39.5% 126,245 4.6% 14,797
1976 53.8% 155,979 44.1% 127,693 2.1% 6,044
1972 70.5% 176,154 27.8% 69,598 1.7% 4,185
1968 46.5% 109,988 30.8% 72,876 22.7% 53,648
1964 55.1% 103,295 44.9% 84,184 0.1% 144
1960 58.4% 75,523 40.9% 52,945 0.7% 905

Economy[edit]

The applicable Metropolitan Statistical Area for the Richmond-Petersburg region is the Richmond, VA MSA, which as of 2006 is identical to the region defined in this article. The Richmond MSA provides employment for a total of approximately 472,000 workers. In order of the number of workers, the major employment categories of the region are services; retail trade; manufacturing; state government; finance, insurance and real estate; local government; construction; wholesale trade; transportation and public utilities and federal government. Within the manufacturing category of some 63,700 employees, the largest category of workers is in the tobacco industry. Other important manufacturing categories are chemicals, printing and publishing, paper, and wood manufactures.

This economic diversity, which is typical of the entire Richmond-Petersburg region, helps to insulate it from hardship due to economic fluctuation in particular sectors of the economy. The region's central location also allows it to benefit from growth in other regions of Virginia and the state as a whole.

Retail and shopping[edit]

Shopping in the Richmond area has erupted from the Reconstruction era of the Civil War, all the way to the present, where several national brand stores currently have set up shops in suburban malls, along with quaint, small businesses in specified retail districts. It has frequently been pointed out by retail analysts and businesses that the Greater Richmond Region has the highest amount of retail square footage per person.

The early 1900s, and the boom in downtown[edit]

Department stores have had a huge history in Richmond. Two notable department retailers that were headquartered in Richmond were Thalhimers and Miller & Rhoads. They always had a friendly rivalry, but pulled together the Richmond community in downtown, and surged an interest in the area, drawing people from across the nation to downtown Richmond to shop at these two stores' flagships. Thalhimers had a six-story flagship that stood as the "gateway" to downtown shopping. Miller & Rhoads as and was famous for its "Santaland" Christmas exhibit during the holiday shopping season on its seventh floor. Both shared a 1,000 car parking garage, and added escalators and air conditioning, both which were modern conveniences at the time. Thalhimers also included the Richmond Room, a high class restaurant with some famous recipes that have been recovered recently. By the 1920s, Miller & Rhoads' massive flagship store had covered an entire city block. It was also around this time that the success of retail in downtown caused Sears, Woolworth, and other large national department stores to open up shop in downtown, too. By this time, the Richmond retail scene, particularly downtown, was unshakable.

The creation of suburban shopping[edit]

In the 1950s, people's desire to move to suburbs, fueled by the booming population, led to the creation of the strip mall, or shopping center. Richmond kept up with the times, and opened up The Shops at Willow Lawn, a massive shopping center that was located just outside of city limits into bordering Henrico County, Virginia. Also, the creation of the modern day indoor shopping mall led to the construction of several places such as Azalea Mall in Henrico, Cloverleaf Mall in neighboring Chesterfield County, Virginia, and Walnut Mall in nearby Petersburg, Virginia. All of these thrived for a short while, but eventually, as the population of the region rose, it was still too much retail for the region to support, and all of these (with the exception of Willow Lawn) eventually were closed down and razed. However, one mall that ended up surviving and still operates successfully as a mall today is Regency Square, a mall in Henrico County that stands at over 820,000 square feet. It has seen ups and downs and store closings, but is being invested in by the county as a revitalization area. Along with the new shopping centers arising, street shopping also saw a surge, and the result was Carytown and The Shops at Libbie & Grove, two shopping areas that were located on Cary Street and the intersections of Libbie Avenue and Grove Avenue, respectively. Both have local shops, something that modern day strip malls don't have. It was around this time that Richmond began promoting small businesses, something that has seen a resurgence today. Carytown is also home to the Byrd Theatre, a historic movie theater. There are over 200 shops in Carytown and nearly 80 in Libbie & Grove. As the late 1970s and 80s came, suburbia had gotten the best of the city, and as people fled the city of Richmond for newer homes in Henrico and Chesterfield, the downtown retail scene saw a dramatic fall, one that would devastate the retail market and ultimately lead to some serious setbacks.

The end of the 20th century, and end of an era[edit]

As the 1990s rolled around, all of the department stores that once had thrived inside of Richmond's once welcoming retail epicenter, had closed. Local stores Thalhimer's and Miller & Rhoads were both bought out by the May Department Stores Company in 1990 and 1992, respectively. Both had also closed their huge flagships, leaving a huge hole in the commercial market, with hundreds of thousands of square footage being left blank. Downtown, which was once considered the "Times Square of the South", was now bare and empty, with no stores or entertainment centers to draw people back. Everyone had moved to the suburbs. Buildings were decayed, razed and vandalized, and it was not until the late 2000s and 2010s that these downtown storefronts and buildings would be restored and renovated. It was also during this period in 1991 that Virginia Center Commons opened. This mall is located in the Brook Road retail corridor next to the 295/95 interchange. This was what ultimately resulted in the closing and demolition of Azalea Mall, which was located just nearby. At this point, a new era was dawning however, and several new retail districts in the region began popping up, including Short Pump, the Midlothian Turnpike corridor and Hull Street corridor. Chesterfield Towne Center had also opened up, leading to the decay of Cloverleaf Mall. And Southpark Mall, a new mall in nearby Colonial Heights, Virginia opened up as well which led to the closing of Walnut Mall. These three new malls, along with Regency Square stood nice and pretty in their areas, and in 2003, two mall developers had a law battle that resulted in a retail explosion that would benefit Richmond for years to come.

Retail in Richmond today[edit]

In 2000, ForestCity, a large mall developer sought out to build a huge, 1,000,000 square foot outdoor mall in Short Pump, a once small, farm stop whose namesake was taken from a watering station in which travelers among the roads could let their horses drink water and rest. The town is located in between Richmond and Charlottesville. It eventually went from a small rest stop area to a massive retail area, starting with the building of a Walmart Supercenter. The large mall proposal was pitched by ForestCity representatives as a beautiful outdoor center that would attract new national retailers to Richmond that weren't there before. ForestCity's project was collectively titled Short Pump Town Center. However, Taubman Centers, another mall developer who owned Regency Square, sought to build a quaint little outdoor mall off of the Chippenham Parkway in Richmond city limits. It too was pitched as a neat outdoor mall for high end retailers. It was located in the expensive, high-income neighborhood of Stony Point, giving the project the title of Stony Point Fashion Park. The obvious similarities between the two projects led to a serious legal battle that was eventually settled out of court. Both quickly started construction quickly, and told the media that the projects were expected to be completed in 2003. It did, and both malls were expected to hold grand opening ceremonies. It was to be held on September 18, 2003, but neither received any attention as the category 2 Hurricane Isabel was making landfall in nearby Outer Banks. This storm produced massive damage statewide, and flooded many areas in Richmond. After the hurricane, both malls were open, and received a grand response by the community.[citation needed] Sometime later, the metro area's population passed the million mark, ensuring that the Richmond region would be able to handle two new malls along with the other already open malls. However, it did sort of weaken sales at nearby Regency Square, the mall that was located just up the road from Stony Point, and south of Short Pump, and led to closures. Taubman, who feared foreclosure of the property, finally ave it back to its lender, Bank of America, in 2011. To this day, six malls stand in the metro area: Short Pump Town Center, Stony Point Fashion Park, Regency Square, Southpark Mall, Chesterfield Towne Center, and Virginia Center Commons. Also, the former Miller & Rhoads flagship store has been renovated and converted into small retail spaces on ground level, and a Hilton Garden Inn on the upper levels. The Thalhimers department store was razed and is now the site of a performing arts center.

Statistics[edit]

This is all the details about the six malls in the Greater Richmond Region.

# Mall name Location Retail space
Sq. feet/(m²)
Stores Anchor Stores/Entertainment Venues Year opened
1 Short Pump Town Center Short Pump, Virginia 1,400,000 square feet (130,000 m2) 140 Macy's, Nordstrom, Dillard's, Dick's Sporting Goods 2003
2 Chesterfield Towne Center Midlothian, Virginia 1,019,193 square feet (94,686.1 m2) 120 Macy's, Sears, JCPenney, Garden Ridge, TJ Maxx/HomeGoods, Barnes & Noble 1975
3 Regency Square Tuckahoe, Virginia 820,000 square feet (76,000 m2) 100+ Macy's North, Macy's South, Sears, JCPenney, XXI Forever 1975
4 Southpark Mall Colonial Heights, Virginia 800,000 square feet (74,000 m2) 100+ Sears, JCPenney, Macy's, Dick's Sporting Goods, Regal Cinemas 1989
5 Virginia Center Commons Glen Allen, Virginia 785,000 square feet (72,900 m2) 100 Macy's, Sears, JCPenney, Burlington Coat Factory 1991
6 Stony Point Fashion Park Richmond, Virginia 662,000 square feet (61,500 m2) 83 Saks Fifth Avenue, Dillard's, Dick's Sporting Goods, CineBistro 2003

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Annual Estimates of the Population of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas
  2. ^ Estimates of Population Change for Metropolitan Statistical Areas and Rankings: July 1, 2007 to July 1, 2008
  3. ^ Port of Richmond
  4. ^ Todd, Chuck and Gawiser, Sheldon. How Barack Obama Won. New York City: Vintage, 2009.