The Most Progressive City
Richmond has been dubbed the most progressive city in America by the notorious U.S. Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders. This is due, in no small measure, to the Richmond Progressive Alliance, a coalition of liberal Democrats, Independents and Green Party members which began to assert itself electorally in the early part of the century in response to the crises that beleaguer most urban environments today.
Model for Urban Policing
With crime on the upswing, Richmond went looking for a new police chief in 2006. An openly gay, white police chief from Fargo, North Dakota–with a population that is 94 percent white and a “gang” problem that more typically refers to raucous raccoons rather than rowdy youths–might seem an odd choice, but it reflects a political culture in the city of Richmond that can be boiled down to three words: whatever it takes.
What Richmond City Hall saw in Chris Magnus was someone with a profound understanding of how to improve the relationship between the community and the police. Magnus paid immediate dividends, working with churches, youth groups, neighborhood councils, and activists to reduce violent crime while at the same time lowering the number of fatal police shootings. Magnus strengthened civilian oversight of the police and while no one can say for sure, he is believed to be the only police chief in America who participated in a Black Lives Matter protest. When he moved on a decade later, he left behind a model for urban policing that other agencies hope to replicate, not just in California, but also across the nation.
Old defunct buildings started spurring new opportunities when WWII ended. And today Richmond is still revitalizing parcels of land and buildings. What once was new, is always on the cusp of being recreated to reflect the culture of the times.
The Historic Pt. Richmond neighborhood has been preserved as a turn of the century (20th century) quaint shopping and dining area. It’s a mix of the old and the new with unique retail boutiques and antique stores interspersed with restaurants, offices, coffee houses, a 1911 hotel, plunge and a theater.
Richmond Hilltop Plaza, once the hot spot for retail in the East Bay, lost its shine. But today, it is being reborn by LBG Real Estate Companies LLC as Hilltop Shops. It is undergoing extensive modernization and has space available for new tenants in what will be a stunning landscaped center for shopping, dining and entertainment.
Ford Assembly Plant
The historic Ford Assembly Plant created the FORD Model A car here, the first of which is now housed in the Richmond Museum of History. The Plant then went onto produce Jeeps during WWII. Eventually, developer Orton Development, designer Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects and the City of Richmond transformed the Ford Assembly Plant on Harbour Way So into a platform for Richmond’s new evolving economy. Now a mixed-use parcel, it houses Craneway Pavilion, a flexible event venue with up to 45,000 sq ft and an adjoining 20,000 square-foot open-air patio on 25 waterfront acres, Assemble Restaurant, Rosie the Riveter Museum, light industry, manufacturing and retail.
Shipyard #3 Rigging Building
This historic building, located at 1325 Canal Blvd across from the SS Red Oak Victory, once played a vital role in building the Liberty and Victory ships of World War II. After undergoing some forward-thinking changes, now houses Riggers Loft Wine Co. Riggers includes four wineries, one cidery, a wine bar and tasting room with beautiful views of San Francisco and the Bay. Paul’s Street Eats delivers a diverse and changing American cuisine and live music enhances Friday evenings.
JOINN Innovation Park
What was once the home of Berlex Biosciences and then a vacated 53-acre site full of run-down buildings, broken fountains and dying landscaping. It is now a Biotechnology Acceleration Campus. JOINN Innovation Park transformed the site and offers full service laboratories and offices for companies ranging from early-stage discovery groups through contract research organizations, as well as comprehensive pre-clinic research services. The facilities are pleasantly restored with 24/7 surveillance and surrounded by lush greenery. Over 30 companies call Joinn home.
Richmond Main Street Initiative
Revitalizing Downtown Richmond is the goal. Richmond Main Street Initiative (RMSI) is a community based organization and certified Main Street program dedicated to revitalizing historic Downtown Richmond as a pedestrian-friendly urban village, offering products, services, arts, and entertainment that reflect the community’s rich and diverse heritage.
RMSI envisions Historic Downtown Richmond as a safe, vibrant, thriving destination for arts, entertainment, businesses, and residents with an easily accessible transit center. They are implementing safety programs, physical improvements like streetscape upgrades and producing events to make Downtown Richmond a regional and cultural arts center.
Richmond Housing Renovation Program
In 2015 The City of Richmond issued Social Impact Bonds to rehabilitate and repair abandoned and distressed residential properties in the city and make them available as affordable homes. The Richmond Community Foundation manages the program from acquisition to the sale of the properties. Families participating in SparkPoint Contra Costa, a local financial services program, are first in line to purchase the restored homes through the City’s First Time Home Buyers program.
Richmond’s Code Enforcement Department manages over 200 blighted properties, keeping them boarded up, weeds clipped and removing trash. Transforming these houses will save them money, improve the neighborhoods and create affordable housing.
RCF conducts other programs that support their mission to bring together a vibrant, sustainable and healthy community. They focus on Economic Development, Health, The Physical Environment, Education and Public Safety.