The Henrico County Board of Supervisors has recognized the need to devote more resources to Highland Springs and the Laburnum Gateway, (the area around the Richmond International Raceway) to enhance the residential and commercial areas of these communities. The Department of Community Revitalization, in partnership with the Department of Building Construction and Inspections, has developed the Highland Springs and Laburnum Gateway Area Revitalization Initiative.
The Initiative has a number of components aimed at enhancing the appearance of the communities, encouraging investment and improving the quality of life for the citizens. One component is enhanced Code Enforcement to address building, zoning and environmental violations in the areas.
There will be a particular focus on vacant dilapidated houses in these communities. Additional funds have been allocated for acquisition of these homes for rehabilitation and resale to first-time homebuyers or, if conditions warrant, demolition and replacement with new housing. Where acquisition is not possible, the goal will be to have the vacant house code compliant.
Another component of the Initiative, that is unique to Highland Springs because of its history, is a study of the area to see if it would qualify for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The Department of Community Revitalization received a grant from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to provide half the funding to conduct an architectural survey of a portion of Highland Springs. The survey will be used to determine the eligibility of the area for potential listing and to determine potential boundaries for a district. Listing is honorary and does not place any restrictions on private property owners. Owners may do whatever they wish with their properties. If an owner wishes to take advantage of the tax benefits of historic tax credits, the rehabilitation of the property must follow Secretary of Interior Standards. If not using the tax benefits there are no restrictions.
A community meeting to discuss the Highland Springs revitalization initiative, and the architectural survey work for a National Register listing, was held on November 23, 2015 at the Henrico Theatre. The presentation from that meeting can be viewed here. The survey work for the entire neighborhood included in the listing was completed in late 2017, and was followed by a nomination and approval for listing in the National Register of Historic Places in May 2018. More information on the National Register District can be found at historichighlandsprings.com
A community meeting to discuss the revitalization initiative in the Laburnum Gateway area was held on March 16, 2016, The presentation from that meeting can be viewed here.
In addition to these enhanced efforts, existing revitalization programs will also be used. Efforts are underway to meet with business owners and commercial property owners to encourage reinvestment in their properties. Both the Nine Mile Road and Laburnum Avenue commercial corridors in these communities are designated as an Enterprise Zone. The Enterprise Zone program offers state and local grants and incentives to encourage investment and job creation. The Housing Repair and Rehabilitation Programs for homeowners as well as our Volunteer Assistance Program, including Operation Paintbrush will be active in these areas.
The residents and property owners in these communities will play the most important role in the revitalization efforts as it is their homes, businesses and community we will all be working to enhance.