Capital Trees’ most recent efforts have been focused on creating a linear park along a critically important but neglected stretch of the Kanawha Canal and Virginia Capital Trail. Now dubbed the “Low Line”, with a nod to New York City’s High Line, the site connects a recently enhanced Great Shiplock Park (GSP) with Richmond’s much-loved Canal Walk.
The site, which is owned and maintained by the City of Richmond and CSX Corporation whose raised railroad trestle carries freight and passenger trains into and out of Richmond’s urban core, is bound by Great Shiplock Park to the east, Dock Street to the north, the Canal Walk to the west and the Kanawha Canal to the south. These five acres represent a perfect case study of neglected potential. Despite historic, industrial, and recreational significance, the area is overgrown with invasive weeds, poorly lit, inadequately protected from vehicular traffic, and lacking in educational or interpretive signage. Overgrown alien plant species and trash have choked off the view to such an extent that the waterfront is indistinguishable.
Building on recent success working with Virginia Capital Trail Foundation (VCTF) to enhance Great Shiplock Park, Capital Trees is developing plans to transform the Low Line into a linear park to be enjoyed by cyclists and pedestrians along the Virginia Capital Trail, canal boat tourists, area workers, and the residents of Tobacco Row, Church Hill and Fulton Hill neighborhoods. Located downhill of the Church Hill neighborhood, properly designed and planted, the Low Line can serve as a five-acre riparian buffer for the James River watershed.
Capital Trees is currently working with the City of Richmond, CSX Corporation, VCTF, the James River Association, Shockoe Bottom businesses, Forest City Enterprises (owner/operator of the River Lofts at Tobacco Row) and landscape architects at Waterstreet Studio to develop programming and maintenance regimes for the improved site. Plans call for removal of invasive species, planting drifts of low growing native grasses, perennials and ornamental plantings, improved lighting and tree canopy along the Virginia Capital Trail, site furnishings, canal overlooks and boardwalk, gathering areas and a dynamic green space to be located under the I-95 overpass at the Virginia Capital Trail’s western terminus. Educational signage and interpretive public art is to be displayed throughout the site, detailing its significance in the slave trade, the industrial development of Richmond, area trade and transportation, as well as its environmental attributes and functionality.
Phase I site clearing was completed in late summer 2014. Site preparation and planting is planned for fall of 2014.