What is the project?
The creation of Riverfront Park was one of the key components of the 2000 Downtown and Riverfront Master Plan. Improvements were also outlined in the 2006 Lynchburg Riverfront Implementation Plan and again in the 2040 Downtown Master Plan. This key outdoor civic site serves a multitude of recreational, cultural and environmental needs with the opportunity to position the City as an exciting destination of choice.
In 2022, City Council appropriated funding for major improvements to Riverfront Park to realize the vision set forth in the 2000 and 2040 Downtown and Riverfront master plans. Improvements will include an amphitheater, a playground, public restrooms, fencing, lighting and more.
When will construction begin? How long will it last?
The park will close to the public – and for special events – on May 15, 2023. The estimated completion of the project is late summer 2024.
How will construction affect the neighborhood?
We expect minimal disruption to traffic or parking during construction, as the facility is large enough to accommodate lay down and staging areas. There may be brief periods of disruption to traffic on Jefferson Street for large deliveries in and out of the construction site. Construction hours will typically be limited to 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday although weekend work may be considered if necessary for the work to move ahead as quickly as possible.
How is the project affected by its location in a flood zone?
There are several strategies to accommodate the site’s location in the 100-year flood zone and still allow use of the site. The restroom structure is being constructed as a flood resistant/proof structure; it cannot be elevated above the flood plain but it can be built to resist damage from flooding with critical infrastructure elevated above flood levels. The amphitheater is being built as an elevated structure but portions will still be below the 100-year flood elevation; similar to the restroom, it will be built to resist damage from flooding with critical portions of the utilities for the structure elevated from potential flood waters to resist damage.
What kinds of programming will the park accommodate?
With these improvements, the park will continue to welcome residents and visitors with open space, shade structures, plantings and a new playground. With the addition of restrooms and the amphitheater, the park will also be better positioned to host special events, festivals, movies and performances. The project does not change the capacity of the park for special events, which stands at 3,500 to 5,000. Additionally, the park and trail system will be open to the public from dawn to dusk daily when not hosting a special event.
Who will operate the venue?
The City of Lynchburg will seek proposals to partner with a venue operator. Currently, the park is programmed approximately 10 weekends a year, seasonally. We anticipate that with additional amenities and an operator, the park may be programmed up to 20 or more weekends a year, seasonally.
City Council appropriated funding for major improvements to Riverfront Park to realize the vision set forth in the 2000 and 2040 Downtown & Riverfront master plans. Improvements will include an amphitheater, playground, public restrooms, fencing, lighting, and more.
Construction will begin in early summer 2023. The public is invited to view plans for improvements at an open house where City staff and the design team (AECOM) will be available to answer questions regarding the project and timeline.
What is the Economic Impact of the Improvements?
In FY22, 10 permitted events that took place in Riverfront Park generated total business sales of $882,846. Total business sales means direct spending in restaurants, retail, transportation, lodging, etc. associated with event attendance. The Office of Economic Development & Tourism ran an economic impact analysis for a hypothetical three-day music festival with national touring acts in the park that estimated total business sales of $967,540. Running an economic impact analysis helps give an idea about how these Riverfront Park improvements will increase the scale for events, how they will draw visitors into the City, and impact business sales in the community.