On June 13th and 14th, Richmond, Virginia held its first Better Block project sponsored by Sportsbackers, Bon Secours, the National Association of Realtors, Capital One, and Davita. The block of 25th Street and Venable was temporarily transformed into a neighborhood destination, complete with pop-up businesses, a cycle-track, parklets, pallet benches, and plaza with the help of community volunteers and residents.



Capital One offered a series of Microgrants to local businesses who used those funds to install new windows, re-paint buildings, and build 15 picnic benches that were installed in a pop-up garden and cafe on the block. The Better Block project galvanized the community around the idea of making a better place immediately and helped communicate principals in walkability, livability, and placemaking in a hands-on approach that has moved the neighborhood beyond the traditional planning process and into implementation.

The video above and report below provides greater details about the project and we would like to thank all the volunteers and sponsors for making in this a great project!

Download (PDF, 8.58MB)


Richmond’s first Better Block project is being planned now in North Church Hill on historic 25th street! The Better Block is an international movement that started as a community effort to help transform neighborhood blocks into vibrant, and healthy community destinations with amenities for children, seniors, residents, and visitors alike.


The initiative is temporary, built by the community, and demonstrates ways to create a safer and more inviting environment for people to work, play, and thrive in. We need your help building a Better Block. Sign up for one or more of the volunteer courses below:

ImageTitle / DescriptionDate / TimeEnroll
How to build Parklets - The parklet movement started in San Francisco, and helped transform parts of streets to outdoor cafe seating. We'll introduce the concept and work with reclaimed material to build these for a Better Block project June 12, 6:30PM - 8:30PM
How to build pallet furniture - Sign up to transform pallet wood into public benches, tables, and planters. The furniture will be displayed the following day and can be picked up after the event. June 12, 6:30PM - 8:30PM
How to make a street more bike/ped friendly - Two day course with classroom fundamentals describing a roadway segment and alternatives and materials that can make it more pedestrian friendly. On Day 1, and on Day 2, we'll implement those ideas using temporary materialsJune 12 (class), 9PM - 9:45PM
June 13 (build), 5PM - 7PM
How to create a pop-up shop - The movement to transform vacant building spaces into cafes, retail shops, and service centers is helping kick new businesses off and create a more vibrant streetscape. We'll outline best practices for getting your own shop off the ground.June 11, 7:45PM - 9:15PM
How to create wayfinding signage - One of the simplest ways to educate a community about walking and bicycling is creating simple signs that communicate distances to local amenities. We'll walk through that process in this course. The class will focus on areas to measure, and end by creating signs in an existing area that will be displayed during the Better Block. June 11, 7:45PM - 9:15PM
How to gather metrics on a Better Block - In this 2 day course, we'll start by identifying areas that should be measured to push for permanent changes in an area. We'll also gather baseline measurements to compare with for the day of the Better Block. On Day 2, the team will head out and measure change metrics from the Better Block itself. June 11 (class), 6:30PM - 7:30PM
June 14 (street), 12PM - 1PM
Graduation! At the end of the Better Block, we'll hold our wrap-up party, group photo, and hand out certificates for everyone who signed up!June 14, 4PM - 6PM

Along with Richmond’s first Better Block project, we’re excited to announce Richmond’s first Better Block 5k! This 3.1 mile run will feature views of historic Church Hill North and will offer a unique perspective on the Better Block site. The goal of this event is to build on the Better Block message, an initiative to promote healthy, active lifestyles in the featured areas. All participants will receive an event t-shirt and post-race food. Come enjoy a uniquely RVA day with us and register now!

The 5K course map can be found here: Better Block 5k Map



CommunityWalk1The Church Hill North Better Block has officially kicked off with a successful community walk that took place at the project site (25th Street and Venable Street) on March 11th. A group of nearly 100 residents, stakeholders, and activists showed up to begin laying out the groundwork for the area’s first Better Block.


While walking through the site, property owners who held vacant structures offered access to their buildings for use by pop-up shops during the project. A handful of great, historic structures (above) have the potential to be quickly converted to cafes, markets, or art galleries. If you’re interested in developing a shop for the project, be sure to fill out the following application form. The cut-off date for applications will be April 29th. A tour for pop-up shop participants will take place on April 15th at 6pm on the corner of 25th and Venable Street.


After the community walk, participants learned more about the history of the Better Block project as well as hearing examples from recent projects. The following schedule has been laid out for the complete project:

April 21: 6pm – 7pm 1105 N. 25th Street – Tour of vacant properties with potential pop up shops
April 29: Application for pop up due
June 11 and 12: pre build workshop*
June 13 and 14: Better Block

For additional questions regarding the project, please contact Max Hepp-Buchanan, Director of Bike Walk RVA at max@sportsbackers.org.

* the Pre-Build workshop will take place on site of the Better Block and allows a chance for participants to gather their materials, gain access to vacant properties, and help assemble things needed for the completed project. More details to come!

To get things kicked off, there will be a Community Walk + Talk (FB invite here) that will take place on March 12th. We’ll be meeting at the corner of 25th Street and Venable. Head out to learn more about the project. If you’re interested in volunteering for the upcoming Better Block project, fill out the volunteer form here.

For additional questions, contact project coordinator, Max Hepp-Buchanan, Director of Bike Walk RVA at (804) 285-9495 x251, or email at max@sportsbackers.org