You might not have noticed yet, because most of the work is still to come. But by summer, streetscape improvements should be quite noticeable, said Bob Broomfield, president of the Carytown Merchants Association. Broomfield is owner of the Play N Trade video game store.
In September, the city paved the entire stretch of Cary Street through the shopping district, as well as some of the connecting side streets, Broomfield said.
The next steps call for construction of brick crosswalks, extending curbings at selected corners along Cary , adding colored, rubberized matting at curbing cutouts to aid visually impaired pedestrians, and erecting a marble-and-metal Carytown entrance sign that will stand 20 feet high.
“I can’t say enough about how the city has stepped up,” Broomfield said. The city is funding the road work, and the Merchants Association is working out the funding for the sign, he added.
The brick crosswalks are intended to enhance the aesthetics of the area, he said. Brick crosswalks have been done in other areas of the city, such as along North Boulevard, just north of Broad Street .
The crosswalks, curb extensions and cutouts will initially be done at Carytown’s three busiest intersections: Dooley, Belmont and Sheppard streets, Broomfield said.
The curbing extensions, or “curbouts” as Broomfield calls them, will jut out about two feet into Cary Street at the corners of the selected intersections.
The curbouts are for safety, he said. They will allow a pedestrian to get far enough into the street where they can look around parked cars for oncoming traffic before they cross. They also will shorten the distance a person has in crossing the very busy Cary Street.
Another intention is to slow down traffic by making the car lane narrower where the curbouts are, he added.
Broomfield said he expects the crosswalk construction to begin in late spring, but a definite timetable hasn’t been set.
The curbing cutouts, which Broomfield called “step ups,” are designed to help the visually impaired in crossing the street. Broomfield said the “step ups” from the street to the sidewalk will have colored rubber matting to enhanced visibility.
Another thing the city is doing is replacing many of the traffic signs in the area, especially at locations such as Sheppard, where drivers have been known to turn in the wrong direction on the one-way Cary Street, Broomfield said.
Then there is the sign. The existing wooden Carytown sign near the Powhite Parkway is going to be replaced with a larger, more elaborate sign that will have a marble base, holding an Art Deco frame, where the Merchants Association will place posters promoting events.
“We wanted something that signified all that Carytown is about,” Broomfield said.
“We didn’t feel that the little wooden sign did that.”
He said the Merchants Association has been in talks with the city and ACORN (Association to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods) about the creation of the sign.
The Carytown Merchants have been working with the city’s Department of Economic Development on many of the enhancements. The city is funding the road improvements on its own, but through a special tax assessment district partnership Carytown has struck with the city, it will allow for many other improvements, Broomfield said.
Owners and retailers in Carytown will pay a few cents extra per hundred on property taxes, and that money will be returned for specific improvement needs that the city agrees to, Broomfield said.
It will cover things such as marketing and putting up festive district flags, he said.
The city’s Department of Economic Development did not return calls to comment on this story.
Broomfield said he is very pleased that the tax money could be used for marketing. He sees marketing as one of the biggest needs for Carytown.
He said the Merchants Association is working to develop partnerships with hotels and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, among other organizations, to steer more visitors to Carytown.