Historical Background & Critical Points Timeline
Richmond: Positively Stellar!
Richmond experienced steady population growth until its peak in 1960 with 44,149 residents. Recent demographic data indicate a decrease in the city’s population from 1980 13.3%. This decline is a comparable to overall county demographic trends, which show population dropped by 11.9%. Conversely, Indiana’s population estimates indicate an increase of 20.6%.
Historically, Richmond has remained a predominantly White community (90.1% in 1980 and 84.7% in 2012). The 2014 American Community Survey data showed of Richmond’s total population, 7.3% are African-American while the remaining 8% are classified as Other Races. Additionally, Richmond experienced an 75.5% increase in the percentage of its population 25 years and older with a college degree.
In 1980 approximately 13.6% of persons were living below the poverty line. The percentage of persons living below the poverty rate increased over the past 30 years to 27.9% by 2014 estimates. This change is an increase of approximately 105.1%. In comparison to recent (2014) Wayne County and state estimates, Richmond has a slightly higher percentage of its persons living below the poverty line (21.1% and 15.5% respectively). However, recent estimates indicate the percent of people living below poverty increased in the city, county, and state since 1980.
Richmond’s median household income decreased to some extent throughout the past thirty years by 23.4%. This is comparable to the county which experienced a decline of 13.1%. The median household income for Richmond in 2014 was estimated at $29,802. This is lower than that of the Wayne County ($37,931) and the state ($48,737).
Richmond: Socioeconomic Characteristics of Decline
Source: 1970 Census of Population, PC(1)-C1 "General Social and Economic Characteristics", Table 182. 1980 Census of Population, PC80-1-C1 "General Social and Economic Characteristics", table 245.U.S. Census Bureau, Census 1980 Summary Files 1 and 3. U.S. Census Bureau, 2008-2012 American Community Survey Table S1701. U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts, 2014. Data derived from Population Estimates, American Community Survey, Census of Population and Housing, State and County Housing Unit Estimates, County Business Patterns, Nonemployer Statistics, Economic Census, Survey of Business Owners, Building Permits. STATS Indiana, using data from Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau. Minnesota Population Center. National Historical Geographic Information System: Version 2.0. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota 2011.
a. Poverty figures for 2014 were the most recent data estimations from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 2010-2014 Table S1701 estimations provided for the specific geographic area.
b. The Median Household dollar amounts reported for 1980 are values that have been converted to constant 2014 dollars according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator, available atwww.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm.
c. Educational attainment figures for 2014 were the most recent data estimations from US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 2010-2014 Table S1501 estimations provided for the specific geographic area.
Housing and Quality of Life
Three issues of major concern to Richmond officials: 1) Housing maintenance, 2) housing opportunity for aging populations, and 3) quality of place. The majority of the city’s 17,577 housing units (72.4%) were built prior to 1970 and approximately 30.9% were constructed before 1939. As a result an older housing stock, Richmond must address issues of housing maintenance and repair, as well as the necessity to adapt structures to the needs of modern life. Since the homes are mature they require maintenance costs that are not always feasible for homeowners with limited income streams. Richmond officials were also concerned with the city’s historic housing stock, particularly in its Vaile neighborhood. In addition, rehabbing and maintaining properties deemed as certified historic structures are expensive and labor intensive. Affordable housing developers that undertake historic rehabilitation or build in historic districts are subject to standards set by the Secretary of the Interior, along with state and local laws. For instance, many historic houses require lead paint remediation and new plumbing and electrical wiring.
Community leaders were also worried about current and future housing opportunities for its senior populations and quality of life. According to the most recent US Census, estimates 16.6% of the population is over the age of 65. Most senior households reside in single-family homes, and housing maintenance may become a challenge. Additionally older residents may face physical design barriers of traditional housing models that may make mobility challenging.
Based on age and condition of its housing stock, Richmond officials sought assistance in 1) maintaining the character and investment of their Vaile and 10th street neighborhoods, 2) allowing its residents to age in place, and 3) enhance the quality of life for all residents. In 2006, the Comprehensive Plan for Richmond was completed. Since then, the city’s Comprehensive Plan has been updated three times: 2009, 2011 and 2013. Numerous goals from the Comprehensive Plan have been completed including, but not limited to, the completion of a downtown master plan, creation of new zoning and subdivision ordinances, new transportation plan, new park master plan and a neighborhood development plan for North Richmond.
Community Economic Development
The city also suffered from the decline in its downtown business district over the past three decades. This decrease created challenges of business retention and attraction. Prior to the 1960s, the downtown area was the center of commerce. With the advancement of retail shopping centers and big-box retail, the downtown area began to decline slowly. In 1968, a devastating explosion and fire ripped through the downtown causing an estimated $15 million in damage to the Main Street area. Fourteen square blocks of the downtown were severely damaged including one block that was destroyed. In the aftermath of the explosion, downtown Richmond’s image suffered a devastating blow as disenchanted retailers, began to relocate to newly developed malls on the city’s east side. Concerned citizens soon realized that contingency plans had to be implemented to restore and revitalize this devastated area. Community leaders and the City Redevelopment Commission explored the concept of putting a pedestrian shopping mall downtown, which would result in closing a section of Main Street to through traffic. To jumpstart redevelopment, the project known as The Promenade was built and dedicated in 1972.
After five years, the Promenade quickly fell into disrepair due to city budget constraints and urban flight. During the 1970s, several significant new structures were built in Richmond. In spite of efforts by the City Redevelopment Commission the downtown continued to decline both economically and physically until a broad-based group of concerned citizens formed Main Street Richmond Wayne County in 1987. Main Street Richmond Wayne-County implemented a revitalization plan based on the National Main Street Four-Point Program. Several economic revitalization issues regarding the downtown continued to plague reinvestment. The lack of reinvestment resulted in the decision by the city to commission a downtown redevelopment strategic plan in 1995. As a direct of result of this; in 1997, Main Street was reopened through the downtown area for easier access to the businesses.
More recently, city and county officials, worried about the economic future of the region, felt it critical to take action to implement a cohesive strategy. Local retail market conditions, in conjunction with a lack of an aggressive redevelopment of downtown and inappropriate land uses [Rumpke, Wayne County Jail and outdoor advertising] contributed to the constant challenges for successful downtown retail. These conditions have negatively affected the economic viability of retail and entertainment destinations in the downtown. With leadership from regional stakeholders such as the Economic Development Council of Wayne County, city and county leaders began working to provide ways in which 1) Increase the number of individuals living downtown and create a critical mass of people to support downtown businesses, maintain the downtown and increase property values/tax base; 2) Provide quality of life amenities for businesses, residents and visitors that will include safe pedestrian and bicycle facilities to encourage wellness, fitness, and commerce in and between the districts in the center city; and 3) Provide quality of life amenities that support downtown living, business investment, and tourism in parks and improved infrastructure.
With these goals in mind, Richmond civic leaders and stakeholders continue to undertake city reinvestment efforts. The city completed a Comprehensive Plan (2009). In 2012, Richmond was selected as an Indiana Stellar Community Pilot Program finalist and completed a Strategic Investment Plan (SIP). The City of Richmond initiated a Downtown Development Plan in 2012 to prioritize activities to create a vibrant Main Street that attracts business, residents, and visitors. In 2013, Richmond was named a Stellar finalist and updates their SIP. That same year the city receives Stellar Designation and begins the planning and implementation of strategic investment plan strategies.