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Group Hopes to Kick-start Riverfront Development

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The River District group formed three months ago to streamline what they saw as sporadic and individual efforts aimed at sparking interest in activities, events and development around the riverfront.

"The city's not doing it, [groups like] Farmer's Market and Downtown Presents don't have the staff," says Graham McInnes, general manager of La Difference and coordinator for the River District.

And the Riverfront Development Corp., which has been charged with the development project, hasn't shown much marketing muscle or savvy, McInnes says.

The intention of the River District, he says, is to "get everybody at the same table."

That means putting personal agendas aside, McInnes says. "If we can keep everybody's ego and territorialism in check then we can create a real organization that helps not only with development but also with interest in the area," he says.

It is something that arguably has been difficult for groups like Richmond Riverfront Development Corp. to muster, says McInnes. "They've been charged with developing that land," he says of the area designated by city for riverfront development, "but they're very conservative."

It's why he says fearless marketing of the riverfront is important.

The name of the group is derived from an organization by that name in Rockford, Ill., a city recognized for turning its troubled riverfront into a flourishing commercial and residential hub.

The River District plans to do the same here. Says McInnes: "The big question that we haven't answered for ourselves is: What niche can we fill and what tools can we use in our arsenal?"

— Brandon Walters

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