Richmond Planning Commission approves RYSE expansion project

Renderings of RYSE Commons Project credited to RYSE/Richmond Planning Commission

A major renovation and expansion of the RYSE youth center in Richmond received unanimous approval from the city’s Planning Commission last week.

The Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit and design review permit for the RYSE Commons project.

The project involves renovating RYSE’s existing 6,650 square-foot building and outdoor space at 205 41st Street (near the Macdonald 80 Shopping Center), and constructing a new two-story building and outdoor gardens in adjacent lots at 3939 and 3927 Bissell Ave.

The project will create an over 37,000 square foot campus, expanding youth program and partnership space by 225-percent, according to RYSE.

Since 2008, RYSE has been operating in a 6,650 square foot building constructed in 1975, according to city planning documents. Along with remodeling that building, the expansion project will create a new two-story building offering over 11,400 square feet of space, along with site and landscaping improvements.

Site improvements include two 160-square-foot art spaces in the form of modified shipping containers along Bissell Avenue, a new courtyard, basketball court, kitchen garden, contemplative garden and parking, according to city documents.

Marilyn Langlois, chair of the Richmond Planning Commission, praised the project, saying she looks forward to its progress.

In a letter to the city, Park Plaza Neighborhood President Madalyn Law pledged full support.

 “The RYSE Commons project will create the type of community hub that is a valued asset in any neighborhood,” Law’s letter stated. “The Park Plaza Neighborhood Council is very much in favor of the project. It will replace empty lots and an aging building with new modern facilities that are dedicated to building community and serving youth. The project will expand RYSE’s ability to work with youth, as well as their larger support networks of guardians, teachers, pastors, social workers, therapists, coaches and more. The expansion will also allow RYSE to better partner with other youth-serving organizations and government partners and provide a space for community gatherings.”

More information about the RYSE Commons project, along with info on how you can support the project through donations, can be accessed by clicking here.

The RYSE Center was created from organizing efforts of local youth wanting to create safe spaces for themselves and their peers. The nonprofit provides programs in media, arts, culture, youth organizing, education, justice and community health, according to city documents. In 10 years, it has served more than 3,500 youth members, of which nearly all are people of color and 12-percent identify as LGBTQ, the documents state.