Riverfront Park Project
Updated September 23, 2021 - Riverfront Park Set for Partial Opening on October 9th
Riverfront Park, located along Sophia Street in Historic Downtown Fredericksburg, is preparing for a partial opening to the public on Saturday, October 9 -- the same day a ceremony will be held to mark the completion of the nearby Chatham Bridge.
This nearly 4-acre public space will feature Rappahannock River views with open space, event space, an interactive water feature, a meadow area, and a children’s play area. Limited river access will also be a feature, complemented by upgraded dock infrastructure. (Motorized boat launch and fishing opportunities remain available at City Dock.)
Originally anticipated to open in the spring of this year – construction was delayed due to supply chain issues and playground equipment safety inspections. Some fencing will remain around the riverfront meadow and the open event space so that the vegetation can properly establish. (More than 100 trees are being planted now, and the event space is being over seeded.)
Solar-powered lighting has been installed and smart-technology infrastructure will provide free public Wi-Fi and security cameras once the park opens. Abundant parking is available across the street in the Sophia Street Parking Garage, with free parking available for the first 4 hours (and then $1 each additional hour).
Riverfront Park is prepared for future improvements as well. The park is fully plumbed and pad ready for future restrooms, pending the new FEMA map updates expected next year. The stage area is prepped with all electrical work, and City staff is already working to attract private donations for a potential stage. The park will also be a central hub for pedestrian activity as Fredericksburg continues to pursue trail development, with efforts that will eventually link Motts Run Reservoir to Dixon Park. The park’s signage will also work to interpret and share the City’s rich history with new audiences who visit.
The City investment in this park is a fraction of the $40+ million in public investments (more than half is the Commonwealth’s Chatham bridge project) in the past decade or so in Downtown with trails, colonial lights, brick pavers, Small Area Plans, the public parking garage, etc. These investments are meant, in part, to create sustainability for our business community as they increasingly upgrade properties and create jobs in our Downtown Fredericksburg.
These investments (public and private) are creating the next level of positive evolution in the region's only authentic and historic downtown - with long established heritage assets, a thriving foodie scene, an enviable arts scene, and now a more robust entertainment and gathering space. With these projects, the City is reconnecting and better activating our riverfront while supporting the revitalization of the Sophia Street corridor. With the addition of the Bankside Trail project, the City is pushing better connectivity to Stafford County trails and the East Coast Greenway. This connectivity strategy brings more focus and future opportunity to the Old Stone Warehouse and other important properties. With continued vegetation management, increased vistas, and many of the other opportunities identified by the City sponsored Streetsense study, the City is poised to bring significant energy to long envisioned Face the River initiatives. In the heart of the city, this new park is where it all comes together.
Updated July 26, 2021 - Regarding the Free Lance-Star's recent editorial, please see below for more clarity:
- Restrooms cannot be built until new FEMA maps are adopted (expected next year). For now a public restroom is 440 feet away at the Visitor Center. (This facility was built by the City at a cost of $358,000.) The Riverfront Park project is 100% plumbed, and is pad ready for a bathroom in a future year. This project is not “shelved indefinitely.”
- Stage area has all electrical work plumbed, and is pad ready. The mentioned concrete slab is a piece of the stage infrastructure, intentionally placed in front of the future stage to manage future performances. We are working to attract private donations to this cause.
- A portion of the “mound” was preserved, at an added cost to redesign and create access. Councilman Kelly demanded this preservation, and staff was happy to make it work. See four steps now in place at the site. A new sign will be placed next year at this location to talk about archeology (including the human remains found), and the previous building at this location.
- River access is indeed improved as planned. But the main river access and boat launch remains at City Dock - 1,500 feet away.
- Yes, the park will flood.
This City investment at this park is a fraction of the nearly $40 million in public investments (more than half is the Commonwealth’s Chatham bridge project) in the past decade or so in Downtown (with trails, colonial lights, brick pavers, this park, small area and preservations plans, parking, etc). These investments are meant, in part, to create sustainability for our business community as they increasingly upgrade properties and create jobs in our Downtown Fredericksburg.
These investments (public and private) are creating the next level of positive evolution in the region's only authentic and historic downtown - with long established heritage assets, a thriving foodie scene, an enviable arts scene, and now a more robust entertainment and gathering space. Downtown is thriving, and the future is bright.
Fredericksburg’s newest park expected to open late summer
Riverfront Park construction update
(Fredericksburg, VA) July 7, 2021 - After more than a decade of planning, land acquisition and design work, the City of Fredericksburg’s newest park is nearing completion. A phased opening is expected to begin late this summer.
Riverfront Park, located along Sophia Street in Historic Downtown, will be a significant, nearly 4-acre, public space. When complete, it will feature Rappahannock River views with open space, event space, an interactive water feature, a meadow area, and a children’s play area. Direct river access will also be a feature, complemented by upgraded dock infrastructure.
Solar-powered lights and smart-technology infrastructure will bring contemporary design and upgraded technology to the downtown area, while the park’s design and materials will celebrate Fredericksburg’s history as a riverside city. Riverfront Park will be Fredericksburg’s first “Smart Park.” The first phase will provide public Wi-Fi and security cameras. The infrastructure is also designed for future additions such as digital information kiosks, an eventual public-performance stage and restrooms, environmental sensors for air quality and river flooding, and more. Visitors to the park will be able to enjoy shaded seating areas, climb on sustainably forested local logs and play among a river-themed rock bed. Children will also find water jets that spring from the ground on demand to cool them during the summer.
The park is a collaborative work to live a vision outlined as many as three decades ago. City Council appointed the Riverfront Task Force, which labored through much of the past decade to bring ideas, concepts and budget estimates to the community. The Mayor and City Council identified the Riverfront Park as Priority #7 in their 2036 Vision work (accomplished in 2016) and directed staff to build the park in 2017. Design and engineering work concluded in 2018, and the project was put to bid for construction in 2019.
As stated in City Council’s priorities, carefully planned capital projects should include investments to our infrastructure that improve on our public services. As such, Riverfront Park was prepared to not only provide the traditional outdoor benefits of a publicly accessible space for all to enjoy, but also to provide technological advancements for all who use and service the park area. The park will also be a central hub for pedestrian/bicycle activity as Fredericksburg continues to pursue trail development, with efforts that will eventually link Motts Run Reservoir to Dixon Park. The park’s signage will also work to interpret and share the City’s rich history with new audiences who visit.
Riverfront Park’s play area and walkways are scheduled to open later this summer. The performance lawn and meadow area will remain closed to help ensure the grass and meadow mix grows for several more months. Additional information will be released closer to the opening date.
For more information on the Riverfront Park project, please visit Fredericksburgva.gov or call 540-372-1010.
Riverfront Park to be Fredericksburg’s first “Smart Park”
(Fredericksburg, VA) November 20, 2020 – The City of Fredericksburg is proud to announce a partnership with the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) for a “smart” Riverfront Park. This new park located along Sophia Street in Historic Downtown will be a significant new public space in the downtown area. It is currently under construction and, when complete, will feature Rappahannock River views with open space, event space, and a play area.
“In 2018, City Council directed staff in their Priority #8 to build Riverfront Park after more than a decade of work. To deliver other Council Priorities at the same time, we have been very focused on embedding “Smart Communities” thinking within our design and construction – with success,” stated City Manager Tim Baroody. (See Council’s most recent update on Priorities.)
Thanks to the City’s new partnership and a $75,000 grant from CIT, more expansive plans for Riverfront Park are coming together. The City has been working to position itself for Smart Community efforts and recognizes that broadband infrastructure is the key to many smart community projects. CIT is leading the statewide strategic initiative to pilot “smart” technologies throughout the Commonwealth under the newly established Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority (VIPA). For the City, CIT has helped from the beginning to design and implement the infrastructure to help make this project come to life with smart technology implemented in phases. The first phase provides public Wi-Fi in the park and park security cameras as well. The infrastructure, designed for growth, could later include a digital information kiosk, a public performance stage, environmental sensors for air quality and river flooding, and possibly sensors for parking availability or crowd counts. Read the full news release.
Riverfront Park is Under Construction
The construction of the Riverfront Park began in late February, 2020. City Council awarded a contract for construction of the park to Athena Construction of Triangle, Virginia. The start of construction requires the entire park property to be fenced, thus closing the public parking lot in the 700 block of Sophia Street as well as the parking area accessed across Sophia Street from Charlotte Street. Read the news release: Construction of Riverfront Park to Begin; Sophia Street Parking Areas to Close February 23
The City of Fredericksburg has initiated efforts to design and construct the new Riverfront Park, which will be a significant new public space in downtown Fredericksburg. In 2011, the City acquired the former Masonic Lodge riverfront property at 609 Sophia Street. This acquisition increased the amount of contiguous City-owned land along the riverfront.
The planned park will have many attractive features, including children’s play areas, an interactive water feature, and a stage and events lawn for concerts and other events. It will also be a place to sit and enjoy the beautiful outdoor amenities and view of the Rappahannock River.
The City established a Riverfront Task Force to guide the design process from an initial park vision to preliminary design options to final concept design.
For a detailed history of the project see this page PROJECT DOCUMENTS
City of Fredericksburg Project Leaders
Assistant City Manager
Director, Parks, Recreation & Events
Riverfront Task Force
George Solley - Chair
Kerry Devine - Council Representative
Matt Kelly - Council Representative
Lead Consultant / Landscape Architect
Rhodeside & Harwell